The Human Element

An average SMW conference receives anywhere from 1200 - 1800 attendees. It's quite a sight to see all those bodies converge on the venue on day 1. I've worked hard and diligently along with my co-workers Brian Leddy and Nathan Lustig in coming up with venue strategies in how to properly receive and process attendees, speakers, sponsors, partners, and staff so that they can get into the meat of the conference.

The human element in running a successful registration area begins with good staffing and training. Every problem is solved by a human and not a machine. Our staff carefully navigates attendees, processes their information, checks them in, and provides them with individualized pass badges. Attendees, speakers, sponsors, partners, and staff use these badges throughout the week to access the venue.

Next is the Platform

The platform that I've built, which I'll refer to as the SMW Check-in Platform, pulls attendee data from our ecommerce platform for each city. The registration staff are able to live-search attendee data as each individual approaches the registration area.

After properly identifying the individual, recognizing which type of pass they've purchased, they are checked in. This feeds a data report that not only creates daily counts for our team to review, but also provides timestamp data to the attendee, who can view it by simply logging-in with their SMW credential on the site.

Finally, the Hardware

The next step entails the registration staff printing out a pass badge label composed of some basic attendee information, pass-type information, as well as a unique QR code contains further details on the attendee. These QR codes are then later scanned via scanners by our sponsors and partners, with whom attendees wish to network with.

Each registration staff utilizes a Macbook for accessing the SMW Check-in Platform via a browser, and a label printer. After checking-in an attendee, the label is printed directly from the platform and applied to a pass badge. The pass badge now containing unique info that is specific to that attendee is then handed off, and the individual can the proceed to access the venue floor with a pass badge in hand; or rather on neck.

Improving the Process

The SMW conference did not always perform this way. In the past, we relied on 3rd party companies to provide us with these type of services. Before this process, we'd manually export attendee data and send it off to these 3rd parties. This new internalized process enables us to continue selling passes in real-time and having our own internal platform provide us with accurate and up-to-date attendee data.

I absolutely saw an opportunity to bring this in-house. I saw the value of data flowing continuously throughout all of the owned and operated properties of SMW; first Ecommerce feeds Registration, and that then feeds Check-in. It's now one seamless data highway that enables our registration team to succeed.

What's Next?

The entire registration and check-in experience is very much a work in progress.

There are infinite ways in which we can not only further optimize the speed at which we process attendees, but also in the quality and quantity of data that we print on the badges themselves. Further enhancements will require both platform and Hardware enhancements.

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