5 Tips to Improve Your Event Check-In Time

February 08 2018

Long lines at check-in are a total pain.

They’re annoying for the attendee, embarrassing for the event maker, and a drag for exhibitors who are waiting for the foot traffic they paid for to reach their booths. Worst of all, long lines are the first impression your attendees get of your event- that impression being bad planning. So what should you, as an event maker, do to ensure this doesn’t happen at your event?

Here are 5 tips to improve your event check-in time: 

1) Display appropriate signage.

I can’t think of anything else that can streamline your attendees’ gate experience more, and all it takes is a few stanchions and two signs:

1. Bought tickets online? Check-in here.

Please have ticket ready

2. Need tickets? Buy here.

Please have cash/credit payment ready

This way, attendees know exactly where to go and exactly what to do. We’ve seen events where attendees have a ticket ready on their phones but are standing in the ticket purchase line because it was the first line they saw, and there was no signage to inform them otherwise. Would you want to be that attendee when they get to the gate and are told to go to the back of a different line? There is absolutely no reason this should happen.

2) Provide adequate and helpful staff.

It can be tough to staff the gate because first there is no way to really truly know the number of staff you’ll need and second that need will fluctuate dramatically over the duration of the event. However, I have a general rule for you: the more you overestimate, the shorter your lines will be. If at any point you have more than enough staff at the gate, you can always invite extras into the event for the rest of their shift once the swell has died down. Additionally, making sure the staff have been briefed on checking in attendees, and where to direct those with any odd customer service questions will ensure a smooth experience for everybody.

3) Plan for customer service.

Will each of your gate staff know how to handle the following situations? 

“I bought my ticket last week but don’t have the confirmation email- can you look me up?”

“My friend bought my ticket and just told me to give his name to check in.”

“I bought two GA tickets but want to upgrade one of them to VIP.”
“I want a refund because my friend can’t come anymore.”

“I bought a Friday ticket but want to change it to a Saturday ticket.”

“I dropped my drivers license, has it been returned anywhere?”

If you're not sure that they can then make sure to set up a customer service booth where attendees can get their questions answered. You could even have a sign for ‘Customer Service’ so you don’t make attendees with these questions lengthen the lines for everyone else.

4) Emphasize presales.

Checking in a ticket takes a fraction of the time of a ticket purchase. The more presold attendees you can get at your gate, the quicker everything will go for everyone.

5) Enable staff to roam.

Equip several staff with a ticket scanning device and an apron loaded with wristbands (if necessary), and set them loose. Attendees will appreciate being approached by a friendly staff member- or should I say concierge. I’ve even seen events that only have one gate/counter which is solely for wristbanding attendees that have been checked in by roaming staff. Can you imagine being approached by a friendly person that scans your your ticket, hands you a food coupon, and answers any questions you might have, and invites you to pick up your wristband over at the wristband counter? It’s a great experience for the attendee, which means a successful event for everyone!