Onsite's dynamic in-person badge printing and check-in solution gives you a level of customization and personalization found nowhere else in the industry. Advance preparation is key to making sure your team is ready to print that first badge when the time comes.
This article guides you from purchase to printing with specific timelines, recommendations, and tips. Where relevant, you'll find links to our comprehensive Socio Academy course, help articles, and videos on each topic.
Let's dive in! 🌊
12 weeks to go...
It's time to buy! Purchase Onsite no less than 12 weeks before your event so we have plenty of time to work through the details of your event and counsel you on your custom badge or equipment needs. By week 11, we'll know exactly what you need in your Onsite kit and exactly where to send it.
11 weeks to go...
It's time to learn! Onsite is very intuitive. However, there's always nuance. That's why we have a Socio Academy course all about Onsite and articles on each part of the Onsite process. 📚
We highly recommend that you choose at least one member of your team to be your Onsite expert. For events larger than 1,000 people, we recommend at least two experts. They'll learn how to configure the Onsite App, create badges, deploy the equipment, and help print badges. Once you've picked an expert, give them these resources to get started:
Implementing Socio Onsite (Academy course)
Getting Started with Socio Onsite (Article)
Onsite App Configuration (Article)
Socio Onsite Demo (Video)
⭐️ Keep in mind, if you don't have an Onsite expert on your team and need help, consider tapping our Professional Services team. We're happy to help build your check-in app, design badges, create custom rules, order hardware and venue internet, and more. Reach out to your Socio contact for more info.
Once your Onsite expert has gathered some knowledge, it's time to start creating the Onsite event and configuring the app.
Remember, Socio Registration is the ultimate pairing with Socio Onsite for ease of use and reduced maintenance. If you're using a different registration system, make sure you have a planned date for finalizing and uploading your attendees, with plenty of time to spare for testing.
Whatever registration system you use, be sure to ask any questions that check-in staff may ask on-site in your registration forms. You can then add those to the Check-in page to speed up the check-in process. 🧠
10 weeks to go...
It's time to build! By now your Onsite expert should have started creating the Onsite event and configuring the Onsite App in the Platform with custom colors, graphics, button labels, and any other customizations you want.
Now it's time to learn how to design badges. Badges can be as simple or complex as you like. Whatever the case, these articles have everything you need to know:
Attendees and Attendee Types (Article)
(Optional) Link Socio Onsite to Registration or Event App (Article) - If you didn't link your Onsite event to a Registration or Event App when you made your Onsite event, this guide shows you how. If you did, then this guide isn't for you.
Onsite Badge Types (Article)
Onsite Badge Creation (Article)
(Optional) Onsite Visibility Rules (Article) - If your badges are one-size-fits-all with no information to be printed for specific groups of attendees, you likely don't need Visibility Rules. It's a good idea to check out the article anyway so you know what's possible.
What you learn about Onsite badge design should help you make decisions on exactly what you want on your badges.
For example, because the printers print only in black and white, you may decide that you'd like some elements pre-printed on your badge stock. Start making designs and playing around with customization options — nothing is final until we submit the badge stock order. Along the way, don't hesitate to reach out to our Support team with any questions.
Build your team
Start thinking about building your Onsite team. You'll need more people than your Onsite expert to manage the check-in table(s) and equipment, answer attendee questions, and help with lanyards and badge holders. Whether attendees will use the iPads themselves or your staff will check attendees in, plan to have more people than you need for each iPad so that some can act as "floaters". Floaters can fill in for no-shows and relieve others when they need to take a break or walk someone to the help desk.
Don't worry about training yet — simply start the process of staffing your check-in tables. Recruit tech-savvy people who are excited to work with your attendees and help manage the check-in process. Effective pre-event communication with staff is crucial so everyone knows where to be and when. Plan your staff communication and sign-up methods early.
9-8 weeks to go...
It's time to order! At this point, you should know how big your badges will be and how you want them to look. Consult with your Socio contact for best practices and tips on how to create the perfect badge, and then send us a list of your requirements and any artwork (.ai filetype only). Within 7 business days, we'll send you a digital badge design proof. Once you approve that, we'll submit the badge order.
⭐️ Keep in mind, if you want badge holders or lanyards, you must order those separately. If you're ordering your own badge stock, we recommend ordering 25% more than you need to cover reprints, calibrations, and testing.
7-4 weeks to go...
It's time to plan! Working out where your badge printing table(s) go inside your venue is critical. Consider details like:
Entrance locations and incoming traffic flow
Elevator access and handicap accessibility
Health and safety precautions
Post-check-in traffic flow and information
Power outlets, cables, and splitters
Number of tables and chairs for equipment and staff
Will there be separate check-in stations for VIPs, staff, press, etc.?
