Online registration for events is nearly universal now. Sophisticated event apps maintain a personalized agenda in attendees’ phones. However, people still have to check in once they physically arrive at the venue to obtain an identification badge. This is where the event experience can go awry, souring perceptions just moments after walking in the door. If people’s first impression of your event is waiting in line, you’ve made a mistake.
Empowering attendees to check themselves in can eliminate the wait and get the event off on the right foot. In some industries, it’s been said that self-service is the new full service. But it’s most true in the events business. If you do self-service well, it brings not just lower costs, but also a much better attendee experience.
Simple, intuitive self-service check-in that makes a professional first impression is something that any event tech provider should have. Attendees approach a kiosk, laptop or iPad and type their name; the badge prints out along with a personalized agenda on the back. What’s more, the experience is enhanced by recommending relevant sessions or exhibitors attendees can visit that day, based on registration data.
The next iteration of check-in that can take the experience to the next level is facial recognition based on a photo provided during online registration. The check-in unit will recognize you, say hello and state your name; then your badge and agenda print out. While a photo is optional, most people understand from experiences using Facebook, Google and Amazon, that they get a better user experience if they provide some information.
Wearables, Robots & the Smart City
Wearables like the LOOPD Smart Badge can seamlessly recreate a check-in experience for attendees each day they attend the event. When an attendee returns, the passive Bluetooth system on site reads the badge and alerts them to certain events and booths they might be interested in that day. The host organization also gets to see how many times each attendee came back, which is a huge metric that groups want to measure.
One of the most interesting ideas in development is the use of mobile robots to conduct check-in, even away from the event site. Attendees download an event app ahead of the show so they can message when they are ready to check in. Then a self-assisting robot with facial recognition capability can travel to where the person is in the meeting venue, hotel or even in the airport, to provide a badge and other materials.
Close to fruition in some places is the “smart city” concept, which enables event check-in through public kiosks at transportation hubs. Attendees can obtain their event badge, which can also act as a public-transportation card and as a food and beverage card accepted by certain shops and vendors. Las Vegas does this now—attendees can check in right after getting off the plane, and use their badge to board mass transit and get to their hotel. As other cities connect their various information and communication systems and allow event planners to tap in as well, this option will become more widespread.
The way that you welcome your attendee can be the difference between a satisfied visitor and one that was looking for something more. While easing into 2018, consider using some of these innovative ways to enhance your first impression at events. While kiosks and wearables have become standard at many events, consider finding ways to kick it up a notch with some more emerging innovations in onsite check-in.
Find out even more about the onsite experience and what else is in store for 2018 event trends by joining our webinar with Smart Meetings.
Written by: Shane Edmonds