17 Tips to Make Guest Check-In Fast and Efficient

Your check-in process sets the tone for your event. Your guests’ experience at check-in will influence the rest of the event. A smooth process gives people energy and confidence. A slow, disorganized process creates headaches and stress.

With so much riding on this first impression, you’ll want to do everything in your power to make it fast and pain-free. Here are some helpful tips to boost the speed and efficiency of your check-in process.

Free download: Your Streamlined Check-In Checklist

1. Collect Payments Before Check-In

Processing payments at the door will take time and cause congestion, so you’ll want to collect everyone’s money long before they arrive at your event. If possible, handle this task during registration.

Your check-in process sets the tone for your event. Their experience at check-in will influence the rest of the event. Click To Tweet

2. Send a Pre-Check-In Email

If your check-in process is complex, you can prepare your guests by giving them some details about the process before they arrive. This will eliminate confusion and head off questions.

Prepare a “how to check in” email and schedule it for the night before the event. Use it to explain where guests should go, what they should bring, and how they can get the most out of their experience.

Here’s a great example of a check-in email. Notice how it gives out lots of information succinctly. It also includes links to other resources for more information.

Guest check-in

3. Practice with Your Team

It’s not enough to explain the check-in process to your team. You need to give them real experience processing check-ins before they see the first guest.

Host a mock check-in to train your team to handle any problem that might arise. Roleplay as an incoming guest so they can practice. Make a few problems (like an incorrect registration number, lack of ID, or unpaid ticket) for them to overcome.

Most importantly, use team members who are comfortable working with a complex process and handling customer service issues. If you have people on your team that are easily frustrated, assign them to other tasks.

4. Install Self Check-In Kiosks

If you have the budget, rent some check-in kiosks so guests can sign in themselves. Two or three of these can double or triple your check-in speed. It also frees up some of your staff (though it helps to have a team member nearby to help people use the machines).

You can find self check-in kiosks with a whole range of features. Some just have your guests tick their names off a list. Others let them sign up for lectures, check maps, and print tickets, badges, and materials.

5. Create a Priority Check-In Line

Certain groups of people will need to check in faster than others. This might include your speakers, vendors, staff, VIPs, etc. Create a system to identify these people and expedite their check-in quickly.

6. Create a Station for Unregistered Guests

No matter how hard you try to register everyone before your event, a few people will show up without a registration. Prepare for this by creating a separate station for unregistered guests so they don’t disturb the flow of traffic of registered guests.

This is another place you should staff with someone who knows your event well. They should be able to process new registrations and check-ins quickly.

7. Educate Guests with Your Event App

If you use a custom event app, use its push notification features to send important information to your guests about the check-in process, especially if something changes about the process. For instance, you might ask them to have their bags ready to be inspected, to have their IDs ready for verification, or that you’ve opened the doors earlier than they expect.

8. Create a Backup Plans for Software

The last thing you need is for your event management software to crash in the middle of your event. This will quickly turn your check-in process into a nightmare. It’s critical that you have a backup in place. Here are some strategies:

  • Have multiple devices ready that can access the software.
  • Have a mobile hotspot ready in case the Wi-Fi doesn’t work.
  • Keep a printed check-in list nearby so you can do it manually if you have to.
  • Backup your database (even if it’s just an Excel sheet) on a different physical device so you can load it up in case a file corrupts.

Hopefully you never have to use any of these strategies, but they can save you from catastrophe if you experience a major problem.

9. Place Your Check-In Table in a Logical Place

Rather than force people to accommodate your system, it makes more sense to design your event space according to their expectations. This means placing the check-in table in the most logical location, such as right inside or outside the doors or near an eye-catching feature (like a water fountain or statue).

If you can’t place your check-in table in a logical location (maybe you need that space for another attraction), place plenty of signage throughout the venue to direct people. Try to avoid forcing people to cross traffic.

10. Keep Office Supplies Nearby

You never know what you’ll need during check-in, so it’s best to be prepared. Place a box near the check-in table that’s full of basic office supplies, such as pens, markers, tape, scissors, notepaper, white-out, etc.

11. Set Up a Help Table

Your check-in desk is one of the most recognizable places in your event space. People will come to it with their general questions, but this can clog the check-in process. You don’t want to force people to stand in line so they ask can ask where to find the bathroom.

A simple help table or podium, staffed by someone on your team, is a great way to expedite everything. Just make sure this is a knowledgeable person who knows your event and venue well and has a way to find the information they lack.

12. Designate a Queue

This tip seems basic, but it’s profoundly powerful. Every check-in desk needs a queue to keep people organized. If you don’t designate a space for people to line up, they will either…

  • Mass around your check-in desk like a mob. You won’t know who to help first, which will undoubtedly cause some conflicts.
  • Line up wherever they please. This could create a line in a high traffic place that disrupts other event activities.

You can build efficiency into your check-in process by establishing a space for people to queue. Rent some basic velvet ropes or stanchions with retractable belts. If you don’t want to spend the money, simply have a team member stand at the end of the line with a sign that says “Here’s the end of the line.”

13. Have Name Tags and Materials Ready

If you have to give anything out to your guests when they enter, prepare them beforehand. This includes printing, stapling, stuffing folders, and even affixing name tags to pins so there’s one less step to manage at check-in.

14. Limit How Much Paper You Use

Paper is inefficient and time-consuming. With the right event management software, you should be able to check in large numbers of people quickly with the help of a laptop or tablet.

Instead of handing out papers and flyers, distribute everything through your event app so your attendees have everything digitally. Place a QR code or shortened URL somewhere public that links to app stores where people can download the app at the last minute.

15. Make Communication Easy

If there’s a problem at the check-in desk, your team should be able to find you immediately. They shouldn’t have to send a runner to find you while they make the guest wait. This means you’ll need an easy form of communication so your staff can get a hold of you at all times.

There’s no need to complicate things with special tools. Cell phones and radios are the best options. Just make sure you actually answer them. Alternatively, you could set up your base of operations near the check-in desk so you are always available.

16. Keep the Check-In Table Open

Unless you’re 100% sure every guest is present, you’ll want to keep the check-in table open throughout your entire event. Staff one person to wait for arriving guests so you don’t end up with a line of people waiting.

17. Be Ready to Add More People

If every guest decides to arrive at the same time, you’ll need more people stationed at the check-in table to handle the flow. Train multiple team members to serve the traffic so you can add more to check-in tables as needed.

Download this checklist to ensure your check-in process is as smooth and efficient as possible.

Optimize Over Time

If you apply these tips to your check-in process, you’ll create a smooth and efficient experience for your guests. They’ll enter your event venue with high spirits and confidence in your ability to throw a great event. Good luck!

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