Best Practices for Event Check-In: Tips for Success

We’ve heard it before, first impressions matter. But what does that mean for event planners? According to Forbes, you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. That’s it. In less than 10 seconds, your attendees have formed an opinion of your event. Where are attendees most likely to spend their first seven seconds at an event? The answer for most will be at your event check-in desk. They haven’t had a chance to experience the content, connections, and experiences you have designed for them, yet they are already forming an opinion of your event. 

How you check in your attendees matters.

Imagine you arrive at an event with no clear check-in signage, disengaged staff hidden behind a desk, and a long lineup that doesn’t appear to be moving.

If the check-in process is clunky and chaotic, it will negatively impact the overall attendee experience and detract from the main event.

In this article, we’ll explain what tactics and event technology you can use to you can offer your guests a smooth check-in experience designed to minimize their time spent in line.

Cast yourself in the role of your guests at event check-in

When designing your event, it is essential to step out of the organizer role and put yourself in your attendees’ shoes. Imagine where they might travel from, how they will arrive at your event, and what that first interaction with your event will be. This mental exercise is foundational to creating a great attendee experience. It allows you to identify things that may feel obvious, but can easily be overlooked in the event design process. 

event check-in

For example, an attendee during winter is likely to arrive with many more layers than they would in warmer summer months. Consider how they would feel approaching a registration desk, where they receive a pass, swag bag, and welcome drink to juggle along with their other belongings. An event planner in this situation may decide to create comfort for guests by having a coat check facility ahead of the registration desk. Alternatively, they may decide to set up a conference program and swag bag collection point after the badge pick-up and coat check. These minor tweaks and considerations can significantly affect how your attendees feel entering your event.

How you greet attendees at registration is also essential and often overlooked. Consider standing to greet attendees instead of sitting behind the registration desk, creating a feeling of being welcomed into someone’s home.

Avoid long lineups at event check-in

Over 20% of visitors mentioned line-up times as their primary frustration when attending events (UFI, 2019). You may not be able to eliminate lines altogether, but with careful planning, you can reduce the pain. One way to do this is by offering a variety of ticket types:

“Recently, I organized an event with over 1,000 guests, and I wanted to build in contingencies to get eliminate long lines at the check-in desks. To do this, I staggered guest arrivals based on ticket types. First, we welcomed VVIPs, who were incentivized to come early with a free breakfast program including a keynote speaker to kick off the day. Next, we welcomed VIPs with access to an exclusive lounge with pre-event networking opportunities. After VIPs, general ticket holders were invited in. Later on, we had a specific entry time for after-lunch ticket holders attending afternoon-only workshops and keynote sessions.”

– Lori D’Agostino, President, Momento Events.

If alternative ticket types don’t work for your event, you can also ease the burden on the registration desk by having a welcome party the evening before your main event. Invite guests to start networking at your pre-event welcome party, and use this as an opportunity to check them in early. 

If long lines are unavoidable for your event, consider how you can keep guests entertained while they wait. For example, at Comic-Con, organizers use this time to create an experience for their guests. Cosplay characters interact with guests waiting in line to keep them entertained and create unique, shareable moments ahead of the event. Take the entertainment out of the event hall or conference room and into the arrival area. Delight your guests by having a live string quartet play while your team (or sponsors) provide a welcome drink as they wait. Think about what makes sense for your event and what your attendees would most appreciate.

Pick the right event check-in app

The technology you use has a significant impact on the pace of your event check-in process. Spreadsheets and printed lists are time-consuming and can lead to long lines as registration staff does their best to locate names. One of the keys to avoiding long lineups is picking the right event check-in app. Event check-in apps are the perfect partner for any planner who wants to create an effortless check-in experience. 

Using an event check-in app allows you to streamline your registration and check-in process by:

  1. eliminating the need for printed spreadsheets
  2. keeping the check-in desk free of laptops and clunky scanning hardware
  3. making it easy to capture attendee and event data

Eventmobi’s event management software solution includes a lightning-fast check-in app that makes it easy to create the right guest arrivals experience. Event staff can use the app on any mobile device and scan attendees into your event by pointing the in-app camera at the QR code in their mobile event app profile or printed on their physical badge.


An attendee’s first impression of your event will likely be formed during their check-in experience. When long lines are inevitable, consider how you can keep them entertained and excited. Think about the event technology you can use to create an efficient, seamless check-in experience. Look for an event check-in app that will help speed up the process to ensure your attendees have the right experience the moment they walk through your venue doors. 

Ready to create the right first impression at your next event? 📛
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