Building security is critical for any organization, especially when visitor access to company facilities is necessary for meetings or events.
Similar to software that manages reservations for hospitality, a visitor management system (VMS) helps manage and track visitors, allows selective access to buildings and improves the overall visitor experience.
This buyer’s guide is intended to help those seeking a VMS. We’ll cover:
A VMS helps manage the flow of visitors into a company’s facilities or other locations. As visitors arrive, they can use a kiosk loaded with a VMS to self-register for a meeting or event. Visitor identification, such as a photo ID or business card, can also be scanned and checked against a watch list to increase security. Additionally, administrative personnel can use the solution to manage assets, such as keys and access cards assigned to visitors. Each item can be individually tagged to mitigate the risk of loss or theft.
Once the system clears a person for entry, they can print a customized name tag or visitor badge that will allow them access to any area the company determines.
The system can also notify an employee that their guest has arrived and offer the guest directions to a meeting room or display a directory. In the case of emergency evacuations, security supervisors and floor wardens can sign people out of the building premises securely using an electronic verification process.
Over time, visitor data can be collected for return visits and reporting purposes.
Features vary among top VMS software platforms, but the following features are most common:
|Visitor screening||A VMS screens visitors against local or online watch lists. Schools and day cares often use a VMS to prevent entry or alert security officials if a registered sex offender attempts to enter.|
|Preregistration||VMS users can enable pre-registration, which emails guests ahead of their visit. These emails can include dates, times, directions, parking information and other details that help visitors get to their meetings quickly.|
|Self check-in||Guests can self-register by using a tablet kiosk or smartphone as they enter the building. These visitor-facing interfaces can be customized with company logos or special instructions.|
|ID scanning and badging||Instead of entering information with a keypad, visitors can scan their business card or other photo identification to check in. A VMS can instantly print a name tag to give guests access to their intended destination in a building.|
|Electronic documents||A company can ask visitors to digitally sign documents when checking in, such as a non-disclosure agreement to protect sensitive corporate information.|
|Visitor tracking and reporting||The system can retain information about each person, such as arrival and departure time, duration of visit and more. This data is useful for determining the location of a visitor or generating reports on attendance, for example.|
|Notifications||After a visitor checks in, the system can notify the employee they are scheduled to meet with, so meetings can start on time.|
|Embedded database||A VMS comes integrated with an embedded database where all data is stored locally. This eliminates the need of any connections with third-party database systems or setting up preregistration tools, as visitor information is stored by the system.|
Your industry determines the features and extras that can be useful for your organization. A variety of industries may use a VMS to increase security and efficiency in their facilities, such as:
K-12 education. Primary school VMS users can benefit from ID cards customized with the school’s logo for faculty and name badges for students. This helps increase transparency among students and faculty and prevent entry for those who have no official business at the school.
University campus. Campus security is a top priority. Using a VMS, higher education campuses can maintain secure facilities with access control so that only professors and administrators are allowed into sensitive areas.
Corporate and government. Companies and government organizations can keep data and hardware secure with access control, as well as improve the visitor experience for nonemployees by providing directions and other information to help them reach their meetings on time.
A VMS often requires the use of extra hardware and other accessories so visitors can check in, print name tags and gain access to buildings. These can include:
Kiosk computers. A receptionist can greet visitors and use a VMS to check them in. However, for companies or organizations with a high volume of guests, events and meetings, setting up a kiosk for self check in can speed up the check-in process.
Printers. Guests can be identified visually with customized name tags printed on a specialized printer, located either behind the reception desk or next to a self-service kiosk.
ID cards and keytags. For frequent visitors, companies may decide to issue permanent plastic ID cards or keytags, which are small plastic tags guests can scan upon entry.
Most systems require a monthly payment, but may differ on how that payment is calculated. Here are some common pricing models:
It’s important to note that some vendors combine these pricing structures, e.g., a basic package may charge a flat monthly price for one lobby location and up to 25 visitors per day. Evaluate system providers to determine the plan that makes the most sense for your needs.
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