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Streamlining Registration At Large Events With Face Recognition [Case Study]

By Zenus

This is a case study from Zenus. Look for more information about Event Manager Blog’s case studies.


Keller Williams (KW) Family Reunion is one of the real estate industry’s most powerful training events. The inaugural event took place in 2005 in Las Vegas and attracted an audience of 7,400 people. In 2019, the four-day conference in New Orleans welcomed a crowd of over 18,000 people.


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That tremendous growth left Keller Williams organizers looking for a solution that would give them greater insights into crowd flow and easier, more efficient check-in and registration.


The Event

The Family Reunion event brought together thousands of Keller Williams’ top agents, management and executives for four action-packed days of networking and training.

This event serves to re-energize attendees with the Vision and State of Your Company presentation and announcements but also assists them in taking their business to the next level by learning from the best real estate entrepreneurs in the business, attending inspiring sessions, and immersing themselves in KW culture.


Quick Facts

keyboard_arrow_right The event lasted four days from February 16-19, 2019
keyboard_arrow_right It was held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans
keyboard_arrow_right Over 18,000 agents, managers and KW executives converged on NOLA for this event


The Objective

While Keller Williams used a combination of registration technologies, Zenus’s facial recognition software brought life to their main objective: increasing adoption of the facial recognition technology to streamline the registration and check-in process.



The Challenges

This was the third time KW used facial recognition for easy check-in and registration, so they were able to get ahead of past challenges.

To give you an idea of what to look out for, here are some of the issues KW learned to overcome:

Poor quality images.

A quality check is required. Some attendees may upload a picture of their pet, a blurry image, or a group shot, and these pictures are simply not suitable for facial recognition

A preponderance of noise.

One email call to action won’t result in 100% participation because of the large amount of “noise” out there vying for attendees’ attention

A lack of understanding of the technology.

Getting people to understand the benefit of facial recognition and the security behind it is integral to a pleasant experience. With new privacy and security issues and concerns emerging all the time, attendees might feel uneasy about giving someone permission and the ability to recognize their face in images

Tricky software integration.

The integration process can be a big pain point. However, facial recognition can operate as an add-on, so integration is not always necessary

Justifying the return on investment.

Facial recognition software increases efficiency of tasks like check-in and registration but how else will it be used and what returns will the event receive?

Understanding implementation.

Some event planners who implement facial recognition think they need to spend a lot of time and money integrating it into their registration system. KW used Zenus’ facial recognition system as an add-on to the online registration software system, thus bypassing what could’ve been a costly integration without sacrificing any functionality


How Were the Objectives Achieved?

Partnering with Zenus and using lessons from their earlier events, KW created a quality check and process to optimize results and usage that implemented the following:

  • keyboard_arrow_right Using facial recognition software to check people in quickly, no fumbling for tickets or passes
  • keyboard_arrow_right Ensuring maximal attendee participation with email campaign, directing attendees to a branded microsite and prompting them to take a selfie or upload an image
  • keyboard_arrow_right Educating attendees on what was in it for them (easier registration and check-in) if they participated
  • keyboard_arrow_right Prompting registrants for a human face and high-quality image if a lesser one was uploaded


The Results

The event was the third use of facial recognition software for Keller Williams, and they wanted to increase adoption and the quality of the images submitted to make the use of the technology much more effective.

Improving the Opt-in for Facial Recognition. Keller Williams and Zenus personalized the approach they took toward adoption to reduce challenges over the course of three events: Spring Masterminds, Mega Camp, and Family Reunion.

Spring Masterminds

KW collected pictures during the online registration process.


  • Challenge:

    Many uploaded images weren’t suitable for the facial recognition tool.


  • What they learned:

    a quality check is essential to getting the best images

    Registered attendees: 1,360

    Participating attendees: 664

    Opt-in rate: 49%


Mega Camp

KW collected pictures online and with a follow-up email campaign. The email campaign included a button prompting registered attendees to submit their headshot. Clicking on the button linked users to a custom-branded microsite developed by Zenus.

