Over the years, I’ve worked at many a registration desk at conferences. Afterwards, there’s always a debrief to talk about how to make the process better and faster. There has to be a better mousetrap. Registration always seems to be a bottleneck. My theory is that people meet up in the lobby and all check in together to make the lives of those doing the registration miserable.
Typically, participants get a registration package and a great deal of time and effort goes into nametag or registration package management. By management, we know what that means – putting things into alphabetical order.
Then, the participants approaches the desk and gives you their name. As often as not, they say it very quickly because they’ve used it all their life so you’ll have to have them repeat it and even perhaps spell it out for you! Then, there might be an accent or two…
Once you get the name, then it’s into the collection to find their registration package. Of course, they’ve stood in the right line A-E, F-L, etc. and you don’t have to excuse yourself and dig into another box! If you’re lucky, things stay in alphabetical order for the duration of registration. A big hassle comes when a wife/husband combo using the same last name arrive. You get the first one and then the second person steps forward and you do a re-search for packages!
At the CSTA Conference, we used electronic registration. It was really slick. We had 4 iPads for registrant use and two printers. On the iPad, they just had to find themselves by tapping their name, make sure details were correct and tap print. As you can see in the video below, registration can be done in 13 seconds!
Wife/husband combo? No problem. In computer terms, it didn’t even require serial registration; they could do it in parallel with side by side iPads.
In retrospect, there were slowdowns but it wasn’t because of the registration. It was reconnecting with people and taking the time to walk back to the table holding the registration bags. We worked on many variations to try to speed things up.
The most comment question “Is that it?”
It was nice to just say “Yep”.