Event check-in is one of the most stressful components of an event. It’s also the first impression your guests will have of the event and possibly your brand, making it critical that you manage every detail just right. In the past, manual processes have made it challenging to provide good event experiences for attendees. Using hard copies of lists to search and mark off attendee names is time-consuming and create long lines. When badges are misplaced or misspelled, getting a new one printed could be difficult and sometimes require check-in staff to resort to fixing with a marker. Thankfully, manual processes are becoming a thing of the past.
Greater Efficiency Means Less Waiting
One of the biggest changes in attendee check-in over the past several years is the ability to use technology to reduce check-in wait times. Instead of looking for attendee names on a six-page list, check-in staff can now use a simple and cost-effective check-in app on their tablet or smartphone. Attendees names can be found through a quick alphabetical search or by a confirmation number, email, or quick QR scan. Alternatively, attendees can check themselves in at kiosks equipped with tablets.
The investment in check-in apps and tablets are typically affordable for even small- to mid-size events, reducing the number of check-in staff you need and frees up time to focus on other critical event planning details.
What to expect in the future: Better integration with big data will allow the check-in process to become more personalized and engaging, as check-in staff can recommend sessions and exhibits based on attendees’ job title, previous event history, or other data.
Badges on Demand
Another headache of attendee check-in is issuing badges. Pre-printing badges often lead to wastage, since approximately 20 percent of attendees end up being no-shows. Even when alphabetized, it can be time-consuming to sift through hundreds of names to find the correct one, and then it may still be misspelled.
Wireless printing technology makes it easy to now print badges on demand, allowing you to confirm the name and spelling while saving time, paper, and money. If you opt for self-check-in kiosks, you can have wireless badge printers nearby, so attendees can preview, edit, and print their badge on their own.
What to expect in the future: 3-D printing could move from novelty to mainstream, not just for badge printing, but for event décor, swag, and more.
Ideally, all attendees will have registered online and paid in advance, but as all event planners know—it’s important to expect the unexpected. Perhaps an attendee wants to upgrade to the VIP level to gain more networking opportunities or an unregistered attendee arrives. Credit card readers that attach to mobile devices allow quick and secure payment collection just by swiping a credit card, keeping a smooth check-in process and ensuring you collect all monies due upfront.
What to expect in the future: Expect to see sensor integration and wearable technology speed the check-in and payment process even further. With a RFID wristband, for example, attendees could check in, make payments, and print their badges.
More Personal, More Mobile
Another event technology that is changing the check-in process is the use of mobile apps. Attendees can not only check themselves in, but stay informed and engaged throughout the event. Through the use of GPS and beacon technology, attendees can be seamlessly guided from check-in to their first session, avoiding the painful experience of leaving the check-in table with no clue where to go next.
What to Expect in the Future: Mobile technology will continue to improve attendee engagement and personalize the check-in experience. Event planners can track attendees progress to the event, pinpointing their exact arrival time so staff can be ready to greet VIP attendees. Through geolocation technology staff can also communicate with attendees through mobile apps about any event updates, weather or traffic issues, making the entire check-in process more seamless, customized, and engaging.
Bringing It All Together
The event check-in process is easier than ever, but planners can expect future technology to keep pushing the boundaries of how to make the check-in process faster, less painful, and more personal. A centralized event platform that integrates attendee data from online registration to check-in to check-out creates the most seamless experience for both event planners and attendees and allows technology advances in big data, sensors, and Wi-Fi to become even more integrated in the future.