For something as crucial to an event or a business as crowd and queue management, not so many guides are available on this subject. And on the surface level, such guides are not exactly important.
After all, what is so complicated about managing a queue? You simply keep an eye on the people at your event or business. Fast-forward to March 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world sees us queuing for just about everything - from prescriptions and food shopping, to the post office and doctor's appointments. On top of that, the importance of queueing safely in line with Government advice (a 2 metre distance from others) can literally mean the difference between life and death. So, whether you're searching for different ways to engage your guest, ensure safety at entry points, or build up the spirit of visitors, then the best way to achieve that is through queue management.
So, how does this work? How can you make the most from an event by arranging people and ensuring they are organised as they enter an event or a business entity?
Why crowd and queue management is critical for success
Contrary to common knowledge, queue management is not an easy a task as it sounds. Herding a large number of people into a line and ensuring they are able to stay there will not have a much positive effect on any person’s experience. An alternative to this would be to use queue management to analyse, manage, and improve guest flow. The good thing about this is that you’ll be in a position to generate tremendous benefits, from optimised staffing to better resource management, to better understanding of the visitors’ or customers’ journey.
Queue and crowd management can be undertaken in a variety of ways, from the digital scheduling to physical barriers, to VIP ticketing. Physical aspects to queue management including items such as belt and rope barriers, chain posts, crowd-control barriers, café barriers, among others.
The significance of crowd and queue management, therefore, cannot be underestimated given the role it has played in ensuring crowd organisation and the safety of the mass during a concert. A special case to note is the Brighton park festival where attendees feared for their safety as a result of overcrowding as thousands of Britney Spear’s fans crushed to witness their idol perform.
This is a perfect example of what the absence of the right queue management system can do. And this is not an isolated incident as many would like to view it. The music press has been awash with different stories of horrific queues such as the one experienced at Brighton pride.
The repercussions on the business as well as the guests of these kinds of festivals may be impossible to quantify but don’t be mistaken – having concert attendees outside an event instead of onsite can be extremely costly not only for the customers but for the concerned entity as well. And this does not only apply in musical concerts and theatrical performances only. Queue and crowd management are crucial in various settings including the supermarket, business premises, hospital environments, and parking lots. If you are able to manage queues the right way, chances are you’ll enjoy an increase in profit for whatever business you are running.
Communication: Clear Wayfinding and Effective Signage
Wayfinding signage presents users with a sort of paradox – if it’s working in an effective manner, it should not be noticed by users. Therefore, effective signage is conspicuous only through its absence, when users acknowledge how much they need wayfinding to navigate and orient urban spaces.
The power of proper signage
Irrespective of the fact that people depend on wayfinding and signage for their everyday navigation, they remain significantly unaware of the effect this has on their daily lives. And similar to other things in the world today like the internet or the smartphone, it may seem seamless and effortless on the surface, but so many resources, expertise, and research have been utilised behind the scenes to produce effective wayfinding systems.
There’s a high likelihood that you’ve encountered a directional signage in the past, but the modern signage and wayfinding include other elements which support the directional signs. This makes a lot of sense since wayfinding systems need to adjust in response to the additional demands brought about by the growing complexity of urban settings as well as the increased functions played by certain buildings with an urban environment.
The other elements that make up the modern wayfinding and signage include the ‘you are here’ maps which are used in assisting travelers to orient and plan their next step. Such cartographic maps are often simplified to a greater degree, presenting only a lower level of information needed to avoid an overload of information. When it comes to wayfinding and signage, giving too much information could be as dangerous as providing little or no information.
Belt Barriers are commonly utilised at various venues to allow for the entry and exit of those in attendance. Nonetheless, this is not the only application for a belt barrier as it has been used in queue management where there is an organised crowd. In such a case, the barriers to ensure that people entering a building to seek services or products are arranged in a straight organized manner.
Moreover, these kinds of belts have been used in retail stores, and in building to cordon off people in zones of heavy footfalls. In addition to that, barriers are incorporated to demarcate areas that are exclusive. In supermarkets and retail outlets, retractable belt barriers are used to highlight places where public access is not acceptable. By so doing, people get to know that they have a defined access within that environment and that they are not supposed to exceed certain limits, implying an efficient and much better crowd management process.
Belt Barriers as tools for managing queue are also effective for use at trade events, exhibitions, and sale. In addition to that, belt barriers help in generating proper time-management approach and incorporate a safety value to an event by restricting unauthorised entries and allowing for frisking of those entering the event.
Therefore, the management of queue becomes a prudent and easy process. Barriers not only help in saving time but also conveying better and organised arrangements to the guests of an event.
