Visitor Management System
While visitor management has long been a critical consideration in the modern workplace, now is an even more important time for a simple yet secure way of managing visitors and contractors. Companies need to invest in visitor management technology if they want to meet expectations for staff/customer safety and convenience.
But where do we start? Find out all the basics about visitor management systems — what they are, the most common types, what businesses can benefit from them, and how to improve your visitor management experience.
Table of Contents
- What Is Visitor Management?
- Who Can Use a Visitor Management System?
- Types of Visitor Management Systems
- Visitor Management Software
- Integrated Visitor Management Systems
- Front Desk Check-In
- Visitor Management Kiosks
- Benefits of Visitor Management Systems
- Enhance Business Security
- Sign-In Efficiency
- Compile and Store Visitor Data
- Facilitates Emergency Evacuation
- Visitor Logs
- Reduce Overhead
- Visitor Satisfaction and Building Reputation
- Visitor Management System Features
- Best Practices for Using a Visitor Management System
- 1. Align Visitor Management With Your Overall Security Goals
- 2. Collect Information at Visitor Intake
- 3. Plan How to Get Visitors Out
- 4. Train Staff to Manage Visitors During an Emergency
- 5. Integrate With Existing Security Systems
- 6. Employ Centralized User Management
- 7. Analyze Visitor Management Data
- 8. Review and Optimize Your Security Visitor Management Systems
- What Is a Visitor Management System?
- Why Is Visitor Management Important?
- What Are the Main Reasons Why Organizations Need a Visitor Management Solution?
- Who Uses Visitor Management Software?
What Is Visitor Management?
Visitor management is the process of welcoming and tracking visitors, employees, and anyone else within your premises. By anyone else, we mean clients, couriers, interviewees, contractors, consultants, and even family members of employees.
A visitor management system is a technology that governs this process. It is a digital alternative or a supplement to traditional visitor records. Whenever you have a visit to your building, campus, or even a piece of land, you keep an eye on who enters and what they do.
Let’s take an example in the healthcare sector. The software can pre-screen visitors with a custom questionnaire. Afterward, the system can store information about temperature scanning and patient room capacity limits all the way to a check-out process. Everything can be done without high-maintenance hardware or outdated paper passes.
Who Can Use a Visitor Management System?
Visitor management can help any organization keep track of the people that visit their location. Below, we’ll go through some industries that can benefit most from visitor management software:
- Educational services
- Heavy and civil engineering
- Transportation and logistics
- Commercial and residential real estate
- Retail and distribution
- Machinery and equipment
- Biotech and pharmaceuticals
- Aerospace and defense
- Financial services
- Culture, media, and creative
- Oil and gas
- Renewable energy
- Luxury goods
Types of Visitor Management Systems
Visitor management systems can look different depending on where they’re used. For some industries, it means simply collecting the visitor’s name; for others, there are stricter requirements, like badges, legal documents, employee escorts, etc.
Let’s now focus on how this broad technology can be implemented in workspaces.
Visitor Management Software
Visitor management software is a comprehensive solution that became so popular that it is synonymous with all visitor management systems. VMS has two main modes of operation:
- Cloud-based visitor management: This is a centralized solution that allows you to access visitor data on all types of devices (desktop computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones). The main benefits of cloud-hosted software are accessibility, timely updates, a simpler onboarding process, and affordability.
- On-premise visitor management: This system utilizes the company's networks and stores data on local equipment. On-premise visitor management software is better suited for larger organizations with sufficient resources to manage everything on-site with their own specialists. The benefits of the software are greater security and control, and the limitations include implementation and maintenance costs, additional training, and higher risks of system malfunction.
Integrated Visitor Management Systems
Integrated visitor management systems allow you to connect VMS with access control systems. You choose the level of access your employees and guests can receive. After registration, they’ll be automatically granted the right permissions to your space through compatible readers, locks, and controllers.
For example, the module can provide security and reception staff with information about a certain visitor. When the attendee arrives, they can instantly be greeted personally (by a relevant staff member) and directed to the right place.
Front Desk Check-In
This is a digital receptionist that works at a front desk or lobby. Depending on what the visitor is signing in for, they will have access to information about wayfinding, room scheduling, desk booking, and more – all without human interaction. But using the software does not make the guest’s stay impersonal. In fact, it creates more meaningful links with your visitors.
Visitor Management Kiosks
These are self-serving check-in and check-out kiosks that can be placed indoors or outdoors. Visitors can be provided with printed passes and tickets even before they enter the building, filtering out restricted users. The kiosks can also be used as a digital wayfinder, display, and feedback kiosk.
In the hard-to-navigate health crisis, the software can be used to track occupancy and footfall, diminish waiting times, and send a notification when the venue reaches maximum occupancy to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
Benefits of Visitor Management Systems
In 2021, services that require face-to-face interactions may be restrained. But the world is slowly getting back to normal, and the demand for visitor management is also picking up. Let’s look at the main value-adding characteristics that visitor management can bring.
Enhance Business Security
A visitor management system doesn’t replace other security programs, but it can significantly reduce your risk of unwanted outsiders. Your premises, your equipment, and your information will only be available for authorized people.
