The Ultimate Guide to Event Attendance Tracking


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Tracking attendance at events can be valuable for most organizations that host events. Attendance tracking can make your business more profitable and help you more efficiently achieve your goals. Most people think that tracking attendance at your event is complicated and hard. 

However, that really depends on how you set up your attendee tracking process and what technology you use. There are various ways you can track event attendance at your events. 

You can go the simple basic and free route by using a piece of paper with a list of attendees or you can go the modern route that is less prone to errors and can issue advanced functionality like generating electronic tickets, and using mobile apps to scan and validate tickets at the door. 

Neither of these methods is wrong, rather they are different from one another and have advantages and disadvantages to each situation. In this article, we review the different methods of attendance tracking and their benefits.

And finally, we’ll take a look at how Event Espresso can help your organization take the next step in modernizing your event registration process which includes adding an attendance tracking system to help you quickly process event admissions and automatically receive a standardized attendance record and attendance report.

  • 6 Benefits of Event Attendance Tracking for Any Type of Event 

    Event attendance tracking is great to improve almost any current event and any upcoming event. Tracking your event attendance will allow you to measure: the ROI (return on investment) for all of your events, the effectiveness of marketing and communication strategies, document and report attendance requirements, control access and secure your event or follow social distancing protocols, follow up with attendees to be sure they have a great experience and prepare and invite attendees for the next event. More on each of those items below.

    1. Return on Investment

    Return on investment (ROI) is often used as a financial term to measure the ratio of how much money is spent on marketing efforts and the profit generated. However, return on investment can also be relative to an organization or person’s mission and goals. 

    An art class instructor who is hosting a virtual event as part of a for-profit-making enterprise will want to measure how much money is spent and how much profit is generated from their classes. However, a non-profit organization (NPO) might not have the same objectives as a for-profit organization. 

    Instead, an NPO might use the attendance information to measure event participation and if people are attending as volunteers or participants in their mission. An NPO might not even charge fees for their events so their mission may not be about money.

    But regardless if your organization is about generating a profit or leading social change, measuring whether your audience is in attendance at your events, will help you better understand if you are getting a return on your investment. 

    Knowing how many attendees actually check in or attend your event can be valuable for your organization to know whether, for example, 1000 people attended, or 95% of people attended. Knowing the event attendance will give event managers and planners more information for making decisions in the future.

    2. Measuring Effectiveness of Marketing and Communication Activities

    Event attendance tracking can also be helpful for evaluating how effective your communication tactics and strategies are. For example, if your audience registers but they don’t actually attend the event, then perhaps you need to send reminders before the event to make sure people don’t forget about your event. 

    You might also want to include reminders for attendees to bring supplies to the event. Whatever action you want your registrants and participants to take, knowing whether people take that action can help your event be more successful for everyone involved.

    3. Meeting Requirements (When Attendance is Required)

    When your students and guests are required to attend an event, for example for continuing education credits, then your organization is responsible for attendance verification and reporting. 

    By using an automated process such as barcode or QR code scanning during event check-in, you can easily verify who attended your events and provide the documentation as proof by easily exporting your attendance records into a CSV file

    Those who register or purchase a ticket are not always able to attend, so without recording a session attendance, it will be impossible to know and record who actually attended.

    4. Controlling Access, Security, and Safety

    Events are inherently social activities. However, if the number of people that can participate in your event is limited by some factor (capacity e.g. fire limits, scarce experiences e.g. VIPs, resources, or safety e.g. social distancing) then the type of tickets you offer and the number of tickets you sell will need to be limited.

    Reporting access, security, and safety compliance can also be required by the venue or government agencies. Keeping event attendance records can help you to file compliance reports.

    Additionally, the big reason you offer multiple types of tickets and control access to an event is to give your audience the right to a certain experience. You have to follow through with your promise to validate tickets and attendance to maintain credibility with your audience. 

    With event attendance tracking you’re able to validate that an attendee has the right privileges and access to participate in these unique experiences. Controlling who has access can further support your efforts to keep your event secure for the right people and safe for other event delegates.

    5. Follow Up

    Without taking attendance at an event, how will you know how many people actually showed up? How will you know how many attendees could have visited your vendor hall and vendor booths at your conference? 

    How will you know which sessions were more popular or less well attended? How will you do contract tracing at your church without knowing how many people actually attended? How will you know who to send a survey to after the event is over? 

    Or how will you know who to reach out to about not attending if you don’t take attendance? Taking attendance at an event will be the only way you know who was actually there and how to follow up with those attendees later.

    6. Re-marketing

    You’ve probably heard it said that it is easier to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. So, if your event is good, your best source of attendees or donors, or ticket sales will be your current customers. 

    Knowing which of your audience registered or purchased tickets is a good thing, and you get those numbers from the registration records. However, knowing those who actually attended and had a shared experience with your brand is different and important.

