Conference Session Tracking: Scanning Technology
Don’t Guess. PROVE that Your Conference is a Success.
Sara Czech, Technology Solutions Coordinator
The conferences and meetings industry is continually evolving as new technologies and trends rise and old ones fade away. In a traditional setup, planners rely on registration stations where attendees are manually checked in by a staff member. To see how many people attended each session requires a clipboard, sign-in sheet and conducting a headcount. These “analog” methods are cumbersome and inefficient, and it’s no surprise they’re falling to the wayside. Conference session tracking technology solves these problems and many more.
Streamline the Process
There are solid benefits to using session tracking technology. Perhaps most visible is the way that the registration process is streamlined. When session tracking is integrated into a registration platform, attendees can sign up for meetings and breakout sessions on their own time. Not only do they avoid waiting in line to register, their details are sent to a device on-site that grants them access to the session without the need of a ticket. Unlike registering in person on the day of, attendees can continually make changes and updates to their registration up to the last minute.
Take an Accurate Count
Getting an accurate count of attendance as it compares to registration numbers is invaluable. Sign-in sheets can get lost, mistakenly missed by attendees or filled out incorrectly. However, session tracking technology guarantees that numbers are accurate and instantly updated. Additionally, planners can control security and access to specific sessions.
Attendees also benefit from the use of this technology. Many require proof of their attendance to earn continuing education units (CEUs). Session scanning eliminates the need to validate participation through manual methods such as headcounts and sign-in sheets.
Prove Your Success
Conference session tracking is a great form of feedback. How many participants signed up for a session? How many attended, and how long did they stay? Did anyone leave early? With instant access to measurable feedback, clients can easily determine the popularity of a session. This information can then be used for future conferences and meetings, such as replacing a stale session or increasing marketing and promotion for a popular one to encourage even more attendance. These solutions reassure clients that feedback is available to them throughout and after the program, providing them the statistics they need to improve in the future.
Choose Your Technology
There are many different scanners and device options available, and each can be tailored for a specific conference or meeting. The most popular choice as of recent are iPads. Simply by scanning their badge or phone at an iPad check-in station, attendees can check into general sessions, breakouts or other events. iPads can be freestanding or held by a door monitor who greets attendants as they enter. This option drastically speeds up the check-in process and provides real-time reporting for meeting planners. The device’s wireless feature is an additional bonus.
Another option is an auto self-scanning station, which consists of a mini-computer and cradle scanner. Attendees can scan their own name badges as they enter and exit sessions, which reduces the number of team members needed to staff each station. One person can manage several self-scanning stations, cutting down on staffing costs.
Similar to self-scanning stations, a handheld scan option requires a staff member to operate each device. While the efficiency and speed of unmanned check-in stations is important, the value of having a team member there to greet attendees as they check in cannot be overstated.
One option that is occasionally requested is RFID technology. It can be an expensive solution that requires added work. Further, it can require large physical pieces that need to be assembled on-site. Generally, planners are advised to go with the more cost-effective and “simpler” options.
Find the Best Fit
When selecting a session tracking technology, it’s important to know your needs and the needs of your client. Some clients prefer face-to-face interaction, especially at smaller-scale conferences. Others may prefer an experience where the power is placed in attendees’ hands. Either way, solutions can be tailored to make a seamless experience for both attendees and meeting planners.
Once a client selects the type of technology they want to use, they can personalize the process. Choices range from customizable reports to how the equipment is set up on-site. metroConnections offers cross-platform options that allow clients to tie a variety of registration solutions to session tracking, further adding to the customization possibilities.
With conference session tracking, you can manage a meeting or conference more efficiently than ever before. Additionally, you have access to valuable, measurable results both during and after the event. It’s no surprise that this quick and simple technology is rapidly gaining popularity in the conferences and meetings world.
Sara Czech is the metroConnections technology solutions coordinator. She has been with the team since 2014, where she started as a registration lead. She is an expert in building and supporting Attend-eSource® technology solutions, such as websites, graphical emails, mobile apps and surveys, as well as performing lead retrieval and session scanning. Czech is a graduate of St. Cloud State University with a double major in photojournalism and Spanish. Prior to joining metro, she worked in the retail and medical industries.