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[New Data] 10 Trends Shaping The Future of Credential Management

by Erin Chesterton
on January 26, 2022
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At the end of 2021, Lennd partnered with ID&C to conduct a comprehensive survey analysis of sports event operators on the current state, and prospective future, of credential management technology. Our goal was to better understand the landscape of sports event technology post-pandemic. The survey aimed to uncover the current tools commonplace for credential management, where teams want to improve, and how they plan to invest in technology as we move into 2022.

Our results were surprising, insightful, and revealing. Many assumptions we had going into the research were shaken, which is ultimately the purpose of this type of investigation. Now that we have compiled and analyzed the results, it is time to share this collected wisdom with our friends across the sports credential community. Let's get started!

Who participated in this survey? 

Through our research we found that most respondents were independent contractors (34.6%) working as a credential manager (34.6%) or in a generalized event operations role (34.6%). The next largest group of respondents were event planners (11.5%) and event managers (15.4%). The rest of our respondents were in various roles ranging from security, marketing, ticketing, IT, and broadcast to name a few.

Risky Spreadsheets (Still) Reign Supreme, For Now...

It was a bit of a shock to find that over half of those polled (53.8%) were still relying on spreadsheets in some capacity, with many entirely relying on them for their credential management. The remaining 46.2% of respondents were using a dedicated credential management tool with Lennd being one of the most popular platforms at 15.4%.

Relying primarily on spreadsheets to manage credentials is borderline reckless. The workflow quickly unravels into an un-intuitive mess as your event starts to grow. Multiply that headache with the complications of COVID compliance, and you are willingly putting the safety and security of your next mass sports gathering in peril.

There are also hidden costs of relying on spreadsheets for credential management that are so pervasive it can be hard to truly quantify. What we do know is that they breed inefficient and error prone processes that prevent event operators from streamlining and simplifying their credential management.  

What could be MOST improved upon based on the current technology or tools you are currently using for credential management?

Infographic 1

As you'll see from the rest of our research, those still leaning on spreadsheets as a pillar of their process know they need to switch to a dedicated credential management platform. The real question for most is, "Which solution is best designed for the future of credential management?"

Current Tech Falls Short of Expectations 

23.1% of respondents said that their current system for credential management was outdated, difficult to learn, and hard to navigate. 11.5% of respondents said their current system has difficulty or a complete inability to integrate with RFID technology. Another 11.5% of respondents said their technology is missing reporting and data management capabilities. An additional 11.5% said their technology is missing real-time communication tools such as email, sms, etc. for on-site connection.

What could be MOST improved upon based on the current technology or tools you are currently using for credential management?



Pandemic Breeds Disjointed Data & Budget Constraints

The majority was split when it came to the question of “the biggest challenge post-pandemic” in terms of credential management. The number one response came down to monetary resources, with 30.8% saying a lack of budget for the added expense of safety and social distancing infrastructure/tools/materials was the thing that affected them most. Second was the “accuracy of the data across disjointed systems” at 26.9% of respondents. The third largest response came in at  19.2% who found their biggest challenge was  integrating their credential management system with an RFID technology provider.

What is the BIGGEST challenge you’ve faced with credential management post-pandemic?

biggest challenge-1

COVID Impacts Process Proficiency (For Most)

Next we looked at the nature of the credential process for organizations in sports, and whether they experienced a bump or a dip in proficiency post-pandemic. Of those polled, 38.5% said  that their process had become less effective due to COVID. The next largest percentage, 30.8%, said their process had ultimately not been impacted at all by COVID.

How has your credential process changed since COVID in terms of proficiency?

Covid Impact-1


An interesting portion, 15.4%, of those asked said their process had become more proficient due to COVID and 11.5% claimed their process had become much more proficient post-pandemic. Finally, the smallest percentage of those polled, 3.8%, said their process had become much less  proficient due to COVID. 

Sustained & Increased Budgets Forecasted in 2022

An important question we wanted to address was budget projections for the next 6-12 months regarding credential management technology spending. Will organizations and leagues be looking at beefing up their tools, or  will they continue to invest the same amount they have in past years? Or could there be a negative hit to budgets for the near future?

