Lead capture tools at trade shows should you rent or get your own solution

Lead capture tools at trade shows: should you rent or get your own solution?

One of the main reasons companies attend trade shows is to collect leads to fill their sales pipeline. But an often forgotten vital aspect here is “how.” How will you collect and manage those leads? How will you qualify them and follow up?

Hundreds, if not thousands, of trade show participants might pass by your booth. It is humanly impossible to remember everyone’s first name, let alone their job title or company. You need a reliable solution to collect, save and identify leads with the most potential.

There are a few methods you can use. A traditional scanner (an app to scan business cards or a handheld scanner) you can rent from trade show organizers might be familiar to many, but investing in your own dedicated lead capture platform has also been paving its way. What’s the difference? We are here to find out.

What is a rented scanner?

A rented scanner is usually a mobile app or a handheld scanner intended to scan attendees’ contact data from their business cards or badges. You can rent it at trade shows for a fee.

Rented scanners note down visitors’ information for you to use to your benefit later. Pretty straightforward, right? But this is where this tool’s capabilities become limited.

What you gain from a rented scanner (in the best-case scenario) is name, email address, job title, and company. You only get whatever the trade show guest has entered into the system when signing up for the event, no more or less.You may be thinking: isn’t this information enough? Not in case you want to beat your competition. For example, if we take a handheld scanner, you might not even get that contact information until a few days after the show. If you’re going to collect and manage your leads, identify the hottest ones, and turn them into sales, your best bet would be a dedicated lead capture platform.

What is a lead capture platform?

While one might also call a business card scanner or mobile app a lead capture platform, what we refer to here is a dedicated all-in-one solution to capture and manage leads, and it is a platform you purchase or subscribe to rather than rent.

Think of a lead capture platform as a business card scanner plus a handheld scanner plus a digital sales toolbox with an app on steroids. A lead capture platform can scan your prospects’ contact information from a business card, barcode, or QR code, but then it also has a complete set of different features. It can help you qualify leads, send sales material, or even schedule meetings.If you want to be better at collecting leads, check out our 8 ways to get more (and better) leads at trade shows.

How do a rented scanner and a lead capture platform compare?

Most likely each trade show or event has its own scanner. If you decide to go with the rentals, you will need to rent a different tool each time. The people operating your booth will need to learn how to use a new device each time, using lots of frustrating hours that would better be spent engaging with potential leads.

None of it will worry you if you invest in your own lead capture platform – the same solution at every trade show, the same familiar system your team can efficiently work with.

One-size-fits-all vs. customization

Another issue with a rented scanning device is that it is a one-size-fits-all model with no space for customization. In other words, you are using what the rest of the exhibitors are using at that particular trade show. You cannot stand out from your competition by asking specific qualifying questions or sending sales material on the spot.

With a dedicated lead capture platform, you can do that and more. You can create and customize surveys, allowing you to assess leads’ sales-readiness right there at the booth.

Potentially expensive vs. cost-effective

Renting business card scanners or handheld scanners can take a big chunk of your event budget, as prices vary and you might be attending multiple trade shows in one quarter.

The spendings increase further if you plan to have a large team to operate the booth. Of course, you can always save by making your staff share the scanners, but that takes away efficiency and flexibility, potentially costing you leads.By investing in your own lead retrieval system, you have a predictable budget and put power in your own hands. For example, with the Fairkey platform, your team members simply use the platform through an app on their smartphones at no extra cost.

Measuring event ROI

A rented business card scanner only scans the contact data and the handheld scanner simply scans the badge and gives you basic information with no insights. You have a vague idea of how the trade show went and how many leads were collected, but there is no way of evaluating the success (or failure) because your lead capture device is different each time.


A good lead capture platform will transfer any data you collect at trade shows from the app to the backend, where you will be able to see all the stats in real-time on a dashboard. This will allow you to compare each event and measure ROI.

Collect and qualify your trade show leads with Fairkey

The best part of having a dedicated lead capture platform is consistency. By being consistent, you can measure and predict your event ROI, increasing your chance for more and better leads.

Fairkey is a lead capture platform that helps you do just that.

Customized surveys to qualify your leads, sharing sales material on the spot, connecting on LinkedIn, scheduling meetings, measuring ROI, and fast follow-up are possible in one lead capture solution, available to you in 28 languages, both online and offline.

If you are ready to maximize your lead capture at trade shows or other events that help you fill up your sales pipeline, you are welcome to try Fairkey for free and explore the benefits of having your own lead capture system:

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