Event guest contact tracing


The ultimate checklist

This is the most recent step-by-step checklist for event guest contact tracing.

It provides insights into the preparations and learnings from the first events held under the influence of Covid-19. We are covering all phases from ticket sales & event guest registration to  QR-code accreditation and contactless Check-in & check-out.

If you are looking for best practices and a checklist, this is what you get.

Let`s get started!

contact tracing

Why contact tracing is not difficult

As always it is just a matter of having the right tools at hand.

According to studies in 2018 and 2019, about 50% of event hosts and organisers did not have such tools in place.

2019 Research study by EventMB Studio (www.eventmanagerblog.com)

These numbers are fundamentally changing, and that is positive for both hosts and guests.

Covid-19 thankfully brought most hesitation towards digitalisation in the event sector to an end.

Because the most criticial topics mentioned in the survey below, can be solved fairly easily. It is merely a matter of motivation & execution.

Event tech frustation survey

Especially looking at all-in-one solutions will decrease cost and efforts for all involved parties.

We understand why 25% think eventtech is too expensive. For the same reason we introduced a pricing model that is transparent & useful. But let’s leave self-marketing aside.

As you can see from the numbers in the survey below, in 2018 and 2019 all-in-one solutions were only used by roughly one third of event organisers.

Due to Covid-19 requirements such as

  • data handling
  • data security
  • GDPR
  • contact tracing

these topics are taken more seriously and if managed in a single solution will be much easier to meet.

all-in-one event software

So let us continue and take a deep dive into the contact tracing topic.


bubble zones
Chapter 1

Bubble & zone concept

guest messaging
Chapter 2

Guest & staff communication

Chapter 3

Online registration & ticketing

contactless badge and wristband
Chapter 4

Accreditation & Access control

Chapter 5

Controlling the zone-based bubble

Chapter 6

Recording location-based data


Bubble & zone concept

We are using the example of sports events, because they are probably more complex in comparison to a conference or fair.

This is mainly due to the increased safety requirements for athletes, shielding them off from direct social contacts with untested persons completely.

In any case, this checklist works for all types of events.

Start with the design of
  1. Guest & staff groups
  2. Different zones for the venue

Design needs to start before online registration & ticket sales go live. Otherwise you would not be able to meet individual booking & registration requirements.

Permission matrix example

Take a look at the example graphic of a group & zone concept, using different badge prints & wristband colours. Most of the customers we meet have more than double or triple the amount of badges, colours and wristbands shown here.

Obviously this matrix is complex to prepare, execute and communicate to security guards. And this is how most bigger events still work today.

When using contactless chips, such complexity is eliminated for the better. Technology in the 21st century has more to offer.

Let us look at how to get there!

event permission matrix

How to design your group concept

Groups (or roles) define a persons access permission for each zone at the venue.

Permissions need to be designed & assigned in your event management software before ticket sales, online registration or guest import starts. You can still change things later on, but the basis needs to be clean.

Define groups for all the different roles of people entering the venue.

Depending on how many groups you end up with, consider consolidating groups with identical permissions.

We suggest starting with a simple excel sheet like this one to plan your group permissions.

You can download this template here.

List all the different groups in vertical order and all zones in horizontal order.

A good role example is Catering. You might have different companies doing the catering (cooks, waiters, bar tenders) and they can be combined into a single group, because they all have the same access permissions.

Another example is the media group. Journalists, bloggers & streamers normally fit well into one group.

In general you should work towards group consolidation to simplify management. This should not harm your detailed reporting as you will be able to combine reporting filters for group, company and similar parameters.

Individual permissions & exceptions:
There will always be exceptions for individual persons who need access to a zone, which their assigned group permission does not grant by default. The event software of your choice should make it easy to support such exceptions. From our experience exceptions are in the range of 5-15%.

How to design your zone concept

A zone is best described as an area that requires specific permissions to enter. Good examples are

  • VIP area
  • media room
  • players lounge
  • backstage
  • stage or court area

You will be enforcing and recording all entrances & exits for each zone.

The more zones you define, the more granular your contact tracing records will be. Create a list of all zones in horizontal order of the excel sheet.

You certainly need to make sure pathways to these zones are accessible for the permitted groups. Using a detailed venue map will be the best basis to plan your zones, in case it is a big location.

Now simply fill each cell of your excel permission matrix that requires a groups permission.
When finished, reevaluate all groups considering a consolidation.


Guest & staff communication

Communication is key.
Before, during and after the event.

The first step to prevent infections is to eliminate queuing (entrance, bar, merch shop).

Communicate all Covid-19 rules several times to make sure 90% have read them.

Use Website, email, push messaging and big signs.
The more people know, the better the flow.

Here is a list of topics to consider:

  • Covid-19 behavioral requirements
    • Pickup slots for badges, wristbands or tickets
    • Entrance times & slots per group
    • Specific paths to follow
    • Handling of food & beverages
    • Mask requirements inside the venue
  • Real-time info during the event
    • Opening and closing of specific entrances
    • Slot assignment to different groups
      • Food pick-up, usage of lavatories, exiting the venue, entrance to parking lot, etc
    • Agenda & schedule updates
  • After event info
    • Infection updates to specific guest groups based on contact tracing
    • Let guests know they are safe if no infection was reported
guest messaging

Ways of communication

There should be at least two possible ways of communication with your guests & staff.