Do you foresee budgets for credential management technology increasing, decreasing, or staying the same over the next 6-12 months?

Tech Fixed Fixed

This one was pretty evenly split. Exactly 50% of those polled  foresee budgets staying the same for credential management technology over the next 6-12 months. Another 46.2% said that they foresee budgets increasing for credential management technology over the next 6-12 months. A small 3.8% of respondents foresee a decrease in spending over the next 6-12 months. 

The takeaway we see is that nearly half of the sports event operators will be looking at investing in new technology in 2022 to adapt to the changing environment and need for more efficiency. 

Job Duties Vary Drastically Among Organizations

Nearly half (46.2%) of those polled said they are currently managing their entire credentialing process through one singular database manager, while over a third (34.6%) of respondents said that their process is  distributed across multiple departments. Among the responses  to the question of who runs the credential management for these sporting events, different opinions on what works best and what is most preferable were expressed.

Do you manage credentials through one singular database manager, or across various department heads (i.e. sponsors, staff, media, VIPS)?


Some cited having one person in charge of the entire process as being ideal, while others expressed concern with the amount of work this person has to handle by themselves. There was a desire expressed to distribute the responsibility among department heads,  but that there are some security concerns with this approach.

Security Costs Come Back Under the Microscope 

When it comes to credential approval, half of all respondents said that their primary concern when approving credentials is security costs related to the (wrong people getting backstage etc.) 19.2% cited the concern of safety and capacity costs, such as fire hazards and capacity issues due to overcrowding.

When approving credentials, what are you and your team most concerned about?

Big concern

Another 11.5% found that their primary concern with approvals was directly correlated with COVID health concerns, from vaccine status to exposure and  health tracking in general. Finally, 7.7% were most concerned with giving away too many free credentials, leading to lost revenue for the event and organization. Smaller proportions of those polled found a combination of these factors as most concerning when considering approving credentials.

Pandemic Forces a Renewed Emphasis on Data Management

With the onslaught of new regulations and requirements, additional layers of access presented by COVID-19 proved challenging for credential pros. 69.2 % confirmed that collecting information for credentials such as headshots and vaccination cards accurately had become more important, and much more important (34.6% and  34.6% respectively). An interesting quarter of respondents (26.9%) found that there  was no impact on the need for accurate data collection.

Has the accuracy of your data collection process become more important since COVID? (i.e. gathering headshots, vaccination cards, etc.)

more important

How about the importance of accurate data collection post-pandemic? The findings are pretty intuitive, with a combined 69.2 % confirming that collecting information for credentials such as headshots and vaccination cards accurately had become more important, and much more important (34.6% and  34.6% respectively). An interesting quarter of respondents (26.9%) found that there  was no impact on the need for accurate data collection.

Big Bucks Will be Spent on Strategy & Tech in 2022

When asked where the area of focus would be for investment in 2022, the biggest majority  (34.6%)  of respondents seemed to be eyeing a “wait and see” approach. Specifically, they cited a strategy which would allow them to adapt to the constantly changing nature of continued COVID concerns and the needs that arise from that response.

Where do you plan on investing more of your event budget as a whole in 2022?


The next largest majority of respondents (26.9%) indicated that their focus would be on technology, to streamline and simplify outdated tools and systems in 2022. The next two groups were split with 15.4% saying they  plan on investing in staffing in hopes of finding more seasoned/experienced employees to work their events, and the other 15.4% was focused on investing in their customers by building a sense of community. Finally, 7.7% of respondents said they would be reinvesting in their current team’s wellbeing. 

Digital Leads the Way—Don't Overlook RFID

A margin of 34.6% of respondents are considering adding RFID to their access control process as a response to COVID. Meanwhile, 11.5% of those polled said that they would be looking at a digital credential solution in response to the pandemic, and the remaining respondents were considering a wide variety of technologies including facial recognition and biometric data to name a few. 

Because of COVID are you considering any other type of access control technology?


Lennd—the Leader in Accreditation Management for Sports Events

The future of accreditation is coming and the old days operating across multiple systems, disjointed data and outdated spreadsheets will soon be a thing of the past. By investing in one centralized credential management system you can double down on security while providing your people one seamless experience that helps you stay organized and makes them self sufficient. 

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