Would you intentionally make your event participants suffer?
The question sounds weird, I know. Who’d want to make their event attendees feel inadequacy or frustration?
However, some of your planning decisions may lead to a stressful experience and set a negative tone for the entire event.
One of the important elements you must cover when designing the attendee journey is the accreditation process. This is required for confirming your guests’ identity and giving them access to an event or a certain area of the event.
Not providing a stress-free check-in procedure may lead to unwanted consequences.
Although the interaction with the event itself starts long before attendees even register, the accreditation procedure is the initial in-situ experience your guests will have.
You don’t want to leave a bad first impression, but there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Here are just few of them:
How the check-in procedure may go wrong
Undermining the importance and complexity of the accreditation process may cause certain challenges that can negatively affect the experience of your attendees.
When setting up the check-in, you’ll have to avoid issues, such as:
Long waiting lines and lack of flow
So your event guests arrive to the venue, believing they’ll quickly check in and then grab a cup of coffee and start networking.
Yet, when they enter the venue, they see … an interminable queue of people waiting for their credentials. Certainly people won’t be excited about waiting a half hour to check in and probably missing the beginning of the opening session.
Registered attendees who don’t have a badge
How many times have you or your team members checked in someone who has already registered, but you can’t find the badge?
Whether it’s a system failure or time constraints, the person responsible for the accreditation process may not be able to find an attendee’s badge, which can leave a bad impression and contributing to the length of the waiting line.
“I forgot to print it at home!”
What happens if you sent the badge with the registration confirmation, but the guest forgot to print it or bring it to the event?
If you don’t have a small printer you can use in-situ, your guest will be left without a badge. This will make his or her networking interactions more difficult. Apart from that, it might lead to the attendee feeling a bit left out or “isolated.”
The attendee’s name is misspelled or wrong on the badge
It’s not always a system problem—sometimes attendees can accidentally make an error when introducing their information.
Regardless, it’s not the most pleasant thing to receive a badge with your name (or country, or company name) listed inaccurately. This will definitely have a negative impact on the attendee’s overall experience, before the event has officially even started.
Another challenge that may disrupt the accreditation procedure of the attendees is weak coordination efforts between your team members.
As Julia Rutherford Silvers highlights, “Your admissions staff must be provided with the appropriate training so they will recognize and implement the accreditation system effectively and efficiently.”
However, you are running the risk of poorly planning the in-situ logistics and coordination for the check-in procedure.
This can lead to confusion and chaos, both of which are very unwelcome guests at your event.
Considering these mistakes to avoid, you can identify multiple ways of setting up a stress-free check-in procedure. However, there are some good practices you’ll want to follow with any event.
How to plan a stress-free check-in for your guests
Good practice #1. Choose the self-check-in option
The easiest way to accredit the attendees is to let them do it themselves.
When people register for the event, they’ll receive an online document with a badge that they can print.
Apart from their name, company, and other details, this badge can contain also a QR code they can scan if they want to enter the event venue. It’s easy and fast.
There’s no need for someone to check off their names on the list, search for the badge, and only after that, allow them access to the venue.
But still be sure to assign a few people to the check-in area, in case some attendees have issues with the self check-in.
A stress-free check-in procedure will allow guests to access the event venue at a rapid pace.
Good practice #2. Set up different accreditation tables for attendee types
If you insist on accrediting people manually, you’ll have to set up a check-in desk, where people can come and ask for their credentials.
To avoid long waiting lines and confusion, it’s recommended to prepare different accreditation areas for different types of attendees.
For example, if you plan a trade show, it would be more efficient to set up one check-in desk for the exhibitors, another check-in desk for the visitors, another for the speakers (in case there are knowledge sessions), etc.
This will keep everything more organized and provide a stress-free check-in.
Good practice #3. Introduce an extra fee for the in-situ printing of the badges
Whether it’s because they forgot or didn’t pay attention to the requirements, some attendees won’t remember to print their badge. This means you or your staff will have to go the trouble of printing the badges. This will definitely slow down the accreditation process.
To keep this from happening, you can always warn attendees ahead of time that there will be a fee for in-situ printing of the badge. That might determine the guests to remember to print their badges in advance.
Good practice #4. Prepare the goody bags before the event
If you plan on having some goody bags or promotional materials from your sponsors, make sure to have them ready before the event. This will increase the check-in speed considerably.
Think about it: If you decide to just build each goody bag individually as each person checks in, you’ll be wasting precious time you could be using to check in more attendees.
To guarantee a stress-free check-in, it’s always best to limit the number of tasks related to handing the goody bags. It has to be simple and as fast as possible.
Good practice #5. Ensure you have enough staff at the check-in desk
There should be no shortage of volunteers or team members on hand to accredit the attendees. You’ll have to figure out how many people you need at the accreditation area based on how many guests you’re expecting the day of the event.
In addition, you must brief all volunteers before the event. During the meeting you'll assign tasks each person has to accomplish during the check-in procedure.
Although relevant, the number of accreditation volunteers isn’t as important as the way you organize their tasks. If they can identify the attendees and give the credentials both quickly and flawlessly, your guests will have a stress-free check-in experience.
In his research about waiting lines, Don Norman, the director of The Design Lab at University of California, makes the following remark: “Get people happy and smiling and people around will be happy and smiling. But have one person upset or angry, and these emotions will spread.”
Considering this, it’s your responsibility to make the guest accreditation simple and fast. Provide a stress-free check-in and leave a good first impression on your attendees. This crucial for an overall positive event experience.