Such software implements multiple security-enhancing features:
- Visitor records
- Visitor badges with a photo, the person they are visiting, and expiration date
- Signature capture
- Message forwarding
- And a lot more
Visitor management allows for a really quick and easy way of signing in and out of sites or building zones.
Let’s say you have a kiosk or some sort of similar equipment in which a visitor or a group of visitors only need to tap the screen to enter their details. If they are pre-registered, checked with access control, and expected by the staff, they can simply scan a QR code.
In a similar fashion, returning visitors can also enjoy a quicker registration process. The system will remember their name, the date and purpose of their last visit, and who they were interacting with.
Compile and Store Visitor Data
VMS can capture important information, forming a clear record of visits. At the same time, it makes it easier to receive consent for data collection and storage, informing a visitor of relevant legal procedures and confidentiality rules. All visitors, employees, and contractors can be sure you have shown due diligence and complied with regulatory requirements.
From a business perspective, you will have more data to analyze and use for future decision-making.
Facilitates Emergency Evacuation
If you have a centralized, updated database with contact details of all visitors on your premises, everyone can be quickly notified in the event of an emergency. In addition to a simple alert, you can also provide instructions on what to do.
For efficient evacuation, it’s helpful to keep track of cleared zones, view help requests, and monitor evacuation progress in real-time. After the fact, post-emergency reporting will point out communication, mustering, and evacuation specifics for evaluation.
The benefits of keeping a visitor log are as varied as organizations themselves. Without the extra time and trouble, the company will have data of comings and goings at all times. In addition to just visits, the logs might contain some form of identification provided the person accepted the terms and conditions.
Some insights that can be gained from visitor logs include:
- The average length of a visitor’s stay
- The busiest times for guests
- Effect of different opening/closing times on visitor arrivals and departures
- Events that draw the most visitors
The software is likely to lead to enhanced productivity and efficiency for staff. For example, if they don’t have to deal with traditional in-person visitor management, they can focus on other tasks that require their immediate involvement.
It doesn’t mean all guest-related tasks must be automated. It simply eliminates the need for repetitive, meaningless tasks. The staff will pick up the interaction only when there is a solid reason to do so.
Visitor Satisfaction and Building Reputation
Lastly, visitor management systems take much of the human error out of the equation. Unlike paper-based systems and outdated software, front desk teams aren’t overwhelmed with rich data.
The software handles a portion of administrative work and presents the output when it’s ready. The staff then properly welcomes visitors, depending on the purpose of the visit. Such a seamless, personalized approach improves visitor satisfaction.
VMS can also predict visitor traffic. The team will be better prepared to receive and welcome visitors during busy hours.
Visitor Management System Features
Before you choose any visitor management system, you need to answer the following questions (in regard to your unique situation):
- How do visitors interact with our facilities? It could be reservations/bookings, check-in/check-out solutions, welcome process, wayfinding, permissions, access to Wi-Fi.
- What data does our system handle?
- How many visitors do we get on average?
- What kinds of reports and statistics do we need?
- What additional tasks can our team handle?
- How do we define ROI?
After you determine what you’re looking for, you’ll be on the right track to an investment that will serve you. Here are important features of a visitor management platform that you need to address one by one:
- Data security and user privacy: VMS gives you the first line of defense against physical theft and loss of proprietary and confidential data. But anytime you collect data, your organization must also be GDPR-compliant. Fundamentals of GDPR include visitor’s consent, transparency of use, and guarantee against external threats.
- Notification and communication capability: Employees can get instant notifications when they have a visitor, a particular visitor is denied access, or if there is an ongoing evacuation (can be applied to everyone in the building). Employees’ movements can also be monitored by management.
- Customizable workflows: The software can differentiate between activities and enroll different protocols for each case. It can be for a customer, contractor, delivery driver, or personal guest.
- Visitor experience: A visitor management program can replace paperwork, create a touch-free, hygienic environment, minimize the risk of unwanted exposure, ensure an automatic and wireless ID system, etc., thus, improving the overall experience.
- Compliance management: Centralizing compliance records in a cloud-based platform comes in handy when a person does not comply with the requirements of their visit. For example, VMS can store legal documents such as non-disclosure agreements, on-site rules, waivers, etc.
- Integration options: Your organization can easily find complementary solutions for visitor management, such as access control systems, digital ID software, video intercom, surveillance systems, and more.
- Reports and insights: The system can grant you access to the following information: visitor by host, visit by reason, visitor books registration type, pattern reporting, headcount, visitor feedback. All of this can be analyzed to determine whether the system can be improved in some ways for workers or visitors.
Best Practices for Using a Visitor Management System
As you transition from paper logs and manual processes, there are a few ways you can simplify the process. Below are 8 practices that allow you to enhance the success and productivity of visitor management.
1. Align Visitor Management With Your Overall Security Goals
The security plan details the security goals, how security risk management intersects with broader business objectives, possible threats, risks, and vulnerabilities regarding people, information, and assets. Where does a visitor management system fit in all this?
