By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
Companies that open their facilities up to guests and other non-employees need a visitor management system. What is a visitor management system? In simplest terms, it’s a way to keep tabs on anyone entering the facilities who isn’t employed there. There are safety and security elements to visitor management, as well as the opportunity to help guests more quickly acclimate to an unfamiliar environment. For companies big and small, visitor management is a great way to set expectations for guests.
What does visitor management mean?
Visitor management goes hand-in-hand with visitor experience. Employees use your facilities every day and they know what to expect. They know where the Finch Conference room is, where Leslie sits, and which vending machine has the best candy selection. They know where to find a breakout space when they need one, and they know the quickest route from one point to another.
Guests don’t have any of these advantages. Your facilities are unknown and unfamiliar. Even if they’re not a first-time visitor, they don’t have the same exposure and interaction with facilities as employees, and they might not feel as comfortable. The visitor management experience exists to bring a level of comfort and clarity to guests. They don’t have to wonder about where to go or what to do in your facilities—a visitor management system will guide them and shape the experience they have as a positive one.
Why is visitor management important?
Establishing expectations is only one objective of visitor management. Companies that control the intake and experience of visitors afford themselves the opportunity to shape a more complete visitor experience and bring more control to facilities management.
- Security: Visitor management lets companies dictate who’s allowed in their facilities and in what capacity. This can prevent anything from property and IP theft to unwanted access by strangers. Think of visitor management as facility gatekeeping.
- Safety: Alongside security, employee and guest safety are benefits of good visitor management. Facility managers can control who enters the workplace and what areas they don’t have access to. And, if there’s ever an incident, there’s always a log.
- Disruption: Nothing interrupts employees like needing to stop what they’re working on to give a visitor directions. Well-orchestrated visitor management includes wayfinding and even a guide to locations within your facility, to keep disruption to a minimum.
- Convenience: When guests know everything they need to know about their visit, it improves their overall experience. That can mean they get to a meeting on-time, locate a restroom with ease, or even find parking without any trouble!
Visitor management benefits everyone: guests, employees, and facility managers. It immerses guests into your workplace without disrupting it, and allows them to leave just as seamlessly when they’re done—in between, they get the full benefit and convenience of your facilities.
How do I set up a visitor management system?
Visitor management looks different in every facility because the scope of visitor interaction changes with company size. Small companies may have a sign-in sheet and a waiting area where guests sit tight until they’re retrieved. Larger facilities may have guest ID badges and wayfinding apps, along with automated arrival and departure emails. To build the right system for your facilities, consider the core elements of the visitor management experience:
- Welcome guests to your facilities with a clear intake process
- Set expectations for how to interact within facilities
- Provide wayfinding or access control to maintain order
- Have checkpoints set up for contact tracing and guest tracking
- Provide resources to answer questions or get help
- Create a clear end-of-visit process to leave a good impression
Each of these elements has room for customization and personalization. Here’s a simple example of what a visitor management system might look like, with each of the above standards built in:
Jamal schedules a visit with XYZ Company for 1pm on Wednesday. Tuesday evening, he receives an email confirming his appointment, with details about where to park and check in. He arrives on Wednesday and follows the check-in process—he picks up an ID badge at the first-floor visitor’s center and gets printed directions to the Golda Meir Conference Room on the fifth floor. He also gets a text with a link to facilities resources, such as where to find restrooms and the emergency exit plan. After his meeting, Jamal turns in his badge and leaves. He receives a follow-up email one hour later thanking him for his visit, with information about how to leave feedback.
This process is simple, but represents how cohesive a visitor’s experience should be—from before they even enter your facilities to well after they’ve left them. In between, there’s room for significant customization, automation, and fine-tuning, to ensure guests have the experience you want them to.
Make visitor management a priority
Visitor management is equal parts about making visitors comfortable and maintaining the status quo of facilities. A guest wants to feel welcomed and included, just as employees don’t want to be interrupted or fearful. They create a much-needed buffer, while immersing visitors in facilities. It’s a win-win!
Companies big and small can and should make visitor management a priority for the reasons outlined above. The simplicity and scalability of these systems ensure they’re effective as companies grow, and will meet the needs of diverse guests as they visit the facilities. Whether security, convenience, or traceability are priorities, a well-designed visitor management system delivers them all.
Keep reading: 5 Essential Visitor Management System Features