Congress planning tips – how to manage check-in

When it comes to congress planning, many aspects have to be considered to make sure the event will be a success.

What is a congress

But first let’s clear a fact that sends many into confusion. What is a congress and what makes it different from a conference? The two terms are often used interchangeably but the types of event are in fact different.

A definition we want to quote is the one given by the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers (IAPCO):

“Regular coming together on a representational basis of several hundreds – or even thousands – of individuals belonging to a single professional, cultural, religious or other group, (…) often convened to discuss a particular subject. Contributions to the presentation and discussion of the subject matter come only from members of the organizing body. Frequency: usually established in advance and can be either multiannual or annual. (…) A congress will often last several days and have several simultaneous sessions”.

Congress vs. conference: differences

According to IAPCO, what differentiates a congress from a conference is:

“As compared with a congress, a conference is normally smaller in scale and more select in character – features which tend to facilitate the exchange of information. The term (…) carries no special connotation as to frequency.”

It becomes clear that a congress, given its considerable size and the structure featuring smaller events (presentations, seminars) is a large scale event.

Why guest registration is important

As a savvy event planner, you did all homework: the date and venue were selected and booked many months in advance. Several speakers/professionals were hired to share their knowledge and a very well-known keynote speaker will bring that extra-value and reputation to your event. All the necessary audiovisual equipment was either provided by the venue or rented, as well as lighting. There’s strong wifi in the entire venue. Catering is in place, and so are gifts and press kits. The event was highly marketed and an impressive attendance is expected.

All these efforts can though be ruined by a chaotic registration of the participants. Registration is the first touch-point between guests and the event, in real life, beyond the glitzy advertisements and the resounding speaker names on the program. If registration is not well organized, your guests will be angry before even entering the congress and will feel they are not getting any value for their money, no matter how famous the speakers are or how amazing the catering.

Tips for a flawless check-in process

  1. Basic resources (human and logistic): the bigger the crowd, the more resources you will need. Think about one host/ess per 100 guests, and one 2.5 m table for each 2 hosts/esses.
  2. Connection: WiFi with good coverage in the reception area, a power supply on hand, smartphones, a laptop (even if you don’t plan to use it, but it will come in handy in case of emergency), and even a printer (in case last minute badges need to be printed).
  3. Permanent availability: at least one person should remain in the reception area for the whole duration of the congress works (seminars, presentations). You can never know when a belated guest appears and needs urgent assistance!
  4. An info-point: apart from the registration tables, the ideal would be to have a separate table just for information, with a dedicated person and leaflets/brochures featuring the schedule, maybe also maps of the venue with the various events marked on them. This way you can avoid slowing down of the check-in process by people needing to ask where the bathroom is or when the first coffee break will be or which floor is the first seminar.

Go the extra mile

Want to incorporate top-notch technology into your congress? By setting up the event on Metooo, you can offer your guests a perfect welcoming experience. For a smooth check-in, all you need to do is use the Metooo Event Plan app, which is free, both for iOS and Android. With the app, your hosts/esses just need to scan the QR code on the tickets, or, in case a guest doesn’t have the ticket with him/her, do the check-in by name.

Remember, from the guests’ point of view, the check-in process is a very important part of customer service, and, with Metooo as your event planning and management platform, you can make sure your congress starts getting the reputation it deserves, right from the first moment that your guests set foot into the venue.

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