On the surface managing visitors and managing meetings, room bookings and catering doesn’t have a lot in common. The systems are usually operated by different users, have different stakeholders, and solve different challenges. But they aren’t necessarily as unrelated as you might think.
So why do you need to make visitor management an integrated part of your meeting scheduling process?
While many visitors are invited to an office building with the purpose of attending a meeting, there’s a tendency for organizations to think of visitor management and meeting scheduling as separate things, when they are actually connected.
For instance, when you plan a meeting you need to book a meeting room. This is obviously a meeting related activity.
You also have to send invitations to external participants and register the arrival of your guests with the reception and security personnel. These are obviously visitor management related activities.
But something happens when you change your meeting room booking to a larger room, or move your meeting to a different time.
This is supposedly a meeting related activity, because it has to do with the meeting room booking, right? But you also have to inform all external meeting participants of the changes, and you need to notify the front desk and security of any changes in arrivals as well.
Suddenly, changing your meeting room booking becomes part of the visitor management process too.
The biggest challenge for traditional visitor management methods is that they rely on manual processes and lack the efficiency and coordination that modern businesses require.
The key drawbacks related to conventional visitor management approaches include:
Having to wait in line at a reception desk to manually sign in makes for a poor visitor experience
Filling out paperwork, visitor logbooks, and manual data entry is a time-consuming process that further slows the check-in process
The responsibility of managing visitor information and paperwork diverts the attention of receptionists and administrative staff from other important tasks and can be a drain on their productivity
Capturing and managing comprehensive visitor information manually is near impossible and limits the ability to personalize visitor experiences or provide the necessary security information
Without a centralized system to manage visitor access it becomes difficult to track and monitor visitor movements
Manual invitation processes will lead to confusion when visitors arrive for a meeting only to find out the meeting has been moved to a different part of the facility, or a different building, or that it has been canceled altogether.
Overall, traditional visitor management processes suffer from a range of inefficiencies and can cause potential issues, most of which are the direct result of human error.
This can negatively impact both the visitor experience and the productivity of an organization.
A solution to many of these issues comes when you integrate your visitor management software with your meeting scheduling processes, as it automates a number of workflows and removes the potential for human error.
Integrating your visitor management system with the tools you use to schedule meetings has some obvious benefits in the form of reducing the number of systems users have to use to host a meeting.
But there are a number of other benefits which makes the process of integrating the two systems worthwhile:
Enhanced visitor experiences.
Integrating your visitor management software with a meeting room scheduling system like Planner lets you automate almost every manual process related to managing visitors who come to your office to participate in a meeting.
A normal process for inviting external guests to a meeting looks something like this:
You send an invitation to the external participant
You inform the front desk of their arrival, usually with information about who they are and when they’ll arrive
Either the meeting host or the receptionist needs to inform any security personnel, so they can take the proper precautions
The reception (or the host) needs to provide the guest with information around parking, entrance procedures and any documents they need to review beforehand
When the visitor arrives they need to check in at the reception
The reception needs to notify the meeting host that their visitor has arrived
And the host needs to go to the reception to greet their visitor.
But with a proper integration between the two systems you could automate steps two through six.
When it comes to integrating your visitor management software with your meeting room booking system there is definitely a cost saving element to it.
Just like a good meeting room booking system can shave hours off of everyday manual tasks related to planning a meeting, integrating your visitor management software a tool like Planner will do the same.
Checking in a visitor can take up to three minutes per visitor, and that only includes activities like collecting visitor information, issuing visitor’s badges and notifying hosts that their guests arrive - all of which could be handled automatically as part of integrating the two systems.
Imagine coming to your office as a visitor, having to wait in line as you show up because the receptionist is handling check in for another visitor, and then waiting again after you’ve been checked in, because your host needs to come down and get you.
Would this be a good first impression?
Not integrating your visitor management software with your meeting scheduling results in an increased wait time for all visitors arriving at your offices.
And in addition to decreasing wait times, integrating the two systems will also let you tailor visitor experiences to different types of visitors and streamline your entire process which in turn contributes to creating a better overall impression of your company.
When you start the process of integrating your visitor management software with your meeting scheduling processes, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind.
Selecting compatible solutions is the most important part of successfully integrating the two systems. So, make sure you select solutions that are designed to work well together or that have integration capabilities.
Bonus tip: Find a software provider that offers either an open API or pre-built integrations to create a seamless data exchange between the two systems.
There’s no point in integrating the two systems if you need to manually synchronize data between them. So make sure you get the automatic synchronization working as one of the first things you do.
Bonus tip: Make sure the integration provides real time data updates. If a meeting is scheduled or modified in your meeting scheduling software it needs to be reflected by the visitor management software immediately.
Notifying the receptionists and security personnel before the arrival of a guest shouldn’t be something the host does manually, and notifying the host that their guest has arrived shouldn’t be handled manually by the receptionist.
Setting up the systems to automatically send notifications to the reception when a guest is invited and to inform the host when a guest arrives should be top priority.
Bonus tip: Allowing hosts or receptionists to send simple communications to guests can further enhance the visitor experience and improve your overall building safety. This could be sending alerts to visitors' devices, making it easy to coordinate or provide updates during the visit.
Keeping your visitor management separate from your other systems and processes just doesn’t cut it anymore, which is why traditional methods of managing guests and visitors are becoming a thing of the past.
Integrating your visitor management and meeting scheduling software can affect both the overall impression visitors and employees have of your organization as well as the bottom line of your business itself.
So, the real question isn’t if you should integrate your visitor management and meeting scheduling, but how you are going to do it. Are you going to integrate your current systems, or will you be looking for an integrated visitor management platform that does both?