Onsite Check-In & Badging
In our "Best-In-Class" blog series we discuss an Association Management System feature that is. . . well. . . the best in their class of features that AMSs provide (in The AMS Guy’s opinion, of course!) We will showcase a different feature that stands above the rest in each post and give a synopsis of why. In thes post we discuss the Best in Class: Onsite Check-In & Badging.
Next to the member database and accounting, event management is perhaps the most common feature that is included on an AMS platform. Event modules generally let you establish an event, post an event description, allow people to register and pay (if there is a cost), and provide you a roster of registrants. The standard event module is very good at pre-event management, but some vendors have built a system that also helps you manage your onsite registration process as well. They provide you with a myriad of onsite check-in and badging functionality that makes their event module Best in Class. Let's discuss a few of these features.
Because of this nagging thing called "Life", not everyone who registers for your event will be able to actually attend. "Checking in", from a technology standpoint, is the important step of the event registration process that allows you to distinquish between who actually attends your meeting and who doesn't, by markng the individuals that do in your database. It also creates that initial touch-point where you can provide attendees with the materials they need to successfully navigate your event. Great AMS platforms have an "onsite mode" in their event module which allows you to replicate the check-in process across multiple systems and effectively move individuals through your onsite registration process.
Another function that Best in Class event modules have is. . .
Self check-in can be an amazing time savor in the onsite registration process, especially for extremely large events. It allows individuals with no additional registration needs to easily complete the check-in process and not clog up the lines to your registration staff. This check-in process can then be replicated across multiple kiosks and spread out across the registration area, different rooms, or even multiple hotels to meet your patrons where they are.
If you've ever worked an onsite registration process, then you know that the "name of the game" is speed. Essentially, how fast can you get people into your registration hall, checked-in, and moved out to enjoy the event. Any tool that allows you to speed up that process is a bonus! Multi-person check-in is one such feature. Simply, this function allows you to check in more than one person at a time and will save your staff an enormous amount of time and energy, especially with large groups.
Great AMSs who provide a check-in process also does your. . .
A badge is the key material used to determine who gets access to your event. If your AMS has a onsite check-in process, then it should definitely also have a "badging" process for continuity's sake. On the surface, it can automatically produce the badge for the individual(s) being checked in , and in the background, it can dismiss any issues that will arise from having to jump to another system to produce a badge.
If your system is going to produce your badge, then it should also come with. . .
Not all of events will require the same materials and information. Vendors that let associations design their badges give them the freedom to create what is needed for every event. For example, your smaller workshops may simply need attendee and event name on the badge, while your annual conference may also need session tickets printed up. Or maybe you need to use colors or large symbols at one of your events to easily distinguish between different types of registrants. A robust event module will allow you to design different badges for each registrant type.
On-Demand Badge Printing
Many organizations like to pre-print their badges, and for some events, this makes sense. However, having worked association events ranging in size from 100-10,000 registrants, there is a threshold where pre-printing badges becomes utter chaos (300 is my max). When this threshold is exceeded, on-demand badge printing is the solution of choice. In my experience, the most efficient and effective way to produce a badge is on-demand. No wasted materials producing badges for individuals who ultimately don't show up, and no extra time lost searching for a badge in your sea of badges. In the ideal system, once a person is checked in (via self check-in or by a registration staffperson), then out pops their badge!
What makes onsite check-in a badging being built into your AMS so powerful are the issues it eliminates over the alternative - outsourcing to a 3rd party. You don't have to find, manage, and pay for a 3rd party system. You won't suffer the problems with decentralized data. Your onsite payments and transactions can remain in the same system. Just getting rid of these 3rd-party woes makes this a Best In Class feature!