Perfecting the Check-In

Splash is a platform that helps event marketing teams seamlessly launch and scale sophisticated event programs. I lead a team of 4 mobile developers to launch the Splash Host App that helped check-in over 100,000 guests during the Pope Francis' visit to New York City in 2015.


How Can We Become the Event Planner's Most Dependable Assistant?

Splash needed help with their mobile apps that event planners use during events. Event planners needed a better way to check-in guests since smooth, timely, and accurate check-ins set a good first impression with guests and are critical in transforming event data into actionable insights.


Volunteering to See the Pain Points

In order to understand the nuances of the check-in process, I volunteered to work the door at 3 events before ever personally initiating any designs. Working the events helped me connect with the current event marketing teams using the app and really empathize with the issues they often experience in the field.

Connectivity issues are a serious problem

The first event I attended was in an underground bar with a very poor internet connection. Unfortunately, because I didn't load the guest list before the event, I had difficulty showing the most recent guests that were added to the list and also experienced issues checking guests in.

Speed is key to preventing traffic jams

People tend to come to events in waves. Making sure we can get them through the door as quickly as possible will not only make the guests happier, but also reduce the stress of our users checking in these guests since they can see the line slowly diminishing instead of growing.

Scanning is faster than searching names

Asking for someone’s name during check-in can cause delays because names can be difficult to spell or hard to hear in noisy environments. The current app had two different types of events: ticketed and RSVP. The beauty of ticketed events is the ability to scan a ticket's barcode which avoids any miscommunication at the door.

Creating a Single, Seamless Experience

Originally, Splash maintained two separate mobile apps that weren't updated for months. After analyzing both apps, my team quickly realized that both apps were largely identical  except for a few features and customizations. My team decided to combine the functionality into a single app to reduce development time and continued maintenance.

Bringing it Together with Swift

Since we knew we were going to combine both apps, we saw this as a perfect opportunity to rewrite the app from the ground up using Swift. We determined which features we were going to keep by mapping them out at every step of the app.

Optimizing for Offline Access

We made the transition between online and offline seamless by allowing users to save guest list data on their devices so they can still check-in guests even when they don't have a reliable connection. Once the user is back online, all of the check-in data is synced and updated.

Speeding Up the Line with Barcode Scanning

We knew that scanning a barcode on a ticket was much faster and more reliable than searching for a person's name on a guest list. Now all events, including the RSVP events that didn't include them previously, could take advantage of the barcode option to help speed up the lines.

Maximizing to Measure Event Success

We know how busy our event planners are and wanted to make sure that the app always had a quick way to showcase event metrics at a glance. Although previous apps largely centered around just check-in, we wanted to make sure the new app made it easy to measure event success through the addition of the gallery and insights.

Creating the Perfect Guest List

We spent most of our time creating the perfect guest list since this was the most crucial part about measuring an event's success. Besides optimizing for quicker check-ins with barcode scanning, we also allowed users to invite and add guests to the guest list which was previously  only available through the desktop tool. We also allowed the users pick sessions which would only allow certain guests to be checked-in depending on location or time.

Increasing Gallery Engagement with Hashtags

We already had the ability to capture photos through the app but realized that this feature was being underutilized. We knew that having photos for follow-up emails or to use in future promotions was important, and we wanted to make it even easier for event planners to add images to the gallery. We introduced the ability for users to search and follow their event #hashtags so they could easily add photos from those hashtags.

Surfacing Helpful Insights

Event planners already had plenty of things to keep track of. We wanted to introduce insights to help our event planners figure what to do next in order to maximize their results.

Scaling the App to 100,000 Check-Ins

Splash has powered massive events for Budweiser, but the Papal Procession through Central Park was, by far, the biggest event to date. In order to make sure the app was prepared for such a large event, we spent a couple of weeks testing inside Central Park to make sure that offline syncing was seamless since data connectivity with so many people could become a real problem. The Splash team worked side-by-side with members of Mayor de Blasio’s administration, NYPD, TSA, and 125 volunteers to check-in over 100,000 guests during the Pope's visit to New York. Thankfully all the preparation and staff made the event a huge success, and the app had no trouble keeping up with the continuous check-ins.


Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of individuals to pull off one of the largest events in New York City. Without the help of our team and the hundreds of volunteers, there was no way we could have succeeded in an event at this scale. Some other valuable lessons:

See Pain Points First Hand

It was invaluable to volunteer at the events to understand the pain points and understand where we needed to focus on.

Explore More Ways to Measure Engagement

One area I wish we had spent more time on was being able to measure engagement. We introduced the gallery but seeing where else we can help Event Marketing teams measure and track engagement would be the next step.

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