It's basically event speak for "crazy-making-place." Or "place-where-happiness-goes-to-die".
Literally. Registration can be a nightmare depending on your event and depending on the amount of people who attend.
But let me be clear with why this is so important:
Your registration desk is the first experience attendees will have with your event.
This is the make or break moment where they'll either feel totally welcomed, or just like another number in a cattle car (that's the analogy, right)? And it can take a lot more hard planning than you originally thought.
Things to think about
How many attendees do you have? If it's between 50 - 100, you need 2 people at the registration desk PLUS 1 person at the help desk (we'll get to this). For every additional 50-75, I'd add another person to assist.
What are you handing out? If it's a nametag, an agenda, and a check off a list, that's pretty quick process. If you have more than 200 guests, I'd segment it by last name (have a big sign that can be positioned overhead that says A-L and M-Z). If you need them to register, fill out paper work, confirm sessions, etc. then you're going to have to have more helpers to get people through the process.
Have people paid? If people are paying for the event on-site, you should have more staff to help handle money, and a separate line for those who don't have to pay or who have paid in advance. This helps people who have done all their due diligence prior to the event get into the event quicker, and clears space in your registration area so that others don't feel quite so overwhelmed.
Have a help desk. If someone is insisting that they paid or they're insisting that they signed up, direct them to a desk a bit further away where a higher-level event organizer can assist them. Often, this person will have more information and you can get the person who doesn't have all their ducks in a row some personal attention without the rest of the line being held up.
Think about in-line entertainment. If you have a security process or people need to wait for a while, think about having some sort of entertainment like a singing group, a magician, food and drinks, or simply the host of the event coming out to talk to line-standers.
Consider a mobile check-in system for the easiest to check-in. Mobile check ins can be awesome because your staff can stand up and walk through the registration line. This is a really great way to make it quick, especially if people aren't picking anything up. You can then have a smaller table where people can grab their name tags and the process goes super smoothly.
Have you ever been to an event (a concert, tradeshow, conference, retreat) where the check in process was spot on? Let me know why it was great below!