In the wild world of live sports events, the most intense preparation work isn’t done by the teams or the coaching staff…it’s performed by the event organizers.
Specifically, one of the biggest challenges is the administration and management of credentials. We’re talking about a job that involves a lot of people, data, and planning that is arguably more difficult to master than Phil Jackson’s infamous triangle offense.
Thankfully there are sports credential software solutions available that can bring order to the chaos that is credential management. Since secure credentialing is your first line of defense in protecting the safety and integrity of your event, the importance of investing in the correct event technology is absolutely critical.
However, the vast majority of sports events today are still managing their processes with spreadsheets which while cost effective, present bottlenecks in terms of communication, collaboration, efficiency and visibility. In a recent survey of sport event leaders, we we shocked to find over 50% of teams manage their credentials with spreadsheets.
The first step towards change is to understand what options you have available. This article will take a closer look at some of the top players in the sports accreditation management space.
What is sports credential management?
The purpose for establishing a credentialing program is to control and restrict access to a venue, and provide venue management with information on those who have access. We are focused on everyone on-site who is not simply a ticket purchasing attendee.
Event organizers need to be able to designate zones for constituents in order to provide the appropriate access to staff, media, players, and personnel. It is essential to provide high-profile individuals with the assurance that they are safe on-site which requires vetting each person who is behind the scenes.
Why credential management software?
From onboarding to fulfillment, the entire process needs to be managed through a consistent and reliable database. Using credentialing software can ease the burden on event organizers by organizing data in a centralized location, automating certain administrative tasks, and ultimately empowering event teams to operate with confidence.
In our state of credential management survey, we found that teams are putting a renewed focus on investments in technology with their budgets in 2022:
Employing the proper system can make or break the event staff’s ability to make prudent judgements on-site which have direct consequences on safety and security for all involved.
The software solutions available have inherent strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a look at the most popular options on the market today and how they stack up against one another:
Option # 1. Lennd
Lennd is a technology company that builds infrastructure to help bring events of every size to life. From small music festivals to major conferences, sports gatherings and everything in between—event leaders across the globe trust our software to manage their event operations and provide their people with one streamlined experience.
Lennd is hands down the most comprehensive platform that exists for sports event organizers. Fans of the software enjoy the modern look and feel of the Lennd platform as it is constantly evolving and improving the credentialing process.
Key features of Lennd:
Modern & Intuitive Admin Interface
The problem all event organizers have is that there is a variety of user types and abilities when administering credentials and accreditation. Organizers have everyone from volunteers, to VP of Ops to vendors, media members and sponsors interacting with your credentialing system in some form or another.
A modern, fast interface improves training and implementation time, increases decision making speed and drastically can reduce errors, especially in the lead up to the event. As credential professionals, we deserve the most intuitive technology to improve the safety and security of all constituents.
Automated & Unified SMS & Email Communication Tools
We've learned over the years that access control problems often are a result of poor communication. We have found it is imperative that the credentialing system leads the way when it comes to communication. Whether it be reminders to department heads or end users that have not submitted certain requests, to real-time alerts on-site, to having the filtering power to narrow down to a certain type of constituent and send a message specific to them.
Real-time communication tools are critical.
You also want a platform to meet the end users where they are at. Therefore the credential platform needs to be able to send custom bulk emails or SMS, while also showing you a history of communication.
A System for Credential Management (and beyond)
Lennd’s system helps manage all credentials, passes and access controls needs in one place. Whether you want to centralize orders, track the status of your credentials or approve requests, it’s all possible within Lennd.
However, any event operator knows that credentials and accreditation are often part of a larger on-boarding process for many individuals coming on-site. Often, the credentialing task is treated independently from the collection and management of other critical details, such as parking, catering, asset orders, transportation details, health assessments, hotel details, key documents, FAQ's, etc.
There are circumstances when you may want to give your media outlets the ability to request and order another parking spot, or allow your sponsors to order additional equipment. Maybe you want your key staff to be able to request an additional night of hotel accommodations, or to let your sponsors easily add or change a name of one of their guests, or how about empowering vendors to easily submit a certificate of insurance or have a specific FAQ section for each type of user.
Integrations with other Systems
Without compatibility with your other software systems, your credentialing software is just another place you have to store and manage your people and data. That’s why your credential management system needs to have the API functionality to integrate with other systems (especially with ticketing and RFID). We have learned that the best experience for our partners is when they can use the tools they want, but have it integrated into one place.
Reporting, Dashboards & Permissions
The credentials and accreditation team has many users that need to have a variety of access profiles. The Lennd system is built to address the dynamic nature of your team and give certain people certain access and others not. Lennd allows our partners to individually customize the dashboards and information they deem most critical, simplifying what a user sees based on what they need to see.
This unique design is what makes the Lennd platform so user friendly for event teams and their end users. It provides credential and database managers full control over what their constituents can see and do within the system, as well as on-site at the touch of a button.
Next up is Sports Systems, which got started in the 90’s as a “computer based faxing” solution for leagues looking to aggregate player data. Eventually they moved into accreditation solutions for sporting events.
They were acquired by TicketManager earlier this year, so it is unclear whether this may have a long term impact on the direction of the product they provide.
The primary advantage to the Sports Systems event technology are the sponsorship asset management capabilities and they are also well versed in credential management. Recently, they have also developed tools to help streamline and manage aspects of event onboarding specific to COVID-19..
Overall the Sports Systems interface can feel a bit outdated and less intuitive as a credential management software.
Key features of Sports Systems:
Sports systems has a set of tools to help simplify complex processes to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. From off-site daily health screens to build access control and data collection and management—Sports systems helps event teams reactivate their events and keep their people safe in the process.
Sponsorship management & activation
Boost engagement with sponsors, effectively communicate and improve the usage of valuable sponsorship rights and assets in a single, customized, private portal. With Sports Systems you can maximize sponsorship investments, provide a superior guest experience and ensure you’re staying compliant. You can also manage multiple sponsorships and events within the system.
With Sports Systems, leagues, sports teams, and events can streamline data collection, processing, communications and badge production through a single online portal. By staying in one system, it provides secure and accurate data collection. Plus it supports bulk badge download and printing, on-site check in, and automated, customizable emails.
Reporting & Administration
Take control of your entire event data management universe. Event teams and administrators gain full control of collected data to deliver a seamless event. The system supports the easy creation, customization and sharing of an unlimited number of real-time reports.
Ardian Group is a software solution that has a very narrow focus on contactless credentials. Their biggest selling point is the management of sensitive data. The scope of clients they work with puts them outside of the soley sports credential management software category which is worth noting.
Essentially, Ardian Group is providing accreditation software with a focus on secure credentialing and data management. They provide “unique identifier tags and RFID scanners can provide contactless ticket acquisition, touchless entry and checkpoint validation processes for communities, attendees and staff”.
Key Features of Ardian Group:
Contactless Credentials & Ticketing
Ardian’s tools include Identity, security clearance and health status data capabilities. Their system integrates with unique identifier tags and RFID scanners to help provide contactless ticket acquisition, touchless entry and checkpoint validation processes.
Health and Safety Integration
Ensure your staff, partners and organizers stay safe and healthy. Ardian integrates with health-screening technology to help you stay compliant and provide you with peace of mind.
Sensitive Data Engagement
Ardian uses data capture and utilization tools to help teams access real-time reporting and sharing of sensitive community, attendee and staff data. Event teams enjoy easy access to a centralized system that enables critical collaboration and quick deployment of resources.
Accredit Solutions is a UK based company that works with European sports leagues and tournaments in providing access control for staff and media. Their platform allows for data registration, contact management, and security badge creation via templates.
They also boast providing organization audits via written reports. Accredit Solutions will analyze your company’s accreditation process and give feedback for improvement. It is listed as a separate service from their credentialing solution on their website, and appears to be a separate cost as such.
Finally, they provide a Covid-19 tool called Accredit-Go which is meant to help overcome the challenges of managing the pandemic related issues that exist on-site.
Key Features of Accredit Solutions:
Accredit solutions access control feature works on a variety of mobile scanning devices and can be downloaded as an app to work on smartphone devices and tablets. The Access Control tool is designed to be user friendly so staff can operate with ease and efficiency with limited training to operate the system onsite at events. It displays a real-time verification indicating whether the Accreditation record is successful or failed.
Event teams can ensure their staff and contractors are safe to be onsite with Accredit’s Covid tools that allow them to submit medical and travel information before they attend in-person. Collect and manage health data to ensure the health and safety of your people. Manage capacities by controlling access and record exactly who, where and when, someone has been in the event.
To help an organization understand the impact of their current practices on security, safety and operational efficiency, Accredit Solutions provides auditing tools to assess the situation. Event teams will gain a written report by one of their accreditation specialists to highlight any areas for improvement and ensure you comply with best practices.
Choosing the Best Sports Accreditation Software for Your Event
Investing in a sports accreditation software can provide your team with a new level of visibility, efficiency and collaboration. When you ensure secure credentialing of your event, that also means a smoother experience for your #1 asset—your people.
When reviewing your options, look for features to support your needs today, with the ability to scale and support your team in these unprecedented times.