Conference planning: Checklist for the Conference Check-in

1. What is important when designing the check-in area at a conference?

🛫 If the conference gets off to a good start, this could be due to a check-in area that has nothing to complain about. Conference organizers who make the right preliminary considerations and leave neither counter opening times nor directions to chance will make a positive impression.

Does the number of counters match the size of the conference?

Just one manned counter is rarely enough for a conference. Most participants will probably arrive on the first day and possibly even shortly after each other or at the same time. It is therefore important not to keep anyone waiting for long and not to overwhelm the staff. Allow approximately one minute per person to check in. For 1,000 participants, you should therefore plan for around ten counters.

✅ Are the counters organized according to their function?

When dividing up the conference counters, it is best to use airports and their counters as a guide. Instead of dividing the counters by airline, divide them by function. For example, in addition to standard check-in counters, there may also be counters specifically for new registrations on site or VIP guests. As soon as you know what the list of participants looks like, it is also worth assigning letter groups to all check-in counters so that roughly the same number of people check in at each counter.

✅ Can everyone find their way?

If only a handful of people arrive at the counters while the rest get lost, it could be because the others got lost on the way. Very few people are on familiar ground when they arrive on site. Help them find their way and put-up signposts and information boards. Make sure that all signs are clearly visible and are not covered by plants or objects.

✅ Is it clear when which counters are manned?

Just because there are many counters at a conference does not necessarily mean that they are manned around the clock. Above all, it is important that no counter is closed during the busiest periods. As soon as these are over, it is fine if only one section remains open as an information desk where staff can help with questions of all kinds.

✅ Do visitors know about this?

The best planning is useless if nobody knows about it. Use the conference website or the conference app to provide information about how check-in will work. Also indicate the times at which check-in is possible.

✅ Are all the materials ready?

Have everything ready in good time that you want to hand out to participants at check-in. Check that the conference folders are complete. Are all name badges available? Also make sure that badges are not mixed up. This creates unnecessary work later on and will lead to at least two people having problems checking in.

2. What do the service staff need to know?

🧚All-knowing employees are certainly not the worst resource, but you can also go one size smaller. Staff who are well prepared for all eventualities prove to be an excellent remedy for stress and unanswered questions during the check-in process. A good briefing pays off here in particular.

✅ Have you prepared your staff for the tasks ahead?

There is no substitute for good preparation. For some of your employees, this may even be the first conference they are attending. Having experienced colleagues at their side can’t hurt, but in-depth training is even better. This gives everyone time to familiarize themselves with the technology and software used. Are there any typical pitfalls that occurred the year before and should not be repeated? Address these during the training.

✅ Is the staff able to behave appropriately towards the participants?

In addition to a friendly demeanor, your staff should also be able to remain calm in stressful situations. There is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer to a question as long as it is clear who can help instead. For international conferences, it would also be relevant for staff to be able to provide information in more than one language.

✅ Who is on the staff?

The staff probably know and recognize each other. However, it is at least as important that all conference participants know who they can contact. Decide in advance what will make your staff stand out from the crowd. This could be uniforms or simply T-shirts in the color of your conference.

✅ How do you communicate changes to the process?

Unplanned changes are rarely a reason to be happy, but are often unavoidable. It’s less of a problem if everyone knows immediately and can adapt to it. Make sure that everyone has the telephone numbers of the others in the team to hand. It’s even better to use internal communication channels such as Slack, which everyone can access at any time thanks to an app.

3. What needs to be considered when printing the name badges?

🖨️ Once the badges have been designed, they can be printed. To ensure that everyone receives their correct name badge when they check in later, quickly clarify a few organizational questions beforehand.

✅ Is there a schedule for printing?

You need to make a decision about printing: Should all badges be ready before the conference starts or should they only come out of the printer on site? Perhaps you are still accepting registrations on site and therefore prefer a combination of both options. In the case of pre-printing, this should be organized in such a way that the finished copies are ready for you at least two days before the start.

✅ How much time does it take to get the finished badge?

The main issue here is how to get the information onto the badges. Surely nobody wants to laboriously transfer several thousand names from the list with the names of all participants to each badge individually. It is easier to transfer the information directly from the participant management software. This is also important if a badge needs to be printed again because it has been lost, for example.

✅ Have you decided how participants will wear their badges?

Stick them on, pin them on or hang them around their neck – there is more than one way to wear the finished name badges. If they are to be worn around the neck, you will also need lanyards and possibly sleeves. Get the materials you need in good time and make sure you have enough of them. Please also think about spare materials!

4. How can a self-service solution be implemented?

▶️ If you want things to go particularly quickly without compromising on quality, self-service check-in could solve many a problem – provided, of course, that you have thought of everything important.

✅ Is all the necessary equipment available?

For the check-in

If participants are to check in themselves, this is only possible if the necessary equipment is available. In addition to the software, displays and scanners are particularly important here. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a complex kiosk solution; you can also use laptops, tablets or monitors instead. You also have to decide between handheld and stand-alone scanners. However, remember that not all barcodes are the same. The codes used on the tickets must be readable by the scanner model.

For badge printing

If you want to complete the check-in process by automatically printing the name badge, consider beforehand whether the badges should be made of paper or plastic and then choose a suitable printer model. If you want multi-colored printouts, you also need to pay attention to the technology of the printer.

✅ Is everything working as planned?

Even better if it stays that way. It is therefore better to plan two to three spare devices in addition to one device per station. To give the entire process a dress rehearsal, we recommend an early check-in on the evening before the first day of the conference. Some of the participants are usually already arriving at this time and should be happy to have such an opportunity. If there are any minor teething problems, there will still be enough time to sort them out by the next day.

✅ Is there help with problems?

Despite all the test runs, there may be people who don’t really trust the self-service and want to make sure they know exactly what to do before scanning the ticket. It is therefore important to never completely dispense with staff so that someone can help.

✅ Is it still possible to register on site?

If your list of participants is not yet full, people can still spontaneously decide to take part and register on site. Please remember to bring card readers for the participation fees. As registration takes a little longer than simply checking in, it is better to set up a separate desk for this.

5. Should there be several conference check-ins?

📅 While check-in at some conferences only takes place once at the start of day one, other events are followed by further check-ins. A daily check-in on all conference days works well if you follow the previous points. If you would also like to record participation in individual program items, the following section of the checklist will help.

✅ Are there any events for which you need to record participants separately?

If a medical association has certified your event as continuing education, this means that participants can collect CME points for their continuing education account. However, these only appear on the account if you have recorded how long a person was present at a lecture or workshop. You therefore have to scan the barcode on the badge once when entering and once when leaving the room. From a technical point of view, this is also possible with a self-service solution, but it is not always recommended. It is easy to forget to scan a badge, so it is better for staff to keep a watchful eye on it. If a person has attended a workshop but forgotten to scan, no CME points will be awarded in the end.

✅ Are certificates of attendance available?

All participating doctors will receive an overview of the CME points they have collected at the conference if their certificate of attendance is available on the last day of the event. Participants can either print this out directly on site in the self-service area or it is available for everyone in paperless form in the personal download area of the conference website.