They say people form an impression in the first five seconds, and leave with an impression that, once set, is not easily changed.
That’s exactly why the presentation and functioning at check-in and check-out is vitally important if you want to leave a positive and lasting impression on your event’s guests.
The big question is; “what does it take to make that great, long-lasting impression?” We’ve broken down the five components of a typical event’s check-in and check-out to examine how strategic planning can cement the right impression into the minds of your guests long after the event has concluded.
Immerse Your Guests in the Event
Begin your planning by exploring venues as if they are a part of your overall theme, rather than a just a place to host your guests.
Prior to taking their first step into the venue, you are already telling your guests what to expect. Take a moment to ask if their walk up to check-in provides them with an expectation of what they’ll experience once inside the venue. Have you selected a place that emphasizes the night’s program, such as a historic theater with a red carpet entrance, complete with paparazzi?
Don’t be tempted to stop the party too early. Let your guests take the fun home with them by offering treats created by a celebrity chef after a hosted dinner, or a chance to shake the hands of the performers as they exit.
Simplify the Process
Nothing can ruin a great impression faster than a complicated, time-consuming process. Make sure you’ve got your check-in and check-out steps down with a few trial runs and provide thorough training for your volunteers prior to the event so you’ll be ready to handle any snags that come up.
Lay out your traffic flow in an instinctual way so your guests don’t have to question the process. Test it out on paper then conduct a few trial runs to make sure the path takes your guests to all the key points in the process.
Consider staging your check-in process as a cocktail hour, but keep guests moving into the venue in a timely manner or the lines might get backed up. If you include self check-in stations provide well-trained roving volunteers to help with questions.
Encouraging guests to process payments during the event at self-pay stations, like Greater Giving’s Auctionpay. This will allow them to bypass long lines and go straight to pick-up. If it’s a complicated process, place signs around the space with instructions to help move guests onto the next important point.
Create Effective Messaging
This is an opportunity to tell your guests about your organization’s work, but doing it in a way that solidifies the right impression of your group deserves thoughtful planning from your marketing team.
Introducing the night’s theme, as well as your non-profit’s mission is the messaging goal at check-in. It sets the mood for a great night, while at the same time introducing them to the purpose of your organization. Just be sure to keep the words and phrasing in your message from becoming too heavy with emotion so as to not dampen your guests’ spirits upon arrival.
This is a chance to tell your guests about all the great things you’re doing. Create the right messages for handouts that can go home with a parting gift, along with a thank you note for their contribution and information on how they can get more involved with your organization.
Pick the Right Sponsors
Subtle messaging plays an important role in shaping opinions, so be sure your sponsors’ messaging is in line with the goals of your organization.
Work with your sponsors to help them understand your mission and the theme of the night. Typically, they’ll want to present a unified front when representing themselves to your guests and may even offer to share your messaging on their signage or websites.
Let your sponsors know their participation is important by including branding and product placement at checkout. Include them in gift bags, signage and on the receipts sent home with guests. These efforts will prove your organization is a key asset to their business.
Train and Retrain Volunteers
Nothing can have a larger impact on guest experience than a well-trained team of volunteers and staff. Prep your team with answers to common questions to provide them with the confidence and knowledge to positively engage with guests.
Place volunteers around the check-in stations, with senior team members ready at the most vulnerable points. Provide them with ways to communicate that will keep everyone on the same page in real-time.
Your guests have spent a wonderful evening supporting a cause they care about and now it’s time to wrap up the evening with a swift and simple checkout process.
Don’t forget the importance of parting words. Coach your team on how to ask the tough questions, like securing monthly donations, advertising your next event and announcing upcoming volunteer opportunities. Also, you might consider providing your volunteers with the energy and enthusiasm to complete the job by offering them a snack and a pep talk prior to the event’s conclusion. With this extra boost they’ll be ready to help your guests with speed and a cheerful attitude.
How does GG suggest to streamline check in for data collection/entry? Example: if staff/volunteers need to enter all of the guests’ data into the system at check in? We still haven’t been able to get table hosts to collect the data prior to the event.
Thank you for your question. Greater Giving Event Software includes an application called Go Time, which makes it really easy to pull up guest information as they check in and update it in the moment on a laptop or tablet. You can also ask them to quickly fill out a card and then attach it to their file. Then during the quieter time of the event (e.g. during dinner) volunteers and/or staff can update your system with guest contact information.