There are good reasons to improve guest check-in at your events. The entrance is the first point of contact with your audience. It is your chance as an event organiser to make a good first impression on your guests.
A smooth check-in flow keeps the excitement levels high—and the queue length down. It also sets the tone for what’s about to come.
Conversely, a negative impression can harm your reputation before the event even kicks off. Long waiting times can dampen the atmosphere you’ve tried so hard to create.
Thus, as an event organiser, there are many things to consider to ensure the smooth management of queues.
Major considerations when checking guests in at events
Before we get into the “how” of checking in your guests, there are some preparations you need to have a look at first.
1. Set up entry points
More than one check-in counter should be available for the guests, especially if we are talking thousands of attendees.
That requires a venue that has multiple doorways or entry passages. The sooner the audience can get past the point of entry, the happier they will be.
Tip: Read our guide on how to find the ideal venue so you can vet this ahead of time.
2. Have multiple check-ins
Multiple check-ins prevent swarming of guests at a single point. A long queue makes event organisers look incompetent. The goal should be to minimise the queues as soon as possible.
3. Choose the right people for the job
As an event organiser, one of your jobs is to hire the right people to manage the event guest list. Someone with good people skills should handle face-to-face registrations. A team member who is exceptionally meticulous should handle the paperwork. And so on.
4. Have enough manpower
Every entrance should have at least one individual checking in the guests. When catering to big crowds, it is also essential to have more than one person for the job, in case of an emergency.
5. Have a back-up plan when working with software
Apps and software have a tendency to crash when you least expect it—or want it to. What then? Always have a back-up plan, be it a personal hotspot if WiFi goes down or keeping a paper sheet to tally the checked-in guests.
6. Choose the right resource
Ensure that you’re using the quickest way to register attendees to prevent any delays. Paper sheets are old school, yet get the job done. But you may want to tick names off of a digital list in an app instead.
Tip: Check out our ticketing app to see if that’s a solution that can work for your event.
7. Sort out the giveaways
Are you going to hand your guests a wristband, drink tickets, goodie bags, or other materials as they come in? If you are, sort these out in advance to keep the flow of people going and avoid queues.
8. Keep signage simple
Don’t we all hate queue jumpers? They can ruin everybody’s mood in seconds. As the event organiser, you don’t want that. To prevent someone from jumping the line, put up some simple and straightforward signage.
Tip: Read our guide to event signage to get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Event check-in process
The event check-in process includes many tasks from greeting the guests to checking them in at the gates and handing them the event programme.
It can seem straightforward: Ask the guests about their name, look them up on the list or system, and hand them the programme for the event.
As simple as it may seem, there are unforeseen circumstances that can become a problem for the otherwise simple check-in process.
1. Event crashers
Imagine someone without an invitation or ticket trying to gain entry to the event. Not only will searching for their name on the list be a dead end, but they will also hold the line and waste everyone’s time.
Tip: You can prepare for this by reading more about how to keep event crashers away.
2. Handing out materials
If you plan to hand out badges, wristbands, or cards at the entrance, be sure to sort it out beforehand. When handing personalised materials, set up a separate table to direct the guests forward.
Tip: This article details how you can keep your event materials organised.
3. Unexpected (but welcome) guests
Did a high-profile guest bring a “plus-one”? Did a guest apologise for missing the RSVP deadline? Does he or she want to register right now?
All these can hinder the process of smooth check-in for other guests at your event. Discuss how to handle such requests with your event manager prior to the event. This will save you time on the day.
Ideas for guest check-in at events
There are many ways to check in guests at events, from the traditional pen-and-paper methods to the more advanced methods for tech-savvy event planners.
1. Manual check-ins
Though not appreciated as much these days, manual check-ins are still very convenient and cost-effective for small crowds. They involve the use of a simple pen and a printed guest list.
RFID bracelets have gained popularity in recent times. They require an NFC-enabled tablet or smartphone for scanning. They use an attendee’s information and allow them to enter restricted areas. RFID bracelets also help event organisers keep track of the foot traffic.
3. Check-in kiosks
Self-registration kiosks allow individual check-ins without any help from your event staff. Registrants can use their QR codes to check themselves in and avoid standing in queues.
A tech-savvy demographic will appreciate tablets mounted on a pedestal or table. These will allow self-registration with an easy-to-use interface. They are also easy to move around and take up very little space.
Turnstiles are ideal when most of your events take place at the same venue. They come with a built-in barcode reader, allowing for easy scanning. They don’t need any staffing, either. Since they don’t require any manual checking, these are great for VIP events such as charity balls and galas.
6. Event apps
Event apps make the process of registrations hassle-free. Some might even have a self-check-in option built in to further ease the process. They cut the need for logistics such as queues and registration desks. Such applications are ideal when dealing with big crowds, as guests can scan tickets on their phones.
Tip: Check out our list of the best event apps so you know which one to choose for your event.
7. Barcode scanners
Barcode ticket scanners are handheld gadgets that scan QR codes and barcodes. They are single-purpose devices dedicated to scanning tickets and can help scan many barcodes at once.
Get ready for check-in
Check-ins can be stressful, but they don’t have to be. We hope with these tips and guidelines, you can better manage event sign-in.
Do let us know in the comments how you handle check-in points and share what works for you best.