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How to Use QR Codes to Speed Up Event Check-In

Author: Kate Hawkes
July 27, 2023
🕑 7 min read

Even if you’ve spent months planning your event, what happens day-of can leave a lasting impression. Your guest experience can hinge on one big moment: Event check-in. 

When planning your event, you probably hope it will look something like this:

  • Attendees turn up to your sold-out event and form a neat line
  • Your volunteers and staff check everyone in almost instantly
  • The attendees move into the venue
  • The event starts on time

But, most organizations find that it happens a bit more like this:

  • Attendees turn up early to get the best spots, and crowd around the entrances
  • Your volunteers and staff struggle to find each attendee name on their list
  • There’s confusion about tickets being used more than once
  • Your attendees start to get frustrated at the wait
  • There isn’t time to confirm if every paper ticket is for the right event
  • Your event starts behind schedule
  • Volunteers are overwhelmed, staff are stressed, and attendees are restless

Luckily, that’s the old way of doing things.

With online registration and digital ticketing being the norm now more than ever, there are great options in place to speed up event check in and make it more reliable. Like using QR codes for event check in!

Imagine: it takes less than 2 seconds to check in attendees by scanning a QR code. Plus, being able to check the list of attendees already in your event software makes getting your event started on time a breeze.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about the benefits of using QR codes for event check-in, how to create them, FAQs and more!

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

What Are QR codes?

QR codes are a type of barcode—you may have seen them used on paper or electronic tickets, including airline boarding passes. Each QR code is unique, so when the code is scanned it accesses personalized information on the related ticket, including which event the registration is for, the date and time, the name of the associated registrant, and whether the ticket has been paid for.

qr code image

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

What You Can Do With QR Code Check-In

Using event software with a QR code generator makes running your event much easier. Your event registrants will get a digital copy of their ticket right away to their inbox! And the staff organizing your event will have a backup of all the attendee information too!

By using QR codes for your event check-in, you’ll be able to: 

  • Automatically issue each registrant with a unique QR code via a registration email.
  • Give registrants the option to print their event ticket QR code or show it on their mobile device.
  • Scan QR codes and automatically check in the registrant.
  • See information relating to that registration, including the date they registered and whether they have any guests.
  • Get notifications about any issues with registration, including if the QR code has already been used to check in or if it’s for a different event.

6 Ways QR Codes Speed Up Event Check-In

You’ve put a ton of planning into your event—you want event day to go off without a hitch! Here are 6 ways QR codes help you achieve a seamless event check in:

  1. No need to manually search for names in a list.
  2. Move the queue faster, meaning fewer frustrated event attendees.
  3. Keep track of who is already checked in.
  4. No training needed—just open the app and scan the QR code.
  5. No laptops or printouts needed—just use a smartphone!
  6. Quicker check-in means less rushing and fewer errors

Check out these 6 benefits in our infographic below:

qr code check in benefits infographic

How to Check In Event Registrants Using QR Codes

Quicker, smoother event check-ins sounds like a dream—but how do you actually use QR codes when event day arrives? We’ll walk you through a simple way you can use these features with WildApricot. What you’ll need to get started is the WildApricot For Admins app.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.


QR Code quick-start guide:

Here’s what you can expect when using WildApricot to create QR codes for your event:

  • QR codes will automatically be generated and included in event confirmation emails.
  • Registrants can open their confirmation email on their mobile device.
  • Volunteers can open up the event on the WildApricot for Admins app and click Check In With QR Code.
  • Using a mobile device, a volunteer can scan a registrant’s QR code (on their smartphone or printed ticket) and check them in.
  • And that’s it! You’re ready to check in your next registrant.

So, how much time can you save by checking in registrants using QR codes? If you’re scanning QR codes, it can take less than 2 seconds to check in each attendee.

Want a further breakdown of each of these steps? Read on!

QR code check in mobile gif

1. Send QR codes in event confirmation emails.

As a best practice, registrants should expect a confirmation email when they’ve successfully signed up for your event! In this case, that confirmation email will include their digital ticket (which they can print) PLUS a QR code to make check-in easy.

Come event day, your volunteers can check event confirmation emails by following these steps:

  • Click on Events in the main menu of the WildApricot for Admins app.
  • Then, click Event Emails. You can then view the Event Registration Confirmed link.
  • In the email, the QR code will be shown as the macro {QR_Code}. When someone receives that email, it will include a unique QR code as an image.
  • If you have modified your registration confirmation email template, you can add a QR code by adding {QR_Code} in Edit mode, and clicking Save.

2. Registrants open confirmation email on their mobile device when they’re ready to check in.

When they receive their confirmation email, registrants will find their QR code on their ticket. They might choose to scan their ticket digitally from their device, or print it out ahead of time and scan it that way.

QR code email - app scroll resized

3. Volunteers check in guests using QR codes.

To prepare for event day, have your volunteers download the WildApricot for Admin app. From there, checking in guests with QR codes takes a few simple steps:

  • Download the app for iOS here, or
  • Download the app for Android here.
  • Click the Events icon.
  • Then select Upcoming Events and select the relevant event from the list. 
  • Scroll down to click Check In With QR Code.
  • Give the app permission to access your camera. (This will only happen the first time you use the app!) This lets you scan the QR codes from your mobile device.

qr code mobile app check in button

4. Scan registrant’s QR code with the mobile device camera. 

The beauty of a QR code (and the event software that comes with it) is that it will automatically check if the registration is valid. If the guest hasn’t already been checked in, then a message will pop up showing that the scan is successful! Ta-da! Then they are all set to attend the event.

You can even get more information about the registrant. Simply tap on their name and you’ll see their profile expand! Does their registration include guests? You’ll see additional QR codes along with their ticket, and you can easily check in those guests too!

qr code mobile app scanning phone 2

5. Check in the next event registrant.

Keep your event lineups moving steadily. All you have to do is click the Scan Another Code and keep checking in your next guests by scanning their QR codes.

Bonus: How to check in unpaid registrations.

Have an unexpected or last-minute event registrant? If an attendee hasn’t paid for their event ticket yet, you’ll see a message pop up when you try to scan their code, letting you know there’s one more step before they’re successfully checked in.

To check in a registrant with an unpaid registration:

  • Tap the circle to the left of the registrant’s name
  • Choose from the options: Check In With Payment or Check In Without Payment.

Tips and Best Practices For Scanning QR Codes

Ever have that moment when you’re fumbling to scan a QR code? While the process usually takes a few seconds, sometimes issues happen! These can momentarily slow down the process!

But don’t get frustrated. Follow these tips for scanning QR codes that aren’t working:

On mobile:

  • Ask the attendee to turn up the brightness on their device
  • Ask the attendee to zoom in on the QR code

On paper:

  • Try flattening the paper out if there are any creases
  • Hold the paper directly under the phone you’re using to scan, rather than at an angle
  • Move a little so there’s more light hitting the paper

Frequently Asked Questions

What will happen if someone tries to use a QR code from another event?

If the registration is for a different event, then the registrant will not be checked in, and a message will appear identifying the event.

What happens if someone has already checked in with that QR code?

If the QR code has already been used to check in a registrant, then it won’t allow check in again if it’s scanned again. A message will appear letting you know that this registrant has already checked in.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot and boost event engagement with QR codes.

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