Visitor management has gone through a transformation. Traditional paper logs that do a poor job on keeping track of visitors have increasingly given way to computerized visitor management systems with more cutting-edge features and integration capabilities. This way the end user organization not only keeps premises safe and secure but also offers an enhanced guest experience, in the process increasing its brand awareness and value.
“A good visitor management system takes into account the experience and lifecycle of the visitor within a facility. Instead of a system that could potentially come across as a ‘big brother'-style approach to monitoring the whereabouts and actions of the individual, it’s important that the solution is viewed with the perspective of accounting for the visitor as a welcomed guest to the premises, in both a general sense and in the event of an emergency,” said Neil Fox, Marketing Manager at Time Data Security.
For a long time, visitor management has been done by paper and pen, a method that is ineffective and outdated. “More often than not, the names are not legible or are false. In an emergency such as a fire, it would be impossible to quickly determine who is still in the building,” said Eric Chiu, Sales Director of PACS for North Asia at HID Global.
As a result, users have turned to computerized visitor management systems, which are “much more accurate and provide additional information that a log book cannot provide, like visitor photo, address, gender and reason for visit,” said Virginia Savietto, Marketing Manager at Security Identification Systems Corporation.
Given demands for visitor management systems that are both secure and user friendly, the following are some of the common features in today’s visitor management solutions that seek to meet those objectives.
More and more, registration can be further streamlined through a pre-registration process. This is especially beneficial when a host is expecting a large group of visitors, as they don’t have to register one by one. “We've incorporated a function within Outlook and Google Calendar. The moment you schedule a meeting through Outlook and Google Calendar, it will immediately pre-register everybody on your invitee list, trying to eliminate that extra step that employees have to take to register their visitors,” said Kurt Takahashi, SVP of Sales at AMAG Technology.
According to Chiu, a particularly valuable feature of a visitor management system is the ability to integrate with the organization’s access control system. “An access card for the visitor is activated in the access system using the information entered into the visitor software. Upon the visitor’s departure, he or she is checked out by the visitor lobby system and the associated card is automatically deactivated. If visitors accidentally take their cards with them, the facility will still be secure since the visitor software passes the expiration date and time to the access system,” he said.
Tracking of visitors
Integration with the access control system gives an additional benefit – enabling the administrator to gain a better oversight on the visitor’s whereabouts once they enter the building. "You can see when the visitor arrived and when they entered and left various checkpoints and when they checked out of the facility. Also, integration with the access control system allows you to see what doors/areas the visitor accessed with their access card," said Debbie Pendleton, VP of Sales and Marketing at STOPware.
If a visitor hasn’t checked out, the visitor management solution will know that he or she is still in the building. This can come in handy in the event of emergency, when the visitor needs notification. “You can notify visitors in emergency situations by mustering –– once a visitor registers with a phone number, they can opt-in to receive communications via text or email in case of an emergency,” said Steve Van Till, President and CEO of Brivo.
In the future, we may see mobility and biometrics play a bigger role, allowing a complete frictionless experience for visitors. “Eventually we may see a visitor management system recognizing a visitor based on facial recognition or device, automatically notifying a host, and allowing the visitor access and directions through to the appropriate meeting point – a complete hands-free experience,” said Evan Morgans, Product Manager for Security at Gallagher.