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We all know the saying you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and never is this more true than at an event. Here are some ideas on how you can make your first impression great.
With so much to organise to create a great event, from delivering the best possible content and ensuring the AV works to just making sure everyone is fed and watered, it’s no surprise the experience your attendees have when they first arrive is often overlooked.
Yet ensuring things run smoothly on arrival is critical for a successful event. The way people are managed when they reach the venue sets the tone for the entire event and affects their mood by the time they sit down for your first session. First impressions really do count, and there’s lots you can do to ensure check-in runs smoothly and everyone is happy with their first interaction.
Luckily you no longer have to rely on manual processes and there are great solutions available to help manage things pre event and onsite.
Before They Arrive
It’s quite normal for people to pre-register online for events but often registrations collected online are not integrated with email communications, so changes and updates are completed in manual registration lists, which are prone to error can get lost. Using an event management system which integrates with your email allows people to update their registration record and automatically keeps your attendee lists up to date.
If you charge for events, you can take payments online or send invoices and the system will keep you informed of who has paid or who has an outstanding balance – critical for managing check-ins on the day.
One solution which is now quite common is to send the attendee their badge via email with the confirmation or final joining instructions, so they can bring it on their phone or print in advance. This has become standard for air travel so most people are familiar with the process. Adding a barcode or QR code to the email or badge aids tracking and ensures a smooth arrival.
Don’t Make Them Wait in Line…
I’ve attended a few events recently where the queue has been out the door and we waited 20 minutes to get it, or where on arrival I was greeted by a table full of badges and mine couldn’t be found – it was chaos!
Paper sign-in sheets should be a thing of the past since there are now great solutions to check people in using a simple check-in app, running on a tablet or even a smartphone. These have transformed the check-in process, and are affordable and easy enough to use for any size of event, not just for a big budget conferences or exhibitions.
For staffed events you simply ask for a name, look it up and swipe to check them in. Better still, you can run the app in kiosk mode and allow people to check themselves in just by typing their name or registration number, or scanning a QR or barcode – just like at the airport - and save on staff. Ensure you have enough stations for peak arrival times and the volume of attendees and you’ll never have a line of people waiting again.
Save the Trees!
I remember the days when we’d stay up all night before the event, checking registration details, correcting spelling errors and typos, printing badges and stuffing wallets, then arranging them in boxes in alphabetical order. Finding them when people arrived was never easy, especially with unusual names and spellings, then once everyone was in we would have boxes of them left over. Since free events can have a no-show rate of up to 40 or 50% that’s a lot of wasted badges, time and effort.
Today you can easily print badges on demand, so when someone arrives and they’re checked in their badge pops out in seconds and none are wasted. More importantly, people aren’t waiting while you search for their badge and waiting lines disappear. Alternatively, send their badge in advance and they can print it themselves, simply scan their QR code, grab a lanyard and sail right through.
Prepare for the (Un)expected
One of the worst things about pre-printed badges is misspelt names, or wrong job titles or companies which need to be changed. When you check someone in on an app you can show them how the badge will look and make any changes before printing – no more wasted badges, or worse a badge which has been amended in pen.
Of course there are always people who forget to register in advance and walk in on the day, or someone who’s come in place of a colleague. When you use a check-in app taking new registrations is easy and they just complete a simple form to register, check-in and print their badge all in one go. If it is a paid for event you can attach a simple device to the iPad to read credit cards and take payment immediately – no more debt chasing.
With simpler, more affordable solutions available today for streamlining the onsite check-in experience there’s no more need for long queues and stressed registration staff, nor for paper sign-in sheets or boxes of printed badges. Your attendees will breeze through registration feeling happy and impressed and ready for the day ahead.
Even better news is you won’t have to spend hours post event updating spreadsheets or registration reports, since you’ll have real-time information from your check-in app on who has arrived onsite through the day. Your registration records are magically updated with attendance status and your attendees and no-shows will have their “thank you” or “sorry we missed you” emails before they get home. Bliss!