April 5, 2023 Captello

How to Create a NFC Scavenger Hunt at your Next Event


Organizers managing conference events, trade shows, association events, VIP experiences and more are continually seeking ways to drive engagement at their events. Scavenger hunts are a perfect way to not only drive engagement, but deliver ancillary benefits along with it. Other benefits include the opportunity to influence human behavior, introduce competition, induce excitement, create revenue streams, and appear leading edge in the ever-evolving events industry. 

Traditional QR Code Powered Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts, also known as treasure hunts, have traditionally been run with branded QR codes printed on marketing signage. QR codes are easy to create, printable, and scannable by any modern cell phone with a camera. However, QR codes have their disadvantages. 

Should the URL inside the QR code change for any reason then the QR code needs to be generated again – which usually means the signage has to be reprinted. This reminds me of an event our company, Captello, ran in Houston, TX about a month ago with a Fortune 500 industrial supplier. The supplier used our QR codes for their scavenger hunt and reported astounding success; although, they found themselves running down the streets of downtown Houston to visit a print shop, pick up the signage, then return to the venue. That process can be costly, time consuming, and error prone. 

Also, be on the lookout for poor print quality! Another event we ran recently with a leader in the global exhibition industry used Captello’s scavenger hunt solution with QR codes, what we refer to as Waypoints, printed on corrugated cardboard. The printer smudged the QR codes, resulting in a somewhat blurry image. Some phones had a hard time scanning the QR code. Since I’m an Apple guy, I would love to blame this on Android – but I’ll take the high ground here and say that any low end camera would struggle scanning blurry QR codes.

Size really does matter. QR codes should be printed at least 4” to 6” in height and length. Some organizers may not understand these requirements or take them subjectively and print tiny-sized QR codes that are hard to see and scan. 

Introducing NFC Scavenger Hunts

NFC, also known as Near Field Communication, is what you likely use every day when you pay at a terminal using your cell phone (via Apple Pay or Google Wallet). If you haven’t done it – try it, it’s a game changer and you can ditch your wallet/purse! Using inspiration from everyday payment systems, Captello has pioneered the use of NFC scavenger hunts. 

Benefits of NFC Powered Scavenger Hunts

How can we get ahead of these issues and provide a better experience? NFC! Captello recently unveiled their NFC scavenger hunt platform in early Q2 2023. The NFC system uses marketing signage with smart NFC tags that are programmed with their respective Waypoints. The primary benefits of NFC scavenger hunts are as follows:

  1. Signage can be printed way ahead of time, saving precious time and usually costing less.
  2. NFC tags can be programmed and re-programmed an “unlimited” number of times, making mistakes okay and easy to correct.
  3. Most everyone can use it as NFC-enabled smartphones are prolific. About 85% of all smartphones have built in NFC capability thanks to the rise of services like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Here’s a comparison between QR and NFC scavenger hunts


QR Scavenger Hunt

NFC Scavenger Hunt


Higher as unique signage has to be printed every time and time taken to print

Lower as signage can be used repeatedly with less administration



High tech, appears innovative


Hard, reprint the signage

Easy, keep signage and reprogram with a cell phone

Ease of use for attendees

High, all smartphones with a camera can scan

High, approximately 9 out of 10 cell phones can use it. Consider QR code as a backup.

Integration with attendee apps or standalone

Identical to NFC

Identical to QR


High, sometimes have to fiddle with camera zoom and distance

Very high, easy to tap if you get within ~ 3” of signage

Adaptability with scavenger hunt

Moderate, hard for people and other assets to wear QR codes 

Very high, can also couple signage with NFC bracelets, buttons, and other stickers


Yes, QR codes can be branded with sponsor/exhibitor logos along with signage

No, only the signage


Should be sized just right at 4” to 6” in length/height

Size doesn’t matter, scan zones will all be the same

Captello’s NFC Scavenger Hunts

We’ve been deploying scavenger hunts with a multitude of organizers for many years. Through these experiences we’ve gained a better understanding of what all stakeholders need, it’s important to consider all of them. Organizers, attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors all have a stake in the experience. Below is a list of how NFC powered scavenger hunts benefits all parties:

Attendees get:

  • Progress reports so they can see how they are doing on their journey, what stops remain, what they’ve accomplished, etc. 
  • Instructions that deliver more information about your NFC scavenger hunt.
  • Individual leaderboards
  • Team leaderboards
  • Rewards

Organizers get:

  • NFC powered Waypoints that can be programmed and re-programmed easily.
  • Configurable Waypoints that deliver points immediately or load unique experiences such as digital activations attendees can play to earn even more points.
  • Brandable Waypoints to enable organizers to create sponsorship revenue.
  • Flexible business models to enable organizers to truly monetize their NFC scavenger hunt program and turn this experience into a profit center.
  • Engagement Zones that provide a framework to fully embed an NFC scavenger hunt into any of our partner’s attendee apps such as Swapcard, Cadmium, SpotMe, Grip, and more.
  • Configurable points per stop / Waypoint to create competition.
  • Brandable individual and team leaderboards that build comradery and create revenue streams from sponsors.
  • Reward system to incentivize attendees to earn more points to cash in.
  • Configurable tokens to help organizers create more revenue streams (think sponsor driven tokens) wherein tokens can be redeemed for reward points and ultimately prizes.

Exhibitors/Sponsors get:

  • Sponsorship opportunities to increase brand visibility
  • Additional traffic to their booth
  • Opportunities for increased engagement
  • Brand experiences

…and much more. 

Organizers have a choice between QR or NFC scavenger hunts from Captello. When designing your next scavenger hunt consider using NFC powered scavenger hunts coupled with an engagement platform such as Captello. To learn more about Captello’s new and innovative NFC scavenger hunts contact your local Captello representative. 

Captello is a multifunctional event platform that provides: Universal Lead Capture, User Customizable Gamification, Marketing Automation, CRM, Lead Management, Sales Enablement, Leader Boards, Point Rewards & e-Gift Cards, Waypoints for Sessions & Scavenger Hunts, Player Profiles, and more with over 3,000 integrations for all common CRM and Marketing Automation platforms.

To see how Captello’s growing library of digital activations (games), universal lead capture, and reward-based solutions can help your company generate more leads at your trade shows, contact us today! 

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