event check-in tips for better conference registration

A few years ago, I went to a conference that was being hosted in Hong Kong. I was able to score tickets through work so that I could listen in on all of the different meetings and talks that would occur in this half-day event. This event ended up being one of the more memorable events I’ve been to. Not because it was good though, but because the event check-in process was abysmal.

Let’s start off with some background info: personally, I love going to events like conferences and conventions.

You get to meet all sorts of people, listen to others who are more knowledgeable than you, and learn about new products and/or techniques in various industries. I was stoked. I also couldn’t wait to receive all of the event swag that would be present.

Fast forward to the day of the conference, and I’m hanging out near the lobby of the convention center, looking for where to sign in.

And I kept looking for 30 minutes.

No, you can’t chalk it down to my own idiocy. I asked a few security guards at the venue and they had no idea where it was either. 20 minutes into my search for the lobby, I developed a small group of like-minded individuals who were all hell-bent on finding the check-in location. There were at least 6 of us and we were all scurrying around, trying to figure out how to get our badge.

Turns out that you had to go up two floors, walk through a long corridor, and open up a door that had no signs and looked exactly the same as all of the other doors in the area. I was floored. I went inside and waited as they looked for my badge. The badges weren’t ordered though, they were splayed out on a big table behind the “welcome” desk. It was hard to believe that this conference was legit. I wish I had pictures to show everyone though.

This was my first experience with an event where the check-in process felt unprofessional to me. It was unplanned, messy, and frankly, it was embarrassing.

Nobody likes waiting in a long line

event check-in tips - minimize waiting in long lines

There are no good reasons why you wouldn’t properly set up a smooth event check-in process for your guests. Oftentimes, this will be the first face-to-face that your guests have with the event and your team. This is where first impressions matter the most.

You want to be seen as an efficient, well-oiled machine.

The check-in process should be quick, painless, and easy to understand. It should take as much thinking away from the guests so that they can focus on what they want to think about: the event.

With that being said, here are some event check-in tips you can use to ensure a smooth event registration process for your next conference!

1. Create a detailed flowchart of what check-in will look like

Everybody should start things off with a plan. A good way of making sure that your event check-in goes smoothly is to create a detailed flowchart of what your check-in is going to look like. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a flowchart, but you want to plot out all of the steps that your guests will go through when proceeding with the registration process.

  • Where will your guests be entering from?
  • How many people do you have at the check-in table?
  • Will you be doing it manually or with an app?
  • How much space will you allocate for the line-up queue?
  • What’s the process for guests to re-enter the venue?

We would highly consider using event technology to streamline your check-in process. For example, using Picatic’s check-in app will allow you to scan your guests’ QR codes for an easy and hassle-free check-in. Other companies like Zenus have also created a facial recognition software for event check-in. There’s really no reason why you should have to register your guests by hand at the door.

2. Work with the venue and your team to lock everything down

Once you have your detailed outline about what your event check-in flow is going to look like, now you can work with your team and the venue to get everything settled. (It’s much easier to work with your venue if they’re a trusted vendor you’ve worked with in the past.)

This can include things that ranges from emergency procedures to what swag to give out at check-in. The goal is to ensure you account for as much of the process as possible. Start with establishing all of the requirements that the venue has in terms of safety procedures. Then you can figure out how to train your staff to handle your guests as they register for the event.

Give yourself time to train your team and staff. If you’re going through an event staffing company, it would be smart to start training your team an hour or two in advance. This gives them a chance to ask any questions about the registration process before your guests start to arrive.

If you’re using a check-in app, make sure your staff knows how to use it. They should be able to troubleshoot any problems that arises as well, which means they should have some time to practice with your apps.

3. Inform guests of the check-in process before the event

A great way of preparing your guests is to make sure they know what to expect when they arrive at your event venue. Where is the entrance for the venue? Which line should they queue in? Do they need to prepare a ticket or QR code at the door? Is there anything they’re supposed to bring (or not allowed to bring)?

The more information you can give to your guests, the better. It would also be good to include a phone number that guests can call if they need assistance. Being more transparent about your event and the check-in process will definitely help make things more efficient when the day of the event arrives.

4. Create clear signage for the venue

Event Check-in Tips for Better Conference Registration

Now that you have your check-in planned out, it’s time to make some signs. It doesn’t matter what format you choose, whether it’s printed signs or digital signs on TVs. The main thing is to make sure that guests have clear visual cues for where to go when they arrive at your event.

This is also a great branding opportunity for you to display logos, names, features, etc. You want to make sure that these signs are visible at high-traffic areas. We suggest creating large signs that features bold, bright letters (as long as it fits with your branding).

5. Test mobile/WiFi signal at your venue

The last thing you want is a long line to form because somebody had to load up their ticket, but couldn’t due to bad signal.

Make sure you test out the mobile signal at your venue within the check-in areas. If you’re using a digital scanner, you’ll probably have people fumbling with their phones trying to find their QR codes. Ensure this process is easy so that the line keeps moving.

If your venue has poor mobile signal, it might be a good idea to see if you can offer free WiFi for guests to use in that area. It’s also a good perk for guests to have. With WiFi access readily available, it’ll open up opportunities for your guests to talk about your event.

6. Prepare the assembly line

Make sure your assembly line is prepped and ready for event day. Assign your team to different stations, such as check-in, badge distribution, swag prep, and general help.

Since you have an area designated for your check-in, your team members should know where they need to be during the event and how they should prepare their stations. For example, the person in charge of checking guests in through the mobile app should understand how the app works and what they should do if the person doesn’t have their QR code with them. Another example is how your team should prepare the badges to access them as soon as possible.

7. Be ready to put out fires

Events are messy affairs, even with a ton of proper planning. To have a smooth check-in process, you have to be ready for any problem that arises.

As the organizer of the event, you’ll be the go-to person when things start to fall apart. Having a dedicated team to act as a help desk is a great way of delegating customer issues to your team members.

Have an area set aside in your venue for customers to go to if they have questions and concerns about the event. That’ll leave you open to tend to more event-threatening matters!


A smooth check-in process is the first step to a great event. As an event organizer, are there any other event check-in tips that you’ve used to prepare for a great registration experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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