How to manage attendee flow across your event site

Left to their own devices large groups of people may struggle to navigate a complex event site, which can negatively impact their experience and create stress and confusion for event managers. Avoid unwanted event chaos by following these practical crowd management tips that our experts have learned during more than a decade of transforming event experiences for organizers and attendees.

1. Access detailed to-scale floor plans 

Venues will usually provide a floor plan but they often lack in detail. Does your floor plan indicate the location of pillars, power sources, collapsable walls, fire hydrants? Does it note the dimensions of the room, including the ceiling height? To avoid surprises during bump-in, you need sitemaps that are detailed and to scale. If necessary, visit the venue again: take photos and don’t forget your tape measure!

Once you have a detailed floor plan, use it as a template for your event sitemaps. This ensures you won’t experience surprise bottlenecks due to unexpected structures or belatedly encounter fire escapes that can’t be blocked by event infrastructure such as your stage, a key sponsor booth or brand activation point.

2. Plan entry and exit flow for each space

Now you know exactly what your event space looks like, you can plan entry and exit flow for each location. To do this, mentally walk around the entire site, ensuring that entry and exit points are logical and accessible. For some spaces, it is best to have separate entry and exits. Or you might decide to rope off access through the main door to ensure entry and exit at different points.

Ensure you plan exit and entry flow for every space, not just check-in and the main expo floor. Each workshop, session room and café space is unique and poorly managed spaces anywhere can disrupt an attendee experience, waste time and cause headaches for event staff.

3. Link spaces visually to encourage attendees to follow a particular journey

Event managers can learn a lot from Ikea, which is a master at encouraging customers to follow a particular route through its stores. From the moment you arrive in an Ikea store, it is clear where you are supposed to go and you are taken on a carefully thought out journey.

To follow Ikea’s example, link spaces with brightly coloured prompts such as arrows on the floor, eye level signage or spectacles visible from the next space you want people to visit. Ensure you employ people-management tactics that can still be seen once the room is full, such as signs or arrows located high above the crowd.

And, of course, make sure you have people to direct the flow from one space to the next. At Jomablue, we love a brightly coloured lollipop signs that make it easy for people to see where they should be heading while at the same time adding a person touch.

4. Position staff at key locations

Staff positioned at key locations can answer questions from anyone needing directions. They can also help ensure people keep moving, as even just one person stopping for a few seconds can cause people to back up behind them. By spreading messages such as “The keynote session is this way and starts in 5 minutes”, these staff can encourage efficient traffic flow. They are also your eyes and ears at the event, able to report bottlenecks, common points of confusion and identify where you may need to add additional signage. Using this information, event organizers can act quickly before small things become a big issue.

Key locations to position staff include arrival areas outside the venue, event check-in, locations where you want people to move between expo floors that join over two halls, keynote sessions, breakout rooms and areas you have identified on your site map as potentially problematic.

5. Use technology to streamline the flow of people across an event site

For bigger events, you might have thousands of people arrive in less than one hour. This has the potential to cause long wait times and impersonal experiences for attendees and limited understanding of arrival numbers for organizers. Jomablue’s innovative technology enables arrivals to walk directly into the event site, pausing only momentarily to be greeted in person and handed a Smart Badge. Organizers can assess a detailed event dashboard that shows them in real time exactly how many people have checked in.

Jomablue technology also gives insights into people flow across an event site. Know how many people are located in each session room, how many attendees an exhibitor has spoken to, and how many people are yet to check-in: no more guessing or gut-feel decisions. Verifiable data enables informed, effective, quick decision making.

6. Have clear reporting chains for escalating issues

Clear reporting lines and training on how to escalate issues will empower your teams and resolve issues faster.

For example, ensure door staff have a team leader who is capable of answering general operational questions. And if the team leader doesn’t know the answer they can ask an event coordinator. Only urgent or more serious issues are escalated to the event manager.

7. Post event review

After a show, it is easy to close the files and go onto the next project. However, it is essential to capture event feedback and, most importantly, to document key learnings for future events. Include as many key stakeholders in your meeting as you can to capture a full view.

Post event is also a great time to review your event data. Which sessions were full and which were undersubscribed? Which exhibitors performed best? How many leads did sponsors gather? These proof points can enrich your ROI reporting and offer valuable lessons for future events.

Jomablue is the leader in event intelligence, empowering top brands to transform event experiences into sales and marketing insights. Contact us to find out more.