How to Use QR Codes to Speed Up Event Check-In

Events October 15, 2019

Kate Hawkes

By Kate Hawkes

At every event I’ve volunteered with over the past few years, there was one thing that made all of us tear our hair out – volunteers, staff, venue managers and attendees alike.  


Even with months of planning in place, your ideas of the perfect event experience for your guests can go out the window with this one thing.


Event check-in. 


When you’re planning your event, you probably hope it will look something like this:  

  • Attendees turn up to your sold-out event and form a neat line 

  • Your volunteers and staff check everyone in almost instantly 

  • The attendees move into the venue 

  • The event starts on time 


But, in reality, most organizations find that it happens a bit more like this:  

  • Attendees turn up early to get the best spots, and crowd around the entrances 

  • Your volunteers and staff struggle to find each attendee name on their list 
  • There’s confusion about tickets being used more than once 

  • Your attendees start to get frustrated at the wait 

  • There isn’t time to confirm if every paper ticket is for the right event 

  • Your event starts behind schedule 

  • Volunteers are overwhelmed, staff are stressed, and attendees are restless  


Luckily, that’s the old way of doing things.  


When we started scanning QR codes to check in registrants, it changed things completely at the events I was volunteering for. It took less than 2 seconds to check in each attendee, and we could see immediately if there were any issues with their registration.  


In version 7.4 of WildApricot, we added the functionality to check in event registrants using QR codes. Read on to find out 6 key ways it makes life easier for your volunteers, and the simple steps to using QR codes for your events right away. 


In this post, you’ll learn: 


What Are QR codes?

qr code image

QR codes are a type of barcode – you may have seen them on paper or electronic tickets, including airline boarding passes.  


Each QR code is unique, so when this code is scanned it accesses personalized information on the related ticket, including which event the registration is for, the date and time, the name of the associated registrant, and whether the ticket has been paid for.  


What You Can Do With QR Code Check-In

With the QR code feature, you can:  

  • Automatically issue each registrant with a unique QR code via a registration email.  

  • Registrants can print out their event ticket to present their QR code, or present it on their mobile device.  

  • Scan QR codes using the WildApricot for Admins app, which will automatically check in the registrant. 

  • See information relating to that registration, including the date they registered and whether they have any guests. 

  • Get notifications about any issues with registration, including if the QR code has already been used to check in or if it’s for a different event.  


6 Ways QR Codes Will Make Life Easier for Your Volunteers

qr code check in benefits infographic

How to Check In Your Registrants Using QR Codes

Quick-start guide:

  • QR codes will be included in your event confirmation emails. 

  • The registrant opens their registration confirmation email on their mobile device. 

  • Open up the event on the WildApricot for Admins app and click Check in with QR code.

  • Hold up your mobile device to the registrant's QR code to automatically scan the code and check them in. 

  • And that’s it! You’re ready to check in your next registrant. 


So, how much time can you save by checking in registrants using QR codes?

If you’re scanning QR codes, it can take less than 2 seconds to check in each attendee.

 QR code check in mobile gif

For more details, read on: 


1. QR codes will be included to your event confirmation emails.

  • To view your event confirmation emails, click on Events in the main menu, then Event emails. You can then click the Event registration confirmed link.  

  • In the email, the QR code will be shown as the macro {QR_Code}. When someone receives that email, it will include a unique QR code as an image. 

  • If you have modified your registration confirmation email template, you can add a QR code by adding {QR_Code} in Edit mode, and clicking Save


2. When they’re ready to check in, the registrant opens their registration confirmation email on their mobile device.

  • Within the email, they can find the QR code. Alternatively, registrants can print out the email including the code and bring it along to the event. 

 QR code email - app scroll resized 

3. Open up the event on the WildApricot for Admins app and click Check in with QR code.

  • To download the app for iOS, click here.On your smart phone, click the WildApricot for Admins app on your home screen to open the app.  

  • To download the app for Android, click here.  

  • Click the Events icon, and then select Upcoming Events

  • Select the relevant event from the list and scroll down to click Check in with QR code.

  • qr code mobile app check in button

  • The first time the administrator chooses this option, they will be prompted to allow the app to access the camera on their mobile device. You need to allow the app to access your camera if you want to use the app to scan QR codes. 


4. Hold up your mobile device to the registrant's QR code to automatically scan the code.

 qr code mobile app scanning phone 2
  • If the registration stored in the QR code is a valid registration for the current event, and the registrant hasn't already been checked in, then a message will be displayed indicating that the registrant has been successfully checked in.

qr code mobile already check in  
  • For more information about the registration, tap on the registrant's name. 

  • If the registration includes guests, the guests will not be checked in using the QR code. To check in the registrant's guests, tap the registrant's name to view their registration details and check in the guests from there. 

qr code mobile app registration details 

5. Check in your next registrant.

  • Click the Scan another code option then scan the next QR code. 


To check in unpaid registrations

  • If the registration is unpaid, a message to that effect will appear when you scan their code, and the registrant will not be checked in.

  • To check in a registrant with an unpaid registration:

    • Tap the circle to the left of the registrant's name

    • Choose from the options to Check in with payment or Check in without payment.


My Pro Tips for Scanning QR Codes

Most of the time, the QR code should scan right away. On the rare occasions the code isn’t scanning, try these troubleshooting tips: 


On mobile:  

  • Ask the attendee to turn up the brightness on their device 

  • Ask the attendee to zoom in on the QR code  


On paper:  

  • Try flattening the paper out if there are any creases 

  • Hold the paper directly under the phone you’re using to scan, rather than at an angle 

  • Move a little so there’s more light hitting the paper 


Frequently Asked Questions


What will happen if someone tries to use a QR code from another event?

If the registration is for a different event, then the registrant will not be checked in, and a message will appear identifying the event.


What happens if someone has already checked in with that QR code?

If the QR code has already been used to check in a registrant, then it won’t allow check in again if it’s scanned again. A message will appear letting you know that this registrant has already checked in. 


Where to Find More About QR Code Check-In

Using QR codes to check in registrants – Help Site 

WildApricot for Admins App (Android) - Help Site 

WildApricot for Admins App (iOS) - Help Site 


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