A barcode scanner serves as an effective crowd management and ticket authentication tool. Determining how many scanners are required, whether to buy or rent, and the type of scanner needed will greatly depend on the number of entry points, the nature of your events, and your computer network.
Determine How Many Scanners You Need
Know how many entry points your venue will have, and then determine the number of people you expect to process through each one of your entry points. As a rule of thumb, it takes a ticket taker an average of three to four seconds to scan and authenticate a ticket, which roughly translates to 1000 people per hour. If you are scanning under normal circumstances, you should plan on having 1-2 scanners per 1000 people. If an intensive ticket inspection or ID verification is required, plan on 3-4 scanners per 1000 people. Having the right number of scanners will help prevent bottlenecks of patrons awaiting entry at your gate.
Rent vs Buy
For annual festivals or one-time events, scanners are only used for a limited number of days making barcode scanner rental an attractive option. The investment is considerably smaller, and you will not have to deal with the factory warranty running out after one year. Also, normal wear and tear on rented scanners is generally covered by the rental company. With limited use, it makes sense to take advantage of the latest equipment and technology that offers the strongest wireless reach and fastest scan speeds.
If your venue operates throughout the year, investing in your own scanners might be the best option. Most scanner rentals are done on a per week basis, and rental fees can quickly add up if you have multiple events scheduled every month.
Wireless or Connected
"Connected" scanners have a pistol grip and are connected to a computer via USB cable. USB scanners require either a laptop or desktop computer with an Internet connection for use in real-time web ticketing systems. USB scanners are typically used for scanning only and do not include an alpha-numeric keypad. When presented with blurred, poorly printed, or torn barcodes, the numeric ID accompanying the barcode may be entered via the computer keyboard. These are cost effective scanners.
"Wireless" scanners use your wi-fi Internet signal freeing the scanner from cords tethered to your computer. Wireless scanners generally offer durable cases and all of the functionality of a handheld Windows-based computer. They are capable of connecting directly to the Internet using a browser. For unscannable barcodes, the alpha-numeric keypad allows the scanner operator to enter the ID manually into the system. Wireless scanners allow the most flexibility with respect to movement about the gate or entrance. When using wireless scanners, it is imperative that you test your scanners and signal well before your event takes place to ensure your equipment works without interruption.
Below is a video review of the process ThunderTix uses to scan barcoded tickets to reduce fraud and a demonstration of the integrated "order lookup" feature to improve gate efficiency.
With prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to over $2000 each, purchasing the right barcode scanner is an important financial consideration. Knowing your access points, scanning requirements, frequency of use, and Internet connectivity should all be factors in your buying decision.