⭐️ Keep in mind, signage can make or break your check-in experience. Not enough signage or signage that's too vague leads to attendee confusion. Let each type of attendee know exactly where to go with clear signage at every entry point and major hallway.
We recommend hard-wiring the routers into the internet at your venue (5Mbps minimum) for the most stable experience. However, each router in your Onsite kit comes with a SIM card, so it's a good idea to test cellular strength in the location where you want to put your check-in stations. If the signal is weak or intermittent, consider moving check-in to a location where your router(s) can get a solid cell signal in case the venue internet goes down.
Speaking of your Onsite kit, it's helpful for planning to read up on what comes in your Onsite kit and how to set it up. Check these out:
Onsite Hardware Setup (Article)
As part of planning, give careful thought to how attendees will verify certain information, such as medical status. Ask as many questions as possible as part of the registration process so event staff can simply look at attendee answers on the Check-in page instead of asking each person for the information.
Plan to have one line of your check-in area set up as a help desk where people with badge printing issues can go so lines can keep moving. Issues usually arise because of incorrect information or duplicate registrations. Be sure to have a printer and iPad at the help desk so people don't have to go get back in line after resolving their problem. Your Onsite expert(s) should generally be at the help desk.
3-2 weeks to go...
It's time to be certain! At this point, you should have a detailed plan of operation for badge printing. Make doubly sure that your Onsite kit can be shipped to the venue up to three days before the event. If you don’t have storage available at your venue, you may need to have the kit shipped to your office or some other address. Reach out to your Socio contact if you need to change the shipping address.
During this time frame, we'll send you the tracking information for your Onsite kit.
This is the best time for the Onsite expert to start training your check-in staff. Go over the venue setup plan, review safety protocols, and show staff how to correct problems with attendee badge information. Show them the video and articles linked below so they see exactly what printing is like from the attendee perspective and know how to set up Onsite hardware:
Demo: Socio Onsite Check-in and Badge Printing (Video starts at 15:02)
Onsite Hardware Setup (Article)
Zebra ZD620 Printer Setup (Article)
Take a look at your test attendees’ profiles in the Platform to double-check that visibility rules are working as planned, and show the differences to check-in staff so they know what to expect.
⭐️ Keep in mind, make sure your Onsite expert has a Socio Platform account so they can log into the Onsite App on check-in day.
It's time! You should receive your Onsite kit at least 1 day before your event. As soon as you can get access to the venue, have your Onsite expert and staff set up your Onsite hardware and test badge prints. Once testing is complete, it's a good idea to do staff check-in as soon as possible so staff an attendees aren't mixed together in line on event day.
Staff should test the night before check-in begins and every morning you open check-in. This helps staff acclimate to the process so they know exactly what the attendee experience will be like. Testing also helps clear any confusion and make sure printers are loaded and configured correctly.
Even though every printer in your kit comes pre-calibrated, each staff member should still practice loading and calibrating a printer at least once. Depending on the size of your event, staff may need to load more badge stock into printers during check-in if a roll/stack runs out. Loading new badges quickly keeps check-in running smoothly. 🏃
Testing and printing tips:
Pay close attention to the spacing and design of test badges and make adjustments to the printer or design as needed.
Create a test attendee for each Attendee Type and print badges for each to make sure visibility rule customizations work as expected.
After verifying the badge prints look good, start printing staff badges
Have staff practice opening the Onsite App’s settings and refreshing the data.
If you're using a distributed check-in where staff operate the iPads instead of the attendees, rehearse check-in with all staff.
Make sure staff and attendees don't hold their hand against the printer to receive the tag as it's printing. This can cause the printer to jam.
Have attendees put on their own lanyards/put badges in their own sleeves to keep lines moving if check-in is really busy.
Timing is everything. It's a good idea to time your check-in process while you're testing to see how long it takes. Use that info to help with capacity planning. You can also time check-in during the event and make adjustments to staffing and equipment on the fly!
⚠️ Caution! If you make changes to badge designs in the Platform, be sure to publish them and then refresh each iPad to finalize the changes.
If you've followed the process and timeline in this article and learned from the training material linked here, you'll be ready when your first attendee steps up to the check-in table.
When everyone is checked in, take a look at the Check In report on the Attendees tab, and make data-driven decisions around staffing and check-in times so your next check-in experience can be that much smoother.
If you have any questions at all, your best resource is our awesome Support team. Click the Get Support button below to find out how to get in touch.
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