I’ve been to a couple of Fanfests now, and my least favourite part of it has always been Registration. With the long line outside Harpa, in the freezing cold, just by the North Atlantic.
Now, registering a couple of thousand people is never a fun job, especially when you have a bunch of different accents to deal with. I’ve dealt with systems for events in the UK, where English is everyone’s first language, and those don’t run quickly either.
So, what would I suggest in my vast experience? Bar codes. The moment you have to type something in, or speak, you’re introducing a possibility of misinformation.
- Send out a mail to everyone, containing a unique bar code, ideally one which isn’t a contiguous number.
- They print this out (or have it on their phone)
- During registration, attached to each of the machines being used, you have a cheap hand-held barcode scanner
- When it scans, it first sends a key combo which sticks the cursor into the right field, enters the number, then hits enter.
- At this point, you have their details up on screen. You confirm it’s them, it updates the (hopefully central, but you could consolidate later) database showing they’ve registered
- You then hand over the tickets.
If you want to get really fancy you could throw in printing for the badges as well, but that’s probably excessive, and increases the initial cost significantly. Black onto plain white credit card sized plastic is around 9p per card, amortized over the lifetime of the card printer. Preprinted cards increases the cost. Thermal printing onto the tickets is possible, but also not cheap.
Might only shave a few seconds per person, but that stacks up when you’re doing a thousand people.
In case you’re wondering, most barcode scanners these days act as usb keyboards, just typing a preamble, the code, then a postamble. You could get fancy and use QR codes, but those scanners are more expensive and slower. Basic barcode scanners will set you back around £40 each. I had to put together a solution for work for this kind of thing, which has been pretty successful.