Conference Registration and Welcome
The welcome that guests receive as they arrive at a conference is all-important and the registration process has to be slick and efficient, as it will be the first impression that is made. Those are the longest lasting. Registration should ensure that guests are marked down as having arrived and are given appropriate information to help them get the best out of the conference.
Registration of Conference GuestsThe actual registration of conference delegates can be done by computer, and often is, particularly with large conferences in tailor-made conference venues. But be wary of going down this route as delegates won’t stand for delays. Computerised registration at these larger conferences is often done by rows of staff, each with their own computer and if you don't have that many available it is likely to cause a bottleneck.
For smaller conferences it's usually far better to welcome guests by ticking them off against a paper list. The information can be put into the computer once the delegates are all accounted for and have been seen into their first session.
Make sure your welcoming staff are prepared for changes as busy business people will often have to change their plans and ask someone else to go in their place. They are unlikely to let conference organisers know beforehand. So make sure that brief forms are available to get the contact details of new participants. If you are handing out name badges make sure there are some blank ones available for substitutes and additional guests.
Give Out Information at the WelcomeThere is likely to be a delegate pack to hand out as people arrive and in some cases it may need to be personalised. For example, if there is a choice between a number of simultaneous sessions that delegates will have made when they booked for the conference, it's really useful to be able to remind them of the choices that they had made. It might have been some months ago and it makes for a pleasant welcome to receive something that shows that care and attention has been paid to guests' preferences.
Make sure registration staff are aware of any changes that have had to be made to the conference programme and that they brings guests' attention to those changes as they are signing in. And the welcome will be more effective if all the staff are smiling as well.
Conference Security and Health and SafetyFinally some words about security and health and safety. If you are hosting a conference on a sensitive subject or one where a significant number of high profile people will be attending, you will need to put more focus on accurate identification of delegates and security. It's well worth hiring an experienced security company to do this for you.
Secondly, some delegates, particularly if there are delays with registration, may try to push past to get in without registering. If this happens, security staff should be on hand to detain them because, with most venues, you will be breaching health and safety regulations if you do not have an accurate count of the people in the building. In the case of a fire the fire brigade will be asking for the data and you could be in trouble if you can't produce accurate figures.