Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How many Registration Counters are Needed for My Event?

While I’ve not come across a hard and fast rule to answer this question, I believe that we can still give ourselves a good rule of thumb to apply as a starting point.

In a previous post, I examined the question of how many people you needed to staff your event and, if you recall, the rule of thumb given there (1 staff per 100 attendees) was geared towards knowing the number of people you would need to staff your registration counters. But – does that estimate also apply to the registration counters themselves…?

Yes and No.

As with staffing levels, 1 per 100 is a good place to start. In this case, though, we’ll use one registration counter for every 100 registrants. Why? Well, I use this as my starting point mainly because each staff person will need some space within which to operate and it is difficult to have too many people all working the same counter. Another reason, quite honestly, is that it makes the math easy and I can make a quick estimate if necessary.

When it comes to actually ordering registration tables or counters, though, I take a good look at what the check-in process will entail. Will attendees simply come by and pick up a badge then go into the meeting or is there more to it than that? Will they need to sign in and/or sign out of the meeting? Are there additional materials that they will need to collect on check-in? If so, how are those materials to be handed out – as a package, singly, attendee chooses what they want, etc.? All of these questions affect how much space you will need to check people in to your event – and, therefore, how many counters you will need. Even the size of the name badges can affect the amount of space you need.

A good way to roughly calculate the space you will need is to set up a mock registration counter in your office. Just pick a table and lay out ten to twenty badges, plus any additional materials they will need to receive on check-in, as if you were conducting your event check-in right there. That will allow you see how much space you will need for everything. You will need to extrapolate a bit to figure out your total space requirements – but it will give you a rough approximation.

Then, think about how long it will take to hand them everything – time how long it takes you if that helps you. Remember, the longer the process takes, the more people you will need to make the process go quickly and efficiently. If you need additional people, you will most likely need more space. If, on the other hand, you am only handing out name badges and there are no other materials or activities taking place at check-in, you could probably get away with one counter for 200 people – and just need one staff to manage it.

So, as usual for many of my posts, the ultimate answer is “it depends” when we look at how many registration counters are needed for a particular event. However, you can still use the “1 per 100” rule to get you started.

~ Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises