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Visitor Management Systems

Visitor Management systems allow organisations to streamline the check-in process for visitors. Companies can collect accurate data and easily recall and track visitor information to help monitor employee and facility safety. Visitor Management solutions often utilise ID scanning, pre-registration of individuals, email notifications, and customisable printing of visitor badges. Visitor Management software is great for hospitals, corporate property managers, schools, and government buildings. Visitor Management software is related to Club Management software, School Administration software, and Facility Management software. Find the best visitor management system for your organisation in Australia.

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Visitor Management Systems Buyers Guide

Visitor management software tools enable business organisations, educational institutions, entertainment venues, and other settings to speed up and automate visitor check-in using pre-registration, ID scanning, badge printing, and other technologies. With these tools, organisations can enforce entry restrictions and monitor visitor information to ensure the safety of their facilities and employees.

Visitor sign-in systems are used in several settings, including hospitals, schools, museums, government buildings, factories, corporations, hotels, restaurants, and property management companies. Visitor and staff management systems can also be used in co-working spaces and multiple-tenant offices, enabling users to manage team configurations and space usage from pre-arrival through to check-in.

They help secure the workplace, grant immediate access to auditors and inspectors, manage deliveries, and help employees sign in for work. They often come with screening questions for visitors and employees, instant alert notifications for managers, and companion visitor management apps for employees. In recent times, visitor registration systems have also been utilised for carrying out temperature checks, health pass checks, and other touchless operations.

Most visitor management systems serve many organisations that manage access across their facilities, so they share some of their functionality with Kiosk Software and Physical Security Software. However, some also have wider scope in facility management, similar to IWMS Software, Facility Management Software, and Space Management Software.

Occasionally, a visitor management system may also take on other concierges, receptionists, and ticketing functions, facilitating pre-bookings, waitlists, and time commitment in the same way that Appointment Scheduling Software and other Scheduling Software tools do. Much like Meeting Room Booking Systems, they may also be able to manage meeting room usage. Finally, some tools may integrate with Contractor Management Software, granting contractors automated access to company premises.

Visitor management systems are widely used in many UK industries, from hospitality to education, enabling users to access the premises with keyless entry, on-demand badge printing, online pre-registration, and other convenient options. Often available with self-service portals and mobile-ready visitor management apps, they help organisations streamline security check-in while also ensuring that they are compliant with GDPR and the Data Protection Act, even as they access criminal records and other personal information about visitors.

Visitor management software tools are not made equal. Some are designed for specific verticals, such as pre-schools, universities, museums, professional associations, restaurants, and hotels. They come with features specific to their user base. Also, in recent years, many have focused on being able to provide health screens and contact tracking information, which isn't required in every setting. However, most types of the visitor management systems will adapt to virtually any work environment because they feature a few basic capabilities:

  • Offer a warm welcome as they screen guests
  • Grant entry based on restrictions, capacity limits, and security screenings
  • Pre-register visitors online over a web application and/or mobile app
  • Sign in visitors via a self-service kiosk
  • Capture photographic images and scan drivers' licences and other forms of ID
  • Print ID badges and tokens for temporary or permanent access
  • Track entry and exit, report back to managers, and grant access to evacuation reports
  • Sign legal documents like NDAs, health and safety forms, and evacuation plans

What is Visitor Management Software?

Visitor management software is intended to assist security personnel, receptionists, hosts, and other customer-facing professionals as they grant access to their facilities without jeopardising the safety of their employees or assets.

It enables employees, patients, guests, and authorised site visitors to utilise the premises and their facilities by checking in, scanning their documents, and printing their badges. It also enables organisations in a variety of sectors—including education, hospitality, entertainment, corporate, government, and industrial—to screen visitors, enforce security measures and restrict site access. Whilst also complying with local health and safety (HSE) and privacy laws (e.g., GDPR, Data Protection Act).

Popular in a lobby setting, visitor management systems are primarily used by the receptionist, concierge, or front desk staff to facilitate check-in for guests and employees while keeping track of capacity limits, occupancy figures, entry and exit data, and security screening requirements. Managers can access it to provide watchlists and blacklists, view evacuation reports remotely, and enforce NDAs, waivers, and other entry requirements.

Visitor management systems often come with web and mobile app pre-registration, on-site self-service kiosks with customisable welcome screens, and photo capture technology for printing visitor ID badges. While some come with features specific to the hospitality industry, such as granting WiFi access for the length of their stay, most are concerned primarily with on-site security. They might integrate with access control systems to check police databases and custom watchlists.

In recent years, visitor management software has also provided health screenings, applied contact tracing rules, and communicated with security databases. For instance, some tools have been put in service to scan Covid-19 passes and QR codes using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Some have also been utilised to link with sensors in real-time to provide temperature readings for employees, travellers, diners, and hotel guests.

Over the years, visitor management applications have also crossed over into scheduling, facilities management, and room booking. But unlike online booking systems, visitor management tools don't usually process payments or showcase the venue's facilities, but focus mainly on access, security, and safety.

Some managers use them to set up hybrid workplaces, draft employee rosters and office layouts, and bring staff to the office safely. Hot desking and hotelling, parking, cafeteria, and conference room management—are just some of the activities managers and personal assistants can facilitate with these booking systems. As they coordinate with their staff through scheduling engines and visitor management apps, leaders can better accept appointments, connect workflows, and optimise resources.

As popular as they are, visitor management systems are rarely used as on-premises applications, except in government offices and other facilities with exacting cyber security requirements. For hotels, factories, corporations, schools, museums, and other organisations with large premises, cloud-based visitor management systems are a cost-effective and efficient alternative to outdated paper logs and security hardware.

As their user base has extended to B&B hosts, restaurateurs, and small venue operators, most users opt for cloud or hybrid set-ups. These provide real-time guestlist updates, automated visitor arrival notifications, and guest tracking options with both online and offline functionality via iOS and Android apps. As they work even without power or internet accessibility, their advantages outweigh those of on-premises solutions.

What are the benefits of visitor management software?

The benefits of visitor management software are felt by front desk staff or property managers or all who access a building expecting complete safety and care for their well-being and time. As such, we could classify the benefits of visitor management systems in the following groups:

  • Streamlining visitor check-in: Whether it's single-entry or group check-in, visitor registration systems make accessing the premises easier for all those involved, thanks to automated badge printing, keyless entry, and other technologies that do away with individual processing, and consent form signing, and on-demand authorisation from managers. Also, with a visitor sign-in system, returning visitors and delivery drivers are saved from the hassle of going through the registration process every time they access the building.
  • Screening visitors: Front desk staff shouldn't be expected to provide security checks if they don't have a background in enforcing security. With real-time ID scanning, photo capture, background information processing, and immediately enforceable access restrictions, visitor management software can take over this aspect of reception work. These tools extract information from local and foreign government-issued documents like passports, driver's licences, ID cards, and health pass, reporting back to staff and their managers instantly if there is the risk of a security breach. This comes in very handy in educational institutions, museums, and government offices, which may be the targets of people with prior criminal offences.
  • Deterring criminals: All organisations are vulnerable to theft, burglary, staff harassment, and damage – those with heavy footfall even more so than others. Whether it's used by a B&B hosts, government offices, restaurateurs, museums, or schools, visitor management software may deter people from trying to access the building with malicious intent. Those with a history of a sex offence, harassment, stalking, physical violence, trespassing, burglary, or other criminal activity may be dissuaded from approaching the building that uses visitor entry systems as part of their security stack.
  • Legal compliance: The owner, property manager, or administrator of a property has a duty of care to those who visit it. Organisations must comply with privacy laws like GDPR and the Data Protection Act. Keeping a paper check-in log with unverified names and signatures for H&S purposes doesn't cover these requirements, especially as there is no guarantee that the information will be disposed of safely and by the due date. Visitor management systems can automate all these processes and ensure compliance across the entire organisation.
  • Reducing administrative workloads: Both front desk employees and back-office employees stand to gain from a streamlined visitor check-in process. Aside from background checks, administrative tasks also involve time-consuming data entry, reconciliation, storage, and disposal activities. Even in small settings, such as private nurseries, memorial museums, children's centres, private clinics, and birthday party venues, the sheer amount of work involved in managing requests, approvals, bookings, waiting lists, and waiting times for visitors can be daunting. As everything is automated, administrative tasks are streamlined, and repetitive or redundant tasks are eliminated, enabling repeat visitors to check-in and out more easily without relying on front desk staff.
  • Increased productivity: In a teamwork setting, visitor management systems can help colleagues keep track of each others whereabouts and direct their requests only to colleagues who are on-site and available to respond in real-time. This includes corporate professionals, school staff, hotel workers, and other teams with high levels of mobility over vast premises. With insight into worker whereabouts, leaders can more easily delegate and adapt to changes, such as when there are higher infection rates and staff need to self-isolate quickly.
  • More transparency: Work hours, overtime, paid leave, and daily comings and goings are challenging to track and are commonly misinterpreted by colleagues. With a visitor management system, authorised teammates and managers can better understand a worker's level of engagement and the number of hours they put in, eliminating the risk of preferential treatment and co-worker animosity. The same goes for non-managerial staff, who may take comfort in knowing that their managers put in as much work as they do, should their managers be willing to share this information.
  • More accountability: As each visitor is tracked through the entry system, with a record of the reason for their visit and the name of their host on file, this enables property administrators to make hosts accountable for security breaches. With these tools, hosts can authorise people to enter the building, including relatives, friends, and dependants, and they also take responsibility for any safety concerns.
  • Centralised management: Visitor data is collected, stored, and managed centrally, in a single database, rather than spreadsheets or paper forms gathered from every entry point. This enables stakeholders to gain crucial insights in real-time and access the data remotely, with the appropriate authorisation. Ultimately, this limits the number of people who can view and use visitor data, as every bit of data goes through machines rather than front desk personnel and those who may be standing by their desk at any given moment.

What are the features of visitor management software?

The features of visitor management software vary quite a bit, as developers try very hard to differentiate their products and provide unique selling points for their intended markets. In recent years, the functionality of these applications has also adapted to changing GDPR rules, COVID-19 pass screening requirements, and new work environments. On top of this, some can offer features like WiFi guest account management, parking management, Active Directory integration, and pre-booking plugins for popular office software. But what it all comes down to is whether they can offer the six basic features of visitor management software:

  • Contact management: Captures, interprets, checks, and stores visitor contact information. Security managers can rest assured that they have collected correct and accurate contact information in real-time for all visitors rather than relying on hand-written notes scribbled on paper at the front desk and collected at the end of the workday. Having scanned their business cards, driver's licence, ID cards, passports, work badges, health passes, and other documents, cross-referenced the data, and stored it in a central database, the visitor management system can make that information available instantly.
  • Registration management: Enables visitors to register by themselves for self-check-in, either on-site or in advance. Visitor management systems can facilitate this service by providing a pre-registration link or a dedicated booking section on an app that handles compliance signing and token printing in advance. This may then entitle visitors to a QR code or other means of authentication, shared with them via SMS text or email, which can speed up sign-in upon arrival.
  • Visitor Tracking: Tracks visitors going in and out, recording the reason for their visit and their host. This feature is a simple log tool, which often integrates with the company's existing contractor databases, CRMs, and other tools. It enables users to generate real-time reports, keep an eye on occupancy levels, and comply with legal capacity limits for fire drills and real-life evacuation scenarios.
  • Self-check-in: Allows visitors to check in using their ID cards. Visitor management systems can be configured to recognise and validate local and foreign-issued ID cards, work badges, passports, driver's licence, and other personal documents. This includes those that feature QR codes, text, and photos. This feature relieves front desk staff of personally checking documents and going back and forth with security personnel or managers to establish the validity of a document not easily recognisable locally.
  • Photo capture: Takes instant photos of visitors for storage, cross-references, or enhanced security checks. Not all visitor sign-in systems will take a visitor's picture and instantly run it through a police database or other government checking tool. Some will only capture and store it for future reference, in line with privacy laws, or only so that print visitor badges.
  • Badge printing: Issues instant badges for permanent or temporary use, based on authorisation levels and visitor-specific restrictions. Several self-service kiosks can be used at venue check-in points to print badges straightaway. Some will even dispense complimentary lanyards and pins. However, most will be able to generate custom layouts and content, depending on the visitor's credentials, to differentiate them from staff, management, or other visitors.
  • Watchlist management: Maintains a watchlist and uses it to notify security staff of potential trespassers. It's not unusual for property administrators to add former employees, disgruntled customers, destructive guests, unruly school parents, or other unwanted visitors to a watchlist. Visitor booking systems and check-in software can help sift troublesome guests before they gain entry onto the premises.
  • Alerts and notifications: Let the host know when their guests have arrived and send system-wide notifications where necessary. This feature enables guests to access the building, meeting room, or booked accommodation immediately while also allowing hosts to speed up their appointments, customise check-in on the spot, grant temporary authorisation urgently to inspectors and auditors, and speed up their appointments.

