EN editor Saul Leese takes a close look at how registration companies are adapting to social distancing measures to help organisers bring back exhibitions.
Finding the right registration company is challenging for any exhibition organiser at the best of times.
Marketers have numerous requirements of these systems to help them to not only track attendance figures but also keep an eye on the quality of attendees too. They also need to be able to understand how many people are engaging with their show exhibitors and interacting with a myriad of features and content on the show floor.
Marketers are obsessed with ensuring the visitor experience is a good one, and with distancing measures likely to be around for the foreseeable future, registration companies play a key role in ensuring that visitors enter events in a safe and timely fashion.
Operations teams also need to be able to distinguish between certain types of people on the premises at any one time, and also be able to give an accurate figure of the people inside the venue should the need require it.
I asked a handful of registration companies if their models can work under these new guidelines and if they have enhanced their systems in any way in light of social distancing measures.
Ticketing company See Tickets has developed Contactless Access Control technology to provide event organisers with a safe way to manage entry.
See Tickets, whose clients include SJM Concerts, Glastonbury Festival, Houses of Parliament, Raymond Gubbay and Media 10, said that their tool uses a standalone scanning point which requires no contact from staff or visitors, and users can then view these results from a distance, ‘ensuring safe and secure event entry’.
Rob Wilmshurst, global CEO, See Tickets said: “Like our clients, See Tickets is adapting to the challenges in the market and looking at safe ways to operate going forward. We’re already well equipped to build features like time-slot entry to limit event capacity and our ‘zero contact’ access control solution will complement this.”
Wilmshurst explained that the new functionality will be based on See Tickets’ on-site technology and is fully integrated into its back-office systems, tools, and reporting capabilities.
In addition, smaller venues and organisers will be able to use the new feature with an upgrade to the existing Access Control App so that they can increase the range from which their device can scan tickets.
One of the UK’s more established registration companies, GES, is experimenting with a range of new additions to their existing software including the use of QR codes to minimise visitor contact.
Matt Coyne, group commercial director, GES said: “GES have created a suite of physical distancing initiatives to supportour customers onsite experiences. The Visit by GES onsite experience enables for little or very low physical interaction.
Through the Visit Eventbox self-service terminals, both badge collection and new registrations can be operated autonomously by event participants, or organisers can choose to go badgeless.
“Self-scanning pods and turnstiles which scan badges with real-time reporting can be installed at events to enable access control while further reducing physical interaction between people onsite. Onsite registration can be achieved via a simple scan of events specific registration QR code, on the way to the venue, to launch registration pages on the visitor’s mobile device. Badges can then be collected if required or they share their digital badge to gain entry to the event.”
Coyne explained that GES’s software will help organisers keep track of the total number of attendees inside the venue, making it easier for organisers to adhere to, the potential restrictions of visitors permitted to attend an event at any one time.
Using digital badges
Coyne believes that the need for printing badges could be avoided if visitors choose to use a digital badge and skip using terminals all together.
He added: “We believe we will see a revolution in badges at events or rather lack of the physical badge. E-badges are likely to be mandated further, however we are introducing a digital badge so that attendees no longer need to print badges at an event, and therefore reduce physical interaction at onsite registration points.”
LiveBuzz, who were the registration partner at International Confex 2020, has introduced an ‘airport style’ approach to their software which can send reminders when visitors are approaching their allotted time at an exhibition.
Emma Eveleigh, director, LiveBuzz, said: “Organisers can plan the online preregistration campaign and at two weeks out, the registration provider can launch an airport style check-in process. This online visitor check-in will allow us to plan resources and systems to safely manage the expected numbers within the venue and help us to plan badging options. A text and email invite can be sent to visitors to log back into their registration or booking profile and choose entrance time slots limited with capacity settings.
“On site, real-time and contactless scanning of a visitor at the entrance, will trigger the acceptance or decline to proceed into the venue. This will be based on the actual numbers of people in the hall. We’ll also have an exit strategy where we can text visitors a reminder, if they are still within the halls, and approaching their allotted exit time. This can be adapted to visitors to stay over their allotted time if the venue capacity has not been reached.”
Facial recognition LiveBuzz registration software can also use facial recognition to print a badge reducing the visitors need to type their details into terminals.
Eveleigh explained that their software has been designed to work without onsite WiFi providing the visitor has downloaded their App.
“Organisers can also choose to run a ‘smart event’ with digital badges, and smart devices located within the venue, and on stands. The new, smart technology does not rely on venue or telecom infrastructure but communicates via Bluetooth.”
Circdata offers a range of options including printing physical badges as well as electronic or digital badges to reduce visitor contact.
Chris Clipston, MD, Circdata explained that after registering for an event, visitors can save their badges in Apple Wallet or Google Pay, and they can use a QR code or barcode at the main entrance.
“During an event, physical controls can be used to manage people flow, reduce interaction, reduce potential virus transmission and promote social distancing.
Our onsite team will be able to offer a range of measures including socially distant registration terminals, distance managed queueing, hygienic, post-event badge disposal, safety screens for manned registration terminals, and event staff with the appropriate PPE.”
“This also offers a compelling reason for exhibitors and sponsors to maintain their investment in the event. Virtual booths can be as effective as physical ones for lead capture and future business. We have developed our hybrid and virtual offering
within our Fusion suite to support our clients weather the storm.”
Circdata uses a similar method to regulate the number of people turning up at an exhibition. Potential visitors will be given slots can and notified by email, SMS or push notification to the Circdata Fusion App ensuring that organisers are able to monitor the number of visitors either turning up or inside the event.
Registration company Reftech wants to avoid smartscan hand LiveBuzz Scanner See Tickets queues by asking visitors to print their badges before turning up.
Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer, RefTech, said: “We have all seen how long the socially distanced queues at supermarkets are, so minimising queuing will be critical at most venues. Frequent communication with the visitor is key to this. Before the show, organisers need to ensure that all potential visitors have pre-registered and printed their badges out at home wherever possible. If there are visitors who haven’t pre-registered, then they should be encouraged to register online outside the venue using their smartphone before entering to collect their badge.
“Our software EventRefrence helps organisers to communicate to visitors via text, email, or through the mobile App. If the registration area gets too busy, organisers can quickly send a personalised text to all pre-reg visitors who haven’t yet arrived to ask them to ‘take their time’ and maybe delay their arrival by an hour.”
“Our programme alsofeatures a Diary System, as used by IMEX for their hosted buyer programme, which could be used by organisers to create an appointment system between exhibitors and visitors to help to control visitors within the hall.”
Timed visitor entry coupled with regular communication via emails, push notifications and SMS will help to ensure that the right number of visitors turn up to an exhibition.
Entry systems such as facial recognition or badgeless entry using barcodes and QR codes on smartphones, can drastically reduce visitor interaction at terminals or needing additional help from onsite staff. Improved registration systems that are sympathetic to social distancing measures play a key part in restoring visitor confidence.