Session Auto-Progression

Square

Project: Making untrained event staff more successful
Product: OnArrival
Role: Product Designer
Year: 2018 (In Progress)

Case

OnArrival Check-in is used at large conferences with many concurrent sessions in many rooms, and is often used by inexperienced temp staff. Staff are required to change sessions on their check-in devices throughout the day.

Problem

Relying on the check-in staff to remember to change sessions (not to mention select the correct session, at the right time, and at the right room) is a major point of failure for attendance tracking. Even experienced users struggle with changing sessions; it’s a complex interaction that requires knowledge of the schedule and many decision points

Approach

Because OnArrival already knows the schedule and location of sessions, why should the user have to select each subsequent session at all? By selecting a room location first, OnArrival can then auto-advance the session according to the session times.

Insights

We found that check-ins require a timing window that was actually quite different than the session times, as attendees needed to be checked in before the session starts. Different types of sessions would need different timing (think large keynotes vs small workshops). Manually setting check-in windows would be laborious and tedious to do in advance, and interviews revealed that predefined schedules were rarely maintained in a live event environment. Times and rooms changed on the fly often, so rigid pre-configuration could cause more headaches than it would resolve.

Solution

We devised a system of “smart check-in windows” which would be activated by default for any session assigned to a room. This allows a flexible, algorithmically generated check-in start time that can properly adjust to allow large keynote sessions ample time to check in hundreds or thousands of attendees, while also working for small back-to-back sessions that change out rapidly. For the vast majority of session types, planners don’t need to configure anything—neither in advance or even if there is an on the fly room change. Simple adjust the session details in the system, and the smart check-in windows will automatically adjust as needed.

Evaluation

It’s early days with this project, so hard metrics aren’t in yet. Early user tests are very positive, with most planners being very impressed with the “it just works” approach to session switching. More to come…