    Knowing who actually attended an event gives you opportunities to invite those people to engage with your brand again. In some cases such as hosting a conference with vendors, those who attend might also give vendors permission for the vendors to contact them for more information.

    In some cases event experiences are sequential and attendees need to participate in linear order. So, once a customer attends one event you can invite them to participate and register for the next event.

    3 Free Attendance Tracking Methods

    We all love free. However, nothing is ever free. If something is free, often it will cost you more money than when you invest a little in event technology. But if saving money is more important to you than saving time, then here are a couple of free attendance tracking tools.


    Paper is the original attendance tracking tool. The pros and costs of using paper for attendance tracking are that paper is reliable and easy to use; while the disadvantages are that it’s slow and static.

    Paper is obviously ubiquitous and easy to use. But paper lists can not be shared very easily and can be inaccurate at times due to errors. If you have multiple simultaneous check-in stations, the check-in lists will need to be repeatedly consolidated and verified.


    Using a database program like Excel or Numbers, etc. is the first step to digitizing your attendance tracking record. Tracking your attendance in a database program allows you to maintain the attendance sheet in a single source that can contain the registration or ticket sale information with the attendance history. 

    All other forms of electronic attendance tracking start with this basic format. The comma-separated values (.csv) format is ubiquitous and interoperable by almost all computer systems.

    In the modern digital age, understanding and familiarity with basic database systems such as Excel, Numbers, Google Sheets, etc. is extremely valuable. These database programs allow you to format the data into a table, and sort the database by different columns of data such as name, date, ticket type, answers to custom questions, etc.

    Database systems allow you to provide and share “reporting metrics” as is required in some industries. And database systems allow you to append more and more data to a registration record (adding new columns of data to one row) that can be valuable as you analyze and record the lifetime history and value of a customer.

    Social Media

    Using social media to take attendance at an event can get your customers to be advocates for your event but can also be inaccurate.

    Woman doing social media

  • As an example, you can ask attendees to indicate their attendance at an event by mentioning your social media handle or your event, or a specific hashtag. Or you can ask attendees to engage with speakers or sponsors on social media. This can give your event some extra event promotion online and introduce your event to new audiences.However, this method can be inaccurate because attendees can be anywhere in the world and post to social media as if they were at the event. Additionally, you can ask your attendees to follow through with their promise to “mention” your event via their social media, however, you can’t enforce it. 

    There will always be a certain percentage that forgets to follow through with the promise to do so, or just doesn’t follow through with it. So, the accuracy of your attendance might be questionable. In addition, it might be difficult to manually track all the social media mentions you get from using this attendance tracking method. So, if accuracy is critical then using a more strict list method such as paper, excel, or an app would be more appropriate.

    4 Advantages of Event Attendance Tracking Software & Mobile Apps

    Event tracking software and mobile apps can improve the accuracy and usability of your registration, ticketing, and attendance data. These applications can save you time and money, but they are really an investment in you and your business. Event apps make events more efficient and power more opportunities for the event planner.

    Registration and Attendance Tracking in One Place

    With online event registration or ticket sales combined with digital attendance tracking, you can get all your event data in one place and format. Getting data into one format and into one place makes the data a more usable asset for your business. The data can be used to run reports, compare customer demographics, pricing tactics, etc. Data storage becomes increasingly important and useful the more events and attendees you have or when reporting requirements are increasingly more complex.

    Location Matters Less

    A digital record of your registration and ticket and attendance records makes the location of the check-in record less important. You can have the check-in station(s) outside, or inside a building, or at each individual session. The point of mobile software applications is that they are just that, mobile.

    Multiple Locations Simultaneously with Synchronized Data

    With a single database of event attendance records, the data can be accessed by multiple people at the same time. You can prevent fraud and people trying to access the event with the same ticket because the mobile app can scan a barcode or QR code and validate the ticket. The scanner will search the database to see if that ticket has been used before or not and return a response to the person scanning the tickets that the ticket is valid or not.

    Corporate event or meeting

  • Everyone Has a Device to Scan

    Does your event look cool with a paper list or would it look cooler if you were scanning tickets with your mobile device? With a mobile app, your attendees can see that their tickets will be scanned and you are doing it efficiently by using technology. If you have lots of attendees you can also employ more staff to use their own devices to scan and validate tickets at the door.

    Mobile devices can be used for attendance tracking too. The same attendee ticket or badge can be configured to allow access to multiple datetimes, classes, or sessions, or venues. When the ticket is scanned for a specific date or time or event the check-in timestamp can be recorded for that person. This again can be accomplished with anyone on your team with a mobile app for event attendance tracking.

    Attendance Tracking for 6 Specific Events and Audiences

    Attendance Tracking for Classes and Seminars

    Classes can either be one event or a series of events. Event Espresso allows you to sell a ticket to a class or multiple classes with one ticket or multiple tickets (one for each date). But what is important is that you create a datetime for each date so that their ticket(s) can be scanned for each date. Having a datetime for each class allows you to track attendance at each of those classes.

    Attendance Tracking for Conferences

    Conferences are either one event or a series of events around a specific period of time (usually a few days or weeks). Event Espresso allows you to sell a ticket to a conference and optionally to sell tickets to conference sessions or vendor showcases, sponsorships, etc. But what is important is that you create a datetime for each conference, and/session/event so that attendees at the conference can have their ticket(s) scanned. You can even have a datetime for each vendor, so a vendor could scan conference participants’ tickets at their booth. That would give you a record to send the attendee’s conference information to the vendor after the show is over. Having a datetime for each event/session/etc allows you to track attendance at each of those events.

    Attendance Tracking for Churches

    Tracking attendance at church services and activities has become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Churches can still host their worship services which may be required to limit attendance, have attendees agree to waivers, social distance, and have attendance records for contact tracing. You can use paper or excel to track attendance, or use mobile apps and scan tickets to check-in attendees. If you need to contact your congregation about exposure to COVID-19 or any concern, you will have a record of attendance at your church services.

    Attendance Tracking for Festivals

    Tracking attendance at festivals can be challenging because attendees are often coming in fast to multiple entrance locations. But tracking attendance at festivals can be made easier with mobile ticket scanning and check-in apps. With Event Espresso, you can issue a ticket to attendees that they can either print or show their mobile devices. Your staff can use the Event Espresso check-in app on mobile devices, to scan tickets and validate them at the ticket entrance. Once you scan the tickets, attendees will be listed as attending so you know how many people are at the event or how many actually redeemed their tickets.

    Attendance Tracking for Fundraising

    Attendance tracking at fundraisers is important if you want to know who participated and how many attended. Charities and non-profit organizations can use their attendance tracking information to invite attendees who showed up for a fundraising event to attend another event. You can measure which attendees attended based on whether they got a free ticket, or if they attended when they purchased a ticket. This information can help you make better decisions for future fundraising events.

    Attendance Tracking for Meetings

    Tracking attendance for meetings such as board meetings, association meetings, neighborhood meetings, professional meetings, etc. can help the group be better organized and efficient. If you use an attendance sheet or even better mobile apps (when in-person), you don’t have to perform a roll call because the data has already been gathered when people arrive.

    Event Attendance Tracking with WordPress and Event Espresso

    Event attendance tracking with Event Espresso and WordPress can help your organization be more efficient, effective, and professional. You can use Event Espresso and integrate your event registration, ticket sales, and attendance tracking within your WordPress website. You do not have to rely on a third-party service provider that charges large fees just for tracking attendance to your events. Instead, you can easily master the many ways to take attendance at your events and empower your organization to be more successful in the future.

    Example of How to Set Up Event Attendance Tracking with Event Espresso

    1. Create your Event and Datetimes

    You can configure your ticket and event date options in several ways: 1) either a relationship between one ticket and one datetime, 2) one ticket and multiple datetimes, or 3) a mix of both one ticket with multiple dates or multiple tickets with one date. I know that sounds a little complicated but the ticket/pricing options in Event Espresso are flexible and powerful to give you the most thorough ticket options available.

    As an example of how to set up event attendance tracking, here is an event with multiple datetimes (dates) with multiple ticket options too.

    event date and times

    Ticket A allows the attendee to check-in to all datetimes (dates) of the event.

    Ticket B allows the attendee to check-in just datetimes 1 and 2.

    Ticket C allows the attendee to only check-in to datetime 3.

    1. Login to the Event Mobile App and Choose the Event and a Datetime(s)

    Download the Event Espresso mobile app. You can login by using the same credentials you use to login to your website.

    Event Espresso Mobile Attendance Tracking App

    1. Scan the Ticket(s) to Check-in

    You can use the Event Espresso mobile app to scan the QR code or barcode on a printed or electronic ticket from an attendee’s device to check them in or track attendance.

    Scan Event Ticket To Track Attendance

    Note: You can also manually locate an attendee on the mobile app and check them in without scanning a ticket.

    1. Download Attendance Tracking or Check-in Data

    Once you have scanned a ticket or checked-in attendees you can view the event attendance check-in data inside Event Espresso. You can also download the data from Event Espresso to a CSV report to create the attendance reports you need.

    The WordPress plugin ~ Event Espresso along with our free mobile app can make your event attendance tracking process easier and look more professional. You will be able to use Event Espresso over and over again without the added cost and use the attendance tracking data to make your events and business more successful.

    The EE4 Everything License is the best value and it includes the plugins you will need for the best experience with event attendance tracking. We also have a 30-day refund guarantee so there’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain.


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