As we’ve mentioned, VMS can serve different purposes. So, you want the newly integrated solution to answer your needs.
Do you want to prevent unattended personnel from accessing a certain location? Then you might want to enhance your VMS with facial recognition. But more on integrations later.
2. Collect Information at Visitor Intake
Use your visitor management system to amplify your data. When a visitor checks in, their registration data is saved in the cloud software or your on-premise servers. It can contain:
- Phone number
- Emergency phone number
- Visiting date and time
- Estimated time of the visit
- Staff member(s) assigned to them
- Publicly available health information, such as temperature during the visit
3. Plan How to Get Visitors Out
A warm welcome is one thing, but a safe evacuation is a whole other realm of requirements. We’ve already touched on that point, but it’s important to highlight its importance once again.
The biggest challenge of emergency plans is accounting for everyone:
- Full-time employees, shift workers, apprentices, and trainees;
- Contact workers that aren’t listed as official staff;
- Service technicians and delivery people;
- Guests, customers, VIPs, and staff family members.
Luckily, proper use of a visitor management system helps take care of that.
4. Train Staff to Manage Visitors During an Emergency
A visitor isn’t responsible for evacuation plans — your staff is. You’ll need to figure out who’s in charge of making sure they’re carried out smoothly and train those employees. There are a few models you can use:
- A dedicated security staff member that conducts evacuation drills and manages safety sweeps. While training just one person saves time, it might not be enough if you have a large building.
- Specialist-combo-employee that normally works for human resources, office administration, or even customer service. Consider splitting these duties among at least a few staffers.
- The group effort of having everyone trained and ready. It is a more resource-intensive task, but it sure pays off if an emergency does happen.
5. Integrate With Existing Security Systems
You can convert a multi-layered security system into one integrated solution. Visitor management systems become more efficient with other technology and equipment in place, such as:
- Barcode & QR code scanners
- Hand sanitizer dispensers
- Temperature check cameras
- Biometric readers
If you have some old security software that’s underused, it’s the perfect time to adapt them to the new security system. For example, a visitor management platform coupled with high-end and reliable ID scanners will deliver a holistic and secure visitor management experience.
6. Employ Centralized User Management
Centralized user and visitor management reduce operational complexities and lets each worker use what is best for them. How? It allows employees and visitors to have the flexibility they need when choosing whatever resources are right for them, but the organization controls user access centrally.
Such a system doesn’t dictate interactions, movements, and other activities but makes it possible to place limitations and encourage smoother paths.
7. Analyze Visitor Management Data
Visitor behavior analysis involves keeping track of the quality of your service and the staff’s performance, looking at website visitors’ on-site behavior, figuring out experience breakages, and communicating with individual visitors for feedback and suggestions. Turn it into actionable recommendations for employees and technicians responsible for the tech.
Visitor analysis also gives you a clear picture of how critical areas like the entrance, first encounter with the staff, line of other customers, and so on are performing in terms of keeping visitors on your premises and meeting their needs.
For example, what if there is a specific location that regularly denies access to visitors? Maybe you need to assign a staff member to that location, or there is a potential intruder attempting to access a vulnerable location.
8. Review and Optimize Your Security Visitor Management Systems
The times are changing, the patterns of visits may change, along with regulatory requirements, team composition, and many other factors. All of this requires you to constantly be alert and adjust your visitor management to meet new conditions.
But even if everything stays exactly the same, don’t miss the opportunity to provide a better experience and protect your visitors and your business.
Investing in digital visitor management systems lets companies elevate facility safety and compliance. At the same time, it also reduces overheads and administration costs. If you want to have a clear overview of visitors on-site at any given time, there are many different options you can go for — from simple check-ins to integrated solutions.
Now that you know the benefits and recommended practices for visitor management, our last piece of advice is about customization. Make sure the software in place answers your specific needs and goals, and it can be adapted as your company grows and becomes more complex.
What Is a Visitor Management System?
A visitor management system represents all the processes and activities that companies put in place to register and track each person coming into their facility. It follows protocols for clients, partners, consultants, remote workers, interns, and others that the company specifies in advance. Such a system can record visitor’s usage of the facilities and their whereabouts.
Why Is Visitor Management Important?
Every business is responsible for ensuring safety for everyone on their premises. And by implementing tracking solutions, you keep a record of visitors, direct facility traffic, improve visitor confidence, and create a safety framework within the building/site.
What Are the Main Reasons Why Organizations Need a Visitor Management Solution?
Some of the reasons are:
- Proactivity — A visitor management system helps prevent security incidents, like minimizing the chance of an undesirable person entering.
- Compliance — In some cases, it allows facilities to stay compliant with rules and government regulations.
- Costs — Companies can significantly boost their ROI (e.g., due to reducing the frequency of incidents).
- Communication — There is an accessible trail of all visitor movements.
- Integration — Visitor management easily integrates with other systems.
Who Uses Visitor Management Software?
Due to the efficiency, security, and personalization of a visitor management system, it can be adapted to many industries. Some of the most common ones are education (schools & universities), corporate office buildings, the medical sector (doctor offices & hospitals), and hospitality (hotels & restaurants).