For years, it has been very acceptable to arrive at a site and sign in your attendance at the ‘visitors book’. Sometimes you would get given a generic pre-printed ‘Visitor’ pass. Or occasionally it would be a carbonated pass that you write on, with a carbon copy your host retains. It’s a relatively cheap, low tech and analogue process which demands the time of reception staff and provides little if any added value to visitor or host.
However, that’s all changed now.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Tipping Point, published in 2000, presented the idea that in innovation uptake and marketing, there is a point at which ideas and uptake exponentially grow – the Tipping Point.
I think we are reaching the tipping point for the way Visitor Management is conducted, across receptions, security gates, gate houses and at events across organisations and businesses everywhere. Pressure from regulation, safeguarding concerns, lower technology costs and freemium pricing models have begun to make hard copy visitor sign-in books obsolete, in favour of electronic records that have a multitude of additional features and efficiencies.
It’s happened in other sectors of course. Airbnb launched in 2008 and now has 4 million listings in 191 countries. The platform has democratized the travel industry and traditional hotel groups have had to completely review their business models as a result. iPhone changed our view of a phone being a portable device to make calls. No less than 1% of the usage time of a smart phone is spent making calls in 2018. Nest launched web-enabled heating controls in 2011, making the internet of things not only a mainstream reality but also one that saved you money and reduced energy consumption, changing our perception of a connected home in the process. In 2018 Nest Hello will do the same for home security.
So where does Visitor Management fit in?
Organisations everywhere are ditching the visitor book in favour of electronic software that has a myriad of additional features. In turn this is upending a simple and anodyne experience into one that is dynamic, value added and even exciting!
As well as booking in visitors and managing their departure, you can…
Add bookings before arrival, enabling better resource management
Pre-register contractors or big parties, saving time and ensuring correct documentation is received ahead of time
Automatically send confirmation emails to guests with details such as maps, parking recommendations and a list of nearby cafe
Print passes on card, paper or plastic with Photo ID for improved security
Notify hosts automatically when a guest has arrived
Create Management Information on visitor flows and busy periods
Produce an instant Roll Call for emergencies
Record Visitor preferences and notes, like allergies or favourite hot drink
This is just the start. Tablet based self-registration, GDPR, face recognition and artificial intelligence will all bring new features and benefits to an already transforming sector. And investors are cottoning on too – a recent US competitor just raised $43m in second round funding!
All this will tip the sector into overdrive.
I was recently at a school where the visitor sign in book was still in use, but between them and their governor board there was a realisation that it was not an acceptable solution for the future. A large manufacturing client we have are very excited about using Semieta Visitor to completely transform their Contractor Management experience, bringing more controls, improved safety and obsoleting complex and disparate manually updated spreadsheets.
So, next time you visit an organisation, you may find your visitor experience vastly improved, from the pre-arrival communications, to your favourite coffee handed to you on arrival.
Funny how it always boils down to a good cuppa!