How to Ensure a Smooth Conference Check-In Process

Participant check-in should always be seen as an integral part of the invitation and registration process for your event. There are some fundamental decisions to be made for each event that will have a major impact on the check-in planning process.

For example, if you don’t have much space in the entrance area of your event, or if you’re expecting large numbers of participants to arrive at the same time, then it makes sense to provide participants with personalized tickets with QR codes. Not only can a QR code be recorded in a split second using a smartphone, tablet, or hand scanner, but the software used for participant management also provides immediate feedback with the information on the person recorded. Check-ins like this can be completed within 5 seconds. Also, remember to consider checking the 3G rule, a green pass, or any other Covid-19 requirement.

What Is Important When Designing the Check-in Area?

If your event pulls off a great first impression, it is most likely thanks to a smooth and efficient check-in process. It sets the tone for a great event to follow. 

To encourage this positive first impression, event organizers should make the right preliminary considerations and leave neither counter opening times nor route finding to chance.

Here are some common things to consider when designing the check-in process: 

Does the number of counters match the size of the event?

Occupying just one counter is usually not enough for a conference. Most attendees are expected to arrive on the first day and possibly the same time frame. It is therefore important not to keep anyone waiting long and not to overwhelm the staff. Calculate a check-in time of around one minute per person. With 1,000 participants, it is best to plan around ten counters.

Can everyone find their way?

If only a handful of visitors arrive at the counters while the rest are lost, an unclear route could be the cause. Very few will move on familiar terrain when they arrive on site. To help you find your way around a bit, you should put up signposts and signs. Make sure that all signs are clearly visible and are not covered by plants or objects.

Is it clear when counters are occupied?

Just because there are many counters doesn’t mean that they are manned around the clock. Above all, it is important that no one is closed during peak hours. As soon as these are over, it is okay if only one part remains open as an information desk, where the staff can help with all kinds of questions.

Do the visitors know about it?

The best planning is useless if nobody is aware of it. Use the conference website and event app to find out how check-in will go. Please also give the times when you can check in.

What Should You Watch Out for When Printing Name Badges?

Once the badges have been designed, you can start printing. However, so that everyone can be given a name badge later when they check in, some organizational questions must first be clarified.

Is there a schedule for when to print?

When it comes to printing, you have to decide: should all badges be ready before the start of the conference or should they come out of the printer on-site? Perhaps you also accept registrations on-site and therefore prefer a combination of both options. In the case of pre-printing, this should be organized in such a way that the finished copies are with you at least two days before the start.

Can the badges be made quickly?

This is particularly about how the information comes on the signs. Surely no one wants to manually transfer several thousand names from the list of participants to each badge. It is easier to transfer the information directly using a participant management software. This is also important if a badge has to be reprinted because it has been lost, for example.

Is it clear how the badges should be worn?

Glue, pin or hang – there is more than one way of wearing the finished name badges. If yours are to be worn around the neck, you will also need lanyards and possibly covers. Obtain the necessary materials in good time and make sure that everything is available in sufficient numbers.

Are all materials ready?

Make sure you have everything ready in good time that you want to hand over to visitors when they check in. Check that the conference folders are complete and that all name tags are present. Also, be careful not to mix up badges. This creates unnecessary effort later and means that checking in with at least two participants will not go without problems.

You Should Have a Check-in Manager

Often too many areas of responsibility are assigned to one person at events. Especially at larger events, in addition to the check-in, the program, the catering, the technology, and your own management regularly require attention. Accordingly, it is almost impossible to additionally take care of the admission of the guests.

Therefore, one person should only be responsible for check-in before and during the event. Even for smaller events, you should define a person from your team or organization who is responsible for checking in. This should know the timing and have a clear idea of the processes defined in the playbook. Your guests and the check-in staff will surely thank you.

Some Tasks a Check-in Manager Should Do

  • The check-in manager should also be responsible for the hardware and software used at the entrance. Here test runs and checks of such mundane things as the charge level of batteries or checking the Internet connection are crucial.
  • You should always start setting up the check-in and the hardware used early enough to have enough time for briefings and test runs with the check-in staff and for any necessary optimization or replacement of defective devices.
  • One point that is often overlooked is how and when the check-in should be dismantled. For larger events, it is advisable to gradually reduce the number of stations down to the help desk, which usually remains open until the official end of the event. The often-expensive devices used at the check-in must be carefully packed again and checked for completeness. As soon as you close a check-in station, the hardware should also be safely stowed away.
  • As banal as it may sound, collecting guest lists that may have been printed out is also an important point. Finally, there are personal data of your guests, which according to the GDPR may not be publicly visible on the lists. Who would want their guests’ data to fall into the wrong hands?

Always Have Backup Equipment and Staff

Basically, it is always good to have a backup for check-in. This can range from replacement devices available on-site to replacement staff for the check-in who are available on standby in a timely manner. For example, if you work with hand scanners to capture QR codes, then you should at least have a replacement device ready. Printers should have enough toner and paper available. If you depend on an Internet connection when you check-in, you should ensure a backup – e.g., via your own LTE router.

The effort for a backup mostly results from the importance of the event or its participants. The more high-profile the participants or the more expensive the tickets, the more important it is to have a fully functioning check-in.

When it comes to the number of check-in stations, it also makes sense to plan more generously.

Send a “Reminder” to All Guests Shortly Before the Event

Even after your guests have accepted the invitation, be sure to keep in touch with them. Send them reminders about the event, or offer sneak-peaks into what they could get out of your event. This will ensure a higher rate of actual participants, and also optimize the check-in process with specific information.

Use the Reminder to Inform Them About the Check-in Process

  • Advice on arrival and departure as well as parking possibilities etc. can be helpful.
  • Point out the timing of the event: When does check-in begin and when does the actual program of the event begin?
  • If there are tickets and these should be presented as a printout at check-in, inform your participants of this and preferably attach the personal tickets again as an attachment or link.

Provide Your Team with Statistics

A question that is asked by the host’s organization team or the management of the host to the check-in staff of almost every event is the question of the number of guests already present or the question of the presence of very specific people. With digital solutions, this information is always available in real time.

When you use a digital check-in, you make the data accessible to the relevant stakeholders in your organization. These can be important not only for the course of the event but also, for example, for employees in sales. Information about the arrival of important customers can be very valuable for your colleagues in sales in order to be able to greet them personally at the entrance. You can provide your colleagues with an app via which every employee is informed about the arrival of important guests on their smartphone.

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