What Are the Best Ways to Manage Visitors?

Effectively manage visitors with these top strategies: streamline registration, issue visitor badges, utilize visitor management software, provide clear signage, offer orientation, enforce escort policies, ensure security measures, educate on emergency procedures, gather feedback, communicate guidelines, provide designated parking, and train staff. Optimize visitor experiences while prioritizing safety and organization.

Different organizations handle visitors in various ways. Some use receptionists, others rely on security guards or locked doors, and some have informal systems.

What’s the best approach? While it varies based on each organization’s needs, there are common pros and cons to these methods. This article explores these options and offers best practices applicable to any approach.

Here are options for managing visitors effectively:

  1. Dedicated Receptionist
  2. Semi-Dedicated Receptionist
  3. Unofficial Receptionist
  4. Security Guard
  5. Visitor Management Check-In Software

Exploring Methods of Visitor Management

What are some of the different visitor management systems used by different companies? Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is worth taking the time to explore each one to see what is right for your organization.

Dedicated Receptionist

A dedicated receptionist is someone whose main job is to welcome and guide guests. For instance, they might be the person checking you in at a hotel or museum, helping you at an information desk in a tourist spot, or assisting visitors at a hospital.

Advantages of having a dedicated receptionist include:

  • Consistent presence: Knowing there’s always someone at the desk ensures visitors won’t find it empty when they arrive.
  • Friendly welcome: Being greeted by someone trained to be welcoming adds a nice personal touch to your visit.
  • Human help: Sometimes, it’s easier for visitors to ask a real person questions rather than looking for information themselves. If someone just needs directions, they can ask the receptionist.

However, there are some disadvantages to having a dedicated receptionist:

  • Expensive: Hiring someone solely for greeting visitors can be costly for organizations. Many prefer staff who can do multiple tasks. A receptionist who can’t leave their post can’t help with other jobs.
  • Not always needed: Some organizations don’t have enough visitors to justify a dedicated receptionist. While every organization has visitors, the number and type might not make a full-time receptionist necessary. It could be seen as a waste to have someone sitting at a desk all day if there are only a few visitors.

Semi-Dedicated Receptionist

A semi-dedicated receptionist is someone who greets guests along with handling other tasks. They might be an office manager, administrative assistant, or similar role. These folks do phone calls, plan meetings, order stuff, and manage events, alongside welcoming visitors.

Advantages:

  • Flexibility: Semi-dedicated receptionists can handle more tasks effectively, making good use of their time.
  • Human Touch: Having a person to greet visitors warmly with a smile and handshake makes guests feel welcome.

Disadvantages:

  • Cost: Hiring an administrative assistant or office manager can be more expensive than an untrained receptionist.
  • Interruptions: Juggling various tasks means interruptions from visitors can disrupt their workflow, reducing efficiency.
  • Absences: With more responsibilities, they may be pulled away for meetings or events, leaving visitors confused at an empty desk.

Unofficial Receptionist

Ever been in an office without a receptionist? If so, you’ve probably seen the unlucky person who sits near the door having to help all the visitors. At Visitdesk, we call this person the “reception-ish.” If they’re good with people and not too busy, it might not be a big deal. But it can make things inefficient.

Advantages
There aren’t really any clear advantages to this method. Sure, you might save money by not paying a receptionist, but it could cost more in other ways.

Disadvantages
The downsides to this visitor management method are pretty big.

Lost Productivity: It might seem cheaper not to pay a receptionist and just let the nearest person deal with visitors. But it can actually cost the organization more in the long run because the interrupted employee can’t focus on their main work.
Hard Feelings: The person who gets interrupted might feel annoyed at the visitors. This could make them act negatively towards both the organization and the visitors. If it’s a shared workspace and the interrupted person is a member, they might think about going somewhere else.
Poor Visitor Experience: Visitors who have to search for someone might think your organization isn’t very professional. If they come across an employee with a bad attitude, it can leave a bad impression of the organization.

Security Guard

For those who have a mind toward security issues, a security guard posted at the door might be a strong consideration. In many ways, this is just another form of dedicated receptionist, albeit a specialized one.

Advantages:

Extra Training: Security guards undergo additional training to handle unwelcome guests, spot suspicious behavior, and manage emergencies effectively.

Professional Appearance: Security guards project a professional image, reassuring visitors of their safety. However, their presence can deter potential troublemakers.

Disadvantages:

Cost: Employing a security guard as a receptionist can be more expensive than hiring a regular receptionist. Although their salaries are similar, specialized training and experience can increase costs, making it a costly option for some organizations.

Suspicion: The professional appearance of security guards may make even law-abiding visitors uneasy. They might question the necessity of heightened security and feel scrutinized.

Visitor Management Check-In Software

Advantages:

  • Always available: Visitor check-in kiosks are always ready, unlike human receptionists who might get busy or step away. With multiple kiosks, they can handle many visitors in busy offices.
  • Data collection: Kiosks store visitor data in the cloud, useful for analysis. You can learn busy visitor days, follow up with job candidates, or track who did what.
  • Active guests: Letting guests check themselves in keeps them engaged and ensures accurate information entry.
  • Rule compliance: Kiosks enforce rules consistently, like requiring contact info or agreements.
  • Automatic host notifications: Some systems can alert hosts automatically, saving receptionists time.

Disadvantages:

  • Cost: While kiosks save on staffing costs, they can still be pricey, especially high-quality ones.
  • Impersonal: Some people find kiosks cold compared to human interaction. As self-serve tech grows, opinions may shift, but for now, some prefer the personal touch.

Which Visitor Management System Is Right for You?

Choosing the right visitor management system depends on what your organization needs. Generally, combining an electronic system with a human receptionist gives you the benefits of both: good record-keeping, security, and a personal touch.

Good Practices for Managing Visitors

Whether you have a human receptionist, an electronic system, or both, certain techniques make the process smooth and organized.

Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Pre-register visitors: Some places ask hosts to pre-register their guests. This makes sure visitors get parking passes and clearance before they arrive. It might also mean asking for ID to confirm their identity. This helps in welcoming expected guests warmly.
  2. Visitor logs: Keeping a record of visitors is important. Getting their name, contact info, and when they check in and out is useful for security and records. Electronic logs work better than paper ones.
  3. Notify the host: It’s important to tell the host as soon as their guest arrives. But sometimes it’s hard to reach them. Electronic systems can notify hosts based on their preferences, like phone or email.

In Conclusion-

The ideal visitor management system is effective. It greets your guests, swiftly collects their details, and ensures they proceed smoothly. It enhances workplace security and minimizes disruptions for your employees while controlling expenses. Crucially, it’s user-friendly, ensuring consistent and happy usage by you, your team, and your visitors.