This microsite welcomed the attendee by name and offered two options to submit a photo:

keyboard_arrow_right take a selfie
keyboard_arrow_right upload an existing image

Uploaded images underwent a quick quality check to ensure they matched the standards for accurate face recognition.



  • Challenge:

    Pulling images collected through the online registration platform and merging / reconciling them with the images collected through the email campaigns


  • What they learned:

    Using email campaigns for collecting images would likely have sufficed as thousands of people opted in leading up to the event and a couple thousand on the day of

    Registered attendees: 8,924

    Participating attendees: 5,826

    Opt-in rate: 65%



KW decided to remove the upload step from registration entirely. They used email blasts exclusively. Registrants received a confirmation email, which included a button to submit a headshot. They received follow-up reminders too.

  • Challenge:

    Personalized emails sent after registration and outside of the confirmation email yielded a higher opt-in.


  • What they learned:

    Initial opt-in on the confirmation email: 15%

    First email reminder:  another 28%

    Final total as of the event: 68%

    KW then sent out scheduled reminders to improve participation even further.


Here is an email example:


Here is an example of the image analyzer and quality score:


The image collection microsite analyzes the image and can tell if there is no face in the photo or if a group photo is submitted. Real-time feedback is offered to the end user to ensure proper enrollment.


How Facial Technology Worked At Family Reunion

The day of the event: KW event planners had 15 kiosks fitted with a standard web-camera. As attendees walked toward the kiosks, the camera scanned their face. If a match was found, the system returned a message welcoming them by name. If a match was not found, the attendees were asked to either scan their barcode or enter their name.

The fact that all kiosks were equipped with facial recognition made the check-in easy.

Recognition time: under one second

Internet consumption per kiosk: less than 1Mbps.

Attendees did not have to worry about printing out tickets or fumbling for identification.

Data security note: Images were immediately discarded upon enrollment and biometric data was deleted one week after the event ended.


Applied Learning for Your Event

Using technology to improve efficiency is a great idea. Here are a few tips for the implementation process:

  • keyboard_arrow_right Facial recognition greatly reduces check-in time. A smooth check-in experience sets the tone for an enjoyable attendee experience
  • keyboard_arrow_right Don’t feel the pressure to find facial recognition solutions that have built-in integrations with your existing software. Zenus can be used in conjunction with your other tools, and are available to help you collect the images you need
  • keyboard_arrow_right Collecting good quality pictures online is essential to success, but don’t leave it up to attendees to judge what’s good quality. Use a system that provides immediate feedback and a quality score
  • keyboard_arrow_right If directing registrants to a microsite, brand it to the event so they don’t feel like they’re going to an unknown site, and personalize the welcome screen
  • keyboard_arrow_right Use additional options, like barcode scanning and email lookups from all check-in stations, to keep things moving
  • keyboard_arrow_right Leave the camera at the check-in kiosk on, and implement face recognition through a video stream (some registration companies use face recognition with still images, and the check-in interface asks the attendee to take a picture and submit it, and then it identifies them, which slows down the process)
  • keyboard_arrow_right Use face recognition in all check-in kiosks, and not just dedicated lines, because people might not remember if they have uploaded a picture


In Conclusion

Facial recognition events are becoming more and more popular due to the increased efficiency in handling large crowds and the qualitative and logistical data planners can derive from traffic analysis.

For planners considering facial recognition, there are some best practices you’ll want to keep in mind, including adding a quality check to ensure a useable image as well as email reminder campaigns and education on the benefits to attendees in order to improve user participation.




about the author

Zenus is an award-winning facial recognition company. As a premier technology provider for the events industry, they excel on large-scale deployments and optimal user experience. Their service is added on top of existing registration platforms, giving every event planner access to a high-end technology at an affordable price.
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