The Event Check-In Process: Getting to the Good Stuff as Quickly as Possible


We have forgotten how to wait. I know I sure have. If there are three people in front of me at a grocery store, I seriously start to consider just how much I want that food.  

Lines are going to happen at your event, and it’s a great sign that so many people want to attend. However, for your sake and theirs, you don’t want to leave folks standing around idle for too long. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate long waits and make sure the check-in process flows smoothly.

Start Before the Event Begins – with an Email 

The beginning of any event can be a hectic time for an attendee – unless you make the process an easy one. The last thing you want is for the start of your event to feel like someone’s first day in middle school with them lost and wandering the halls.

One way to keep this from occurring is to send an introductory email that contains all the info someone needs to check-in. Let them know where to enter (attach a map if possible or a link to downloadable one), what they need to bring, and if any items are prohibited. If there will be security at the doors, let attendees know the procedures and which items will need to be searched.  

 This email should also contain a link to download the event’s app. This can help accelerate the procedure – especially if a QR code within the app will be used in the check-in process.

Be Thoughtful with Pedestrian Traffic Flow

Intuitiveness is the name of the game. When someone is on site at an event, the layout should feel natural. This begins with the check-in process.


 Every station should flow naturally to the next. When the flow of traffic is intuitive and areas are evenly spaced, you should be able to avoid long lines and irritated attendees. If you are in a large, open area where attendees could easily make a wrong turn, be sure to have plenty of signage to make it impossible for people to get lost. Also, have plenty of staff on hand to answer questions, provide directions, and even lead people step-by-step through the check-in process, if necessary.

Never Let Them Forget Where They Are

The fun begins the second attendees arrive on site. Since you have gone to all the hard work to ensure a smooth check-in process, make sure that attendees recognize the effort as part of your event by having your branding front and center. Floor staff should be in “uniform” with matching, branded tops, all check-in areas should have identifying signage, and all check-in touchpoints (kiosks, tablets, etc.) need to be branded either on-screen, on the device, or both. The intent is to make a positive and lasting impression that attendees will carry on throughout the event.

 Incorporate Your Event Management Software

 Retro has its place in this world, and an analog experience can bring fun, nostalgic experiences to an event. However, that is not the impression you want your guests to experience as they are waiting to check-in. Watching from the back of a line as staffers shuffle through stacks of papers trying to ensure that their information matches with the person standing in front of them is infuriating. It creates the wrong first impression of your event and one that is likely to last the duration of the expo. 

Instead, arm your staff with tablets that enable attendees to register with the device quickly. You can also incorporate your event management software with this check-in platform. This integration can help to ensure that the check-in process is smooth for your guests. While some event management solutions will offer check-in capabilities, these may not be as robust as you need. It is typically preferable to utilize dedicated check-in software, which can appreciably strengthen your on-site check-in capabilities.

Additionally, this combination unlocks more possibilities to streamline your guests’ experience. For example, it is now possible to gauge attendee interest in real time by having a staffer check-in attendees at every session they attend. You could even make it possible for attendees to utilize your event app to check-in to sessions themselves. It will immediately let you know how many people are visiting sessions compared to how many originally signed up. This information will undoubtedly be useful for future events as you determine which sessions to hold, and it may even be helpful at this event by helping you massage content for the next few days.

Utilize Self-Check-In Kiosks

For the most part, air travel has not gotten any easier, and travelers can still expect plenty of waiting in lines. However, one area that has been vastly improved is the check-in process with the airline. What was once the first of many long lines to come has been streamlined largely due to self-check-in kiosks.  


Kiosks will not eliminate staff check-ins entirely. Some people will always prefer speaking to a person. Since customer service is essential, you will want to provide this option. Plus, you should have an employee near the kiosks should anyone encounter trouble using the machines (which happens, no matter how intuitive the self-check-in process is).  Still, the kiosks are affordable, will cut lines down to almost nothing, and can give attendees the immediate impression that your event is efficient and modern.

Ensure that Your Staff is Knowledgeable and Positive

 We’ve all been greeted by sullen and off-putting “customer service” representatives. It ruins the experience from the start. While is it impossible for people to be in a good mood all the time – and long days on the show floor can put a dampener on anyone’s peppy demeanor – your event staff is the extension of your brand. It is imperative that they present a positive and professional appearance at all times.

 This is especially true during check-in when attendees just want to get through the process and get to the good stuff. Any delays can lead to frustrated guests, and that’s when your staff needs to step in immediately, try to soothe any frazzled emotions, and solve all problems.


 The tone set by your check-in staff is the one that will last for your attendees. It is imperative that your check-in staff understands the importance of their roles. It may even require extra interviewing and training to find the right staff and get these members ready. Make sure that the check-in staff understands they are the ambassadors of the event and your brand, and the energy they bring will create a lasting impression.

Understand the Value of the Check-In Data

 The information you acquire at check-in isn’t merely a tally of who walked through the doors, it’s an overview of your entire event. It helps to complete the picture of your event’s demographics, which will help you plan for all future events. Formulating a complete event strategy requires thoughtful utilization of this data. Fortunately, by integrating your check-in software with your event management solutions, you should already have this data in a format where it is actionable and ready to use.  It is imperative to set the correct tone for your event immediately.