Heavy sighs, loud tuts & deliberating comments from frustrated attendees waiting in line to attend your event. A nightmare for planners and definitely not something that contributes to a smooth registration process.
Unfortunately, we see (& hear) this in our business every day.
If long queues at your events are causing you anxiety and fear, here are 9 field-tested tips to ensure a smooth registration process & attendee experience.
Tip #1 – Find Your A-Team To Ensure A Smooth Registration Process
First impressions count. Running an awesome event registration desk is key. Your staff is the absolute front line of your event and those are the ones creating the crucial first impression of your event as a whole.
Instead of working with volunteers or contractors, train your own team or work with professional on-site partners specializing in running registration desks.
You need an A-Team and you want your best, shiniest, happiest and most awesome individuals at the front line.
If instead, you’re team consists of a bunch of sleeping tablets, lazily relaxing in that chair, chewing bubble gum, you won’t make that nice first impression. Fear not, you might be able to find other more suitable tasks like hanging up signage for example. (Apologies for the irony here)
Tip #2 – Signage & People Flow Matter
Think this through.
What do you want to happen at the registration counter? Should the check-in be a single or multi-step process, i.e. should event swag be picked up in a different location than the badges. Maybe.
You can mitigate long queues by directing people to the right location where your staff can be most helpful. If you’re working with a dedicated onsite registration partner, they should be able to guide you in the right direction.
After all, they should have managed thousands of events already.
Tip #3 – Prepare An On-Site Briefing Sheet
And make your team learn it well enough before the event starts so that they dream about it and are able to recite it backwards.
Your sheet should include things like:
- Scripts for greeting and directing
- Badge holder & lanyard types
- Printed materials
- Bade codes for other handouts
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Seriously, the on-site briefing sheet is one of the most important documents to guarantee a smooth registration & check-in experience.
Tip #4 – Add Staff For Peak Times To Ensure A Smooth Registration Process
This seems like a no-brainer but is often overlooked.
Much of the bottleneck occurs just before a welcome reception or a training breakfast. In fact, your event registration software provider can provide you with in-depth stats and data on check-in times from previous years.
So in order to avoid an event nightmare, make sure you have extra staff ready to help out in those peak times.
First impressions count. Running an effective registration desk is key.
Tip #5 Have a Soft Registration Opening
What does that mean? Well, it simply means that you need to do a few dry runs with your team before opening up the registration desk to your attendees.
This allows your team to gain confidence and work out the processes and on-site technology.
Every event is unique, so there is no one-site fits all recipe.
Tip #6 Send Registration Confirmations in Advance
Scanning registration confirmations is much faster than browsing names manually. Sadly, most attendees tend to fumble for their confirmation email upon arriving at the check-in counter or kiosk.
You can mitigate this by having someone control the queue line reminding attendees to have their IDs, confirmations, or whatever else at hand before they arrive at the counter.
This can significantly speed up and smoothen the registration & check-in process and therefore the overall event experience.
Registration confirmations can be printed with barcodes or QR codes and can be scanned from smartphones or tablets.
Remember, the check-in process should not be an event in itself.
Tip #7 – Offer Digital Self Check-In Kiosks
You can employ self-registration kiosks which allow attendees to check-in, make payment or print badges on-demand. These kiosks will significantly reduce your queue times, especially at large-scale events.
People are used to self-check in at airports or self check-out at super markets, so they will definitely welcome the idea of self-service at your next event.
Tip #8 – Consider Satellite Check-Ins For A Smooth Registration Experience
Often times, your attendees will be checking into the hotel the night before, so offering check-ins desks in those places can significantly reduce the queues the next morning.
Tip #9 – Everyone In The Right Line Please
It’s important that everyone is queuing in the correct lines. You can set up queues based on the attendee type or classification, with an additional queue for VIP guests.
In order to avoid confusion, make sure you have clear signage or assign queue monitors to greet the attendees and usher them to the right queues.
Bonus: Here’s what you can do when queues can’t be avoided
Sometimes, queues are inevitable at certain events, think Apple launches, Comicons, GES. This doesn’t mean it’s a complete disaster. Instead, focus on the positives and see it as an opportunity for engagement during a long wait.
For a fact, it’s not often you get so many of your guests right in front of you. (And they won’t go anywhere!)
Here’s what you can do:
Many event organizers opt in for ambient music during the registration. DJ’s can set a mood and add some life to the process. Others serve freshly baked brownies or hot coffee to make the waiting period more comfortable.
Or, you can simply go and speak to your attendees. Get to know them, collect some feedback and get them hyped for the event.
Following the nine tips can certainly help you create a smooth registration process. Prior preparation is key. A dry run with the entire team will expose flaws in your process and uncover the missing elements in your seemingly perfect event plan.
Working with a dedicated on-site experience specialist will take one worry of your plate and ensure that attendees are happy the moment they step into your venue.