How To Make Sure Your Audience Doesn’t Turn Into A Mob

There’s nothing worse than a large crowd of people with no clear direction. From unorganized lines to long waits to get into session rooms, audiences packed closely together for long periods of time can get restless, irritated and, eventually, destructive.

This kind of powder keg possibility in your audience usually happens in a few specific places, most notably the registration area, in areas outside popular presentations, and during networking events (often for drinks). While eliminating long lines will likely never happen for most events, read on for a few tips on how we’d handle the aforementioned situations before they overwhelm your staff and facilities.

Long Lines At Registration
Pre-printed badges, pre-made brochures and registration giveaways seem like a great value add for conference attendees. While some large events have the space to accommodate 5-25 lines, your audience likely won’t act as you hope. Last year’s SXSW again featured long waits for everything (though cholera didn’t break out) because of outdate organization techniques that required every registrant to wait in line for a badge.

Now, if everything went as planned and people showed up at staggered times, this idea is brilliant, but we all know that seldom happens. Because of this, we like to use mobile-based check ins to alleviate the long shuffle. This also works for small conferences with limited space, as staff can walk the lines scanning QR or bar codes instead of waiting for each person to make it to the desk.

Outside Popular Presentations
We’ve heard stories galore about the HOURS of waiting many attendees endure before popular Comic-Con panels. While organizers seem unwilling to set aside passes for each panel, perhaps a check-in system would be a better choice for these type of presentations.

Disneyland uses a Fast Pass system that allows riders to come back when the lines are lesser, which could work if organizers were willing to stage panels more than once throughout the day.

Lines For The Bar
Simplify your alcohol offerings. One clear liquor, one dark, one light beer, one not as light, red and white wine plus one fruit juice and one soda mixer should speed up turnover considerably. Drink tickets help too, but don’t do much to alleviate initial lines. Perhaps free liquor should be on its way out?

If all else fails, bring cash. It certainly works for restaurants and clubs!