ILLUSTRATION: MARK FISHER
As soon as our hospitality event opens, our check-in desks are overrun. Staff members are overwhelmed by the onslaught, and attendees become frustrated with the growing wait time. How can we grease the wheels of this process?
My favorite strategy is to create a "challenge desk." The majority of guests usually need to offer you their names or present tickets of some sort in exchange for admittance. If you arm yourself with enough check-in staff and train them to ask the proper identification questions, this process should operate smoothly and effortlessly. Where you run into trouble is when a particular guest has a special request, isn't on the list, or somehow needs additional attention.
While this guest is just as valuable as the others, he or she clogs up the process. But if you create a separate "challenge desk," staffers can immediately direct any atypical guests to this location (and alert attendees can funnel themselves here) – thereby removing the clog.
Simply position another desk and a couple of staffers (preferably at least one person with decision-making power and trained in how to interact with the media) away from the main traffic flow. Then divert all special-request attendees to this area. Since they have an uncommon situation to begin with, they'll likely tolerate a slightly longer wait in line. Plus, they might even feel like more like VIPs than nuisances since they have their own special check-in area.
— John Ierardi, founder, Event Energizers LLC, New York