Capterra's software directory features countless visitor management tools, many of which come with several more qualities than the ones mentioned above. Readers are encouraged to browse the software directory, which is brimming with visitor management systems ideal for any business, hopefully sifting the list down to a contender that ticks all the boxes.

What should be considered when purchasing visitor management software?

When purchasing visitor management software, the sheer variety on offer can deter from the most crucial aspects. Narrowing it down to bare minimum requirements, business owners would do well to first consider five basic aspects when purchasing visitor management software:

  • What languages does it come in? It's easy to get carried away with all the eye-catching features of a top-grade visitor management tool. But business owners should first make sure that their software of choice is available to the market they cater to and is tailored to native and foreign speakers. It's not just organisations in the hospitality industry and global corporations that must accommodate non-native speakers, but also schools, museums, and government offices.
  • Does it integrate with the organisation's tools and equipment? Finding software that can integrate with existing and future APIs is a must because all organisations are developing at a rapid pace. The software should be scalable, ideally through flexible SaaS-type subscriptions, and be able to link up with printers, mobile devices, kiosks, barcode scanners, CCTV cameras, thermometers, and all the other devices necessary in the user's line of work.
  • Does it come with templates and customisations? Stakeholders should be able to access visitor records easily and customise reports, dashboards, notification layouts, and security alert screens. Likewise, visitors may find it refreshing to have a variety of print layouts, formats, and text fonts to choose from when they print their badges.
  • Is it self-sufficient? Several of today's tools use algorithms to cross-reference data, match records, validate documents, and carry out data protection rule enforcement. However, some require human involvement regularly. Even those that don't may operate with outdated, biassed, or locally invalid rules. Users need to ascertain whether their tool is algorithmic and what coding its programming is based on to ensure that it complies with local labour, privacy, data protection, and safety laws.
  • Is it a good value for money? Budgets can clash with feature requirements, but good visitor booking and sign-in systems should come in multiple versions to suit any budget or business need. While users may expect to rethink deployment, user number, and hardware requirements for the sake of a good tool, they shouldn't sacrifice business growth, visitor counts, office locations, or host numbers due to ownership costs.

In recent days, the most relevant visitor management software trends have come to reflect wider, macro-economic changes and global social trends. Developers are trying to catch up and offer features that businesses can make the most of in unforeseen circumstances, including environmental, health, and security threats. Here are some of the emerging visitor management software trends most relevant to users in our time:

  • More reliance on Artificial Intelligence (AI): Visitor management systems are seeing a rise in facial recognition, biometrics, and other AI-enabled technologies. As with all types of programming, these systems can be vulnerable to bias, flawed logic, or coding error. Situations easily corrected by humans, such as misidentifying a visitor, could cause detrimental difficulties to visitors, including job candidates, late-night guests, and school parents.
  • Adoption of wearable tech: Smartwatches, smart rings, and smart glasses are just some of the devices visitors are using at increasing rates. While these devices can help speed up the check-in process, some may hinder ID validation and database checks.
  • Rise of IoT: From thermometers doing temperature screenings to RFID scanners checking bracelets at Disneyland, organisations are using connectors and sensors at an increasing rate. These devices can feed into Big Data and speed up a company's operations tremendously, but they may also be met with suspicion and defiance by some visitors.
  • Mobile readiness means business: Remote access is of paramount importance to all users and will continue to be even as devices become more and more complex in their design. Visitors will expect to be able to access the organisation's visitor management app, WiFi network, keyless entry software, and self-check-in facility, often from the same device, which is a challenge to developers everywhere.
  • Chatbot welcome screens: Self-service kiosks are nothing new, but now chatbots are gaining popularity. Developers may not be able to provide chatbot assistance on every check-in terminal, but they should at least have the resources to offer this option in the future if demand persists.