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 has been part of etouches’ offerings for some time now. 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 etouches will soon offer 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.
Etouches uses its own product offering—the LOOPD Smart Badge—to 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.
Another development in the works is the use of mobile robots to conduct check-in, even away from the event site. Attendees download our 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.
One other possibility that’s 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.
Shane Edmonds is Chief Technology Officer at etouches.
Smart Meetings partnered with etouches to write Event Technology Trends: The Significant Seven, a tool for navigating the innovations that are transforming meetings in 2018. You can download the whitepaper here and access the webinar with Content Chief JT Long here.