Rope barriers, like the belt barriers, are used in events for controlling crowd. For instance, at the airports where organisation and crowd control is really important. Essentially, they are used in lining routes and to prevent overcrowding in a single area. Their other benefits also include injury prevention, the prevention of aggressive behaviors, and the prevention of trampling.
On the surface, rope barriers are simple, if not primitive, queue management tool. Often, they take the form of different stands that are connected together using retractable belts. Just like the belt barriers, the rope barriers are used for demarcating the queue section, thus funneling customers into a single line or even more lines. That way, it becomes possible to prevent queue jumpers and line-cutters – and because this is a physical tool, it can be quite effective in serving that function. If you have found yourself at the center of a line marked by a rope barrier, then you understand how difficult it can be for you to leave the queue or jump someone in front of you. In other words, there is no good way for exiting a queue unless a person is at the very beginning or end of that line. Otherwise, it would be really awkward to crawl underneath the rope or step over it.
Chain posts are also equipment that plays a vital role when it comes to queue and crowd management and defining restricted zones. Most of these posts are usually designed using high-quality materials to ensure sturdiness and corrosion resistant. The good thing about these posts is that they are available in different heights, dimensions, styles, and sizes to meet the needs of various domains.
As part of the queuing barrier systems, chain posts are intelligently designed to serve various functions, from a single line to multiple line systems, allowing institutions to cater to various services. In a banking situation, for instance, the customers get into the virtual queue line as soon as they receive their tickets. Once their ticket number has been announced, the customer gets intimated using the signage solutions which makes it possible for them to approach a particular counter. To do this, they are guided using the chain posts which direct the customer towards their respective counter without creating havoc or disorganisation.
Apart from the above functions, chain posts are also used for other applications including barricading and fencing. Moreover, these posts are ideal for various events such as award shows, Independence Day celebrations, celebrations of Republic Day, among others. With a neat metallic look, chain posts can be found in various finishes including chrome, stainless steel, powder-coated, brass, and stainless steel finish to cater to various needs.
Crowd control barriers
Some events utilise temporary fencing for controlling crowd, but this is never a wise option as there could be potential trip hazards. Deciding what kinds of crowd barriers you are going to use will mainly depend on the number of people who will be attending the event as well as the layout and space of your event.
The crowd control barriers are an excellent option for queue management as they are strong, contain a non-complex interlocking system, have flat feet for reducing trip hazards and can easily be detached for storage. The equipment is often galvanised or powder-coated. Another benefit of utilising the crowd control barriers is the possibility of adding customised signage to the barriers, which is essential for branding the site or providing safety information.
These kinds of barriers should offer clear directions for those attending the event, guiding them safely towards the area of interest at the event. To achieve this, you may want to utilise barrier signage and directional signs. Security personnel stationed at strategic sections of the barrier will also help to ensure the crowd flows safely to the point of interest at the event. If you don’t have security personnel, it’s probably best to hire people with experience in crowd control to help manage the inflow of attendees. Crowd control barriers are ideal for controlling the masses, but they are not capable of preventing violent outbursts, thus the need for security personnel trained in conflict diffusion and prevention of escalation.
Given their name, it is no wonder many people associate the café barriers with drinking and eating outside during the summer or spring. While there is some truth to that, there’s more to these barrier systems than just eating and drinking. One of the greatest benefits of café barriers is that they can be used for both the outdoors and indoors.
The barriers can be used in creating designated zones for dining and smoking in a restaurant, in bars, coffee shops, and nightclubs. They can also be used as windbreakers and for queue management purposes when used outside a café or a restaurant because they create physical boundaries for certain areas.
Their function in these establishments can also help in reducing the risk of customers falling over the chairs and tables. Not only do these barriers minimize accidents from occurring, but also offers an enclosed section for your furniture, reducing the risk of damage, theft, or misuse. Although they are placed outside, the café barriers can act as excellent boundaries or demarcation zones for your business.
Another advantage of the café barriers is that they keep the dining furniture in one section of the establishment. You may also decide to use them as directional signs to guide guests or customers towards a certain direction.
Queue management is a must in any establishment as it helps prevent incidents such as violence and disorderliness from occurring. The use of physical barriers such as the belt barriers, rope barriers, café barriers, crowd control barriers, and chain posts have been instrumental in ensuring proper management of masses during events or concerts.
Additionally, queue management using physical barriers can help ensure organisation in business entities such as banking halls, supermarkets, or even hospitals. Given their varied benefits and applications, it would, therefore, be important to ensure you are able to utilise one or more of the above barriers to ensure safety and organisation and prevent the occurrence of an incident at an event or a concert.