  • Email (mainly before & after the event)
  • (Push) notification, SMS (during the event), Event (Web)App

Since you require all guests and staff to register before the event or latest at the event, there will be no problem collecting all email addresses.

Focus on target group-based communication. Your all-in-one event management platform must allow this, simple & straightforward.

For real-time communication many event organisers have been looking at event apps to satisfy their needs.
Take a second and think about this approach. Did you ever install an app when visiting an event? +80% of you will answer “No”.

Hence what you need is – a WebApp or so-called Progressive Web App.

It looks and behaves like an app, but does not need to be installed. When evaluating your event platform software, make sure a Guest WebApp is part of the package.

Read more about WebApps here:


Online registration & ticketing

You need to collect data of all people entering the venue, which includes both staff and guests.

Setting up an event registration page is a matter of minutes.

Most important is, that your event online registration & ticketing is built with the zone & group concept as a basis.

The more people you are hosting, the bigger the need for an optimized and automated registration process.

Everyone who registers online, should be placed in the correct group automatically. You do not want mess around placing people into different groups afterwards.

online registration

Two registration options will do this job for you

  1. Personalized invitation links
  2. Group registration links

Personal registration links work if you have obtained email addresses beforehand. In case you do not have a guests email address but name and other details already, you could deliver a personal registration code instead via SMS, physical invitation or any other messaging option.

But in most cases the easiest will be to provide a group registration link thats looks similar to this https://my.event.com/press. You can publish these links on your event website or have them distributed by admins in charge of guest or staff groups. They will then be responsible to verify all registrations, waiting lists and define maximum registration limits for each group.

Your registration form should at least contain

  • First & Last name
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Address (not mandatory, but useful especially for authorities in regard of quarantine or Covid-19 testing requirements)
  • Company (for all staff members)

Confirmation Email & Guest WebApp

The best way to communicate important info is via the confirmation email, sent to each registered guest.

You want to include

  • Personal details summary
  • Bookings summary
  • QR-code for fast checkin
  • Calendar file
  • Relevant Covid-19 info
  • Link to your Event WebApp

Accreditation & Access control

This is where it gets really crucial because you want to enforce your bubble and zone concept.

For some events accreditation & access control are two different steps.

When badges, wristbands or tickets are picked up before the event (hours or days before) we are talking about accreditation. It simply means we are documenting the pickup of credentials. Especially in regard to Covid-19 safety it makes sense to offer credentials pick-up before the event to speed up the check-in process when doors open.

The fastest way to handle check-in is using contactless NFC chips in your badges or wristbands. Not only because it works contactless, but also because it is super-fast and highly secure.

Here is an example for both.

contactless badge and wristband

The alternative contactless option is QR-code based check-in.

Even though QR-codes have some drawbacks, they are a good way to rapidly checkin people. Be aware that they can be duplicated easily, so everyone could try to use them and your securities might end up discussing at the front door when someone shows up with a code that has already been used.

Another drawback of QR-codes is the need for good lighting. Often if light is dim, reading QR-codes is a challenge for checkin scanners.

In best case your event software supplier offers not only a checkin app, but a checkin WebApp. Again, a WebApp is not only beneficial for guests but also for organisers because you can use your own devices and start right away, not having to care about App store accounts, app installation problems and similar issues.

Checkout option

Now the most import feature to look for is – a check-out option.

Without the ability to check people out, your contact tracing plan is flawed.

You want to know when someone enters an area and when she leaves it. Otherwise how would you trace the group of people who potentially got in contact with an infected person? You couldn’t, but would have to inform everyone who attended the event about a possible contact to an infected person. And that is not what you want to do.


Controlling the zone-based bubble concept

With your permission matrix at hand, you are in control.

You will create a checkin list for each zone and only add the permitted groups to it. We have used this approach works on multi-day events with tens of thousands of people, it works perfectly.

Use QR-codes, NFC badges/wristbands to control and record entrances & exits. Certainly, using NFC will be the most convenient and easy way to do so.

Important is, that your check-in system has off-line capability, otherwise you would be screwed if the network goes down. Having off-line capability means two things.

  • Checkin is still possible
  • Checkin devices will store the logs until the network is back again

Otherwise you could not evaluate who has entered and exited which zone at which point in time.

Your trustworthy event software certainly offers such features and also provides a live monitoring dashboard giving you the opportunity to constantly be on top of your game.

Live monitoring tells you immediately at which entrance you might

  • have an issue
  • need to increase staff or
  • change a setup

Using a live dashboard will change everything and your team will be super happy. Because by monitoring what is going on and where, they will be able to identify issues and act before they get a call or intercom message from their colleagues about a possible problem.

Sweet, isn’t it?


Recording location-based data

There are two ways to record the location of a person.

  1. At the checkpoint of an area
  2. Around the whole venue

For 1. you will be using the options already mentioned earlier

  • QR-code
  • Name

It means data is only recorded at the specific spot the checkin or checkout happened.

None of the mentioned options can provide location based monitoring that covers each square meter around the venue.

For such purpose you would either use video or bluetooth beacons, whereas both technologies are cumbersome to deploy. Especially if we are talking about a one time event. If you are owning a location hosting several events a year, it might make sense to deploy the required hardware (Bluetooth scanners, cameras, cabled network). Otherwise it would not be cost effective.

In the end the question is – what`s your target.

If contact tracing is the goal, the described setup with options from 1) are sufficient.

Because you want to know when someone entered an area, and when she left it.

This gives you enough information about who else was in the area at the same time.

location based reporting