We all know first impressions are important, and while you’ve probably already had a number of virtual interactions with event attendees as they perused your event lineup, got signed up to attend, and perhaps even participated in crowd sourcing efforts like helping to select topics or speakers, you should assume that event registration is really the first time attendees will interact with your brand live.
Naturally, there are certain standard elements you’ll need at the registration area, such as a clearly delineated queue, a desk area for check-in, and a polite, knowledgeable, and accommodating staff. However, you and your event management firm should also take the time to strategize innovative ways to wow attendees with the speed and convenience of check-in, as well as the aesthetic appeal of your presentation.
Says Chelsea Litos, VP Account Management at AMI, “Everyone is excited when they first show up at an event, and then they have to stand idle in the registration line, growing more bored and frustrated by the minute. Finding innovative ways to shorten the wait time and entertain and engage attendees in the meantime is essential to preserving a positive experience and setting the tone for the entire event.”
How can you and your event company work to speed the process of event registration while still giving every guest a warm welcome and a positive first experience with your brand? Here are a few innovative ways to meet your myriad goals for the check-in experience.
You want people to know they’re in the right place, which is why it’s so important to incorporate branded materials into every aspect of your event, starting with the registration area and any badges, information packets, and other items you supply. Utilizing visual cues can help to set the tone of your event from the moment attendees walk in the door and enter the registration queue, so work with your event company to seamlessly blend your own company branding and event branding throughout the event in creative and attractive ways.
There’s nothing worse than choosing the shortest line only to have every line around you move faster. If you want to keep your registration process efficient and fair and avoid typical attendee frustrations, simply create a single line (that winds through a roped queue, if necessary), and funnel guests to the next available staff member when they reach the front of the line.
This will keep the registration queue moving in an orderly manner and eliminate at least one of the most common frustrations of standing in line. Make sure you have enough roped area to accommodate a large crowd, have someone monitor the line and adjust ropes for the size of the queue, and add ample signage to ensure that no one is confused about where to go or which end of the line to enter.
If people are going to have to wait in line to register, you might as well keep them comfortable and entertained in the meantime, and this means setting up a creative welcome area. Think about the long lines at theme parks, for example. They know people going on rides might have to wait for an hour or more to get on a five-minute (or less) ride, and they’re going to get antsy in the meantime.
This is why the long queues for these rides feature entertainment along the way. Theme parks utilize elaborate sets, animatronic characters, park staffers playing ride-themed roles, pre-recorded videos with characters and actors, and interactive displays with buttons to push and switches to toggle as guests go by. All of this makes for a more immersive experience and helps to keep guests entertained and engaged while they wait.
How can you create welcome areas that fit your event and your company branding? Experienced event management professionals can help you to come up with innovative ideas that are perfectly suited to your needs and that are sure to resonate with your audience.
If you want to create an eye-popping, selfie-inducing display that gets attendees in the right mood going into your event, there are a number of options to consider. For example, you could create a custom mural in keeping with the theme of your event, or add backlit displays for a more modern feel. You could also create an elaborate, themed display with larger-than-life backdrops and props.
One good example of this aesthetic at play is E3, the Electronics Entertainment Expo held annually in Los Angeles. Video game companies go above and beyond to create enormous displays that transport attendees to another world, all inside a convention hall. However, there’s always an entrance display, starting with a massive, themed mural broken up and inset on the main staircase.
If you want to get creative with your layout to enhance the check-in process for guests, consider creating a walkthrough area for attendees instead of processing them at a single table. For example, guests could start with a meet-and-greet check-in desk, then move along to a badge station, and then to an area to pick up itineraries and goodie bags before moving into the event.
Speed and convenience are just as important in the registration process as providing an awe-inducing display, and the best way to ensure a streamlined process is to provide your registration staff with the technologies needed to make the process easy. Speak to your event company about ways to integrate tablets and intuitive software that allows your staff to quickly and efficiently process attendees.
While you don’t necessarily want to de-personalize the registration process, you can take a modern approach by adding kiosks for self-check-in, complete with attendants on hand to help as needed. This can help you to avoid long and frustrating lines and significantly speed registration.
Experienced event management companies like American Meetings, Inc. (AMI) can help you to decide on the technologies that will best suit your event and appeal to attendees. If you’re dealing with a tech-savvy crowd, consider creating an app that allows attendees to register remotely, access packet materials virtually, and even flash a virtual badge on their smartphone or tablet instead of carrying a physical badge.