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How Zipline Handles Visitor Check Ins
How Zipline Handles Visitor Check Ins

Learn how our system handles visits, both with and without bookings

Lex Ituarte avatar
Written by Lex Ituarte
Updated over a week ago

Zipline is designed to make the check in and check out process effortless.

In April 2021, we introduced a number of optimisations to make the experience for general visitors even easier, including:

  • Removing the "have you pre-booked?" screen.

  • Removing the need to choose the time slot.

  • Improving the handling of uncommon scenarios.

This article details how our new-and-improved system handles visits.

The Key Details

At a bird's eye view, our system has two modes when someone checks in via a Zipline kiosk:

  1. "Walk-in with no booking" – visitors enter their phone number then add all relevant details such as who they are visiting, answer any compliance questions, and choose the duration of their visit, as required by your settings.

  2. "Check-in to a booking" – visitors simply enter their phone number, confirm their booking, and answer any outstanding compliance questions.

We apply the following rules to the above scenarios to ensure a seamless check-in:

  • If there is no booking, we automatically select the next available time slot, if available, within the next hour to use as a "booked" time slot to enforce capacity restrictions. Visitors can walk-in right away.

  • If there are no time slots available based on capacity restrictions, we present a helpful alert letting visitors know they should talk to staff in case an exemption can be made.

  • We apply a three hour "grace period" from the booking start time. We have found a substantial number of visitors may come early or late, so we use this grace period to ensure they are not prevented for checking in.

  • If a visitor is more than three hours early or late to a booking, they will be presented an option to adjust their booking to bring it forward or back. Alternatively, they can make a new check-in to keep the original booking intact.

Handling Rarer Scenarios

  • This process works without any additional steps if visitors only make one visit each day. This covers 95% of Zipline visitors.

  • If a visitor has multiple visits, they will be presented all relevant bookings within the grace period and can choose which one they will check in to.

  • If a visitor is more than three hours early or late to a booking, they will be presented an option to adjust their booking to bring it forward or back. Alternatively, they can make a new check-in to keep the original booking intact.

The Granular Details

This section provides a more comprehensive view of how our system handles visits. It details the changes that have been made in April 2021 to improve the visitor experience.

Improvements to Walk-In With No Booking

Time Slot Picking

  • Our booking system works on available time slots, helping enforce your restrictions. As time slots are a window of time, when a visitor checks in with no booking, we apply a series of rules to automatically choose a time slot and make sure they can check in smoothly.

  • Time slot picking rules only apply if you have limits on the number of visitors or maximum duration of visits.

  • If you have limits set up, we first ask the visitor how long they plan to stay, honouring your time slots and maximum booking time.

  • We then automatically picking the next available forward time slot by:

    • Looking within a grace period (from the current time, forward to the booking slot start time). This grace period is currently set to 40 minutes.

      • Example: If a visitor tries to check-in at 3.01pm for a one hour visit, and the 3.15pm-4.15pm time slot is taken, but the 3.30pm-4.30pm time slot is available, then we pick the 3.30pm-4.30pm time slot.

      • If time slot intervals are set to greater than 40 minutes (e.g. 1 hour), then the system will use this setting as the grace period.

    • If no forward time slots are available within the grace period, then we pick the current time slot if it is available.

      • Example: If a visitor a) arrives at 4.01pm where the facility closes at 5pm, and b) wants to visit for one hour, then we pick the 4pm-5pm time slot.

      • Example: If a visitor a) arrives at 2.22pm, and b) wants to visit for 30 minutes, but the 2.30pm-3.00pm and 2.45pm-3.15pm time slots are taken, then we pick the 2.15pm-2.45pm time slot if it's available.

    • A visitor can immediately enter the facility, as long as they are within the grace period before the booking slot start time. We record the exact entry time for compliance, and print it on the visitor badge (if you are using Zipline Printers).

  • In the rare case there are no slots available, we prompt the visitor to speak with staff. Your staff are then able to decide whether it is possible to make an exception for this visitor and check them in through the portal, depending on your policy and the circumstances.

  • Note, slots that are booked will always affect availability of slots, regardless of whether those visitors have checked in, checked out, etc.

Improvements to Check-In With A Booking

The goal of our check-in system is to make it as easy as possible for the typical visitor to check-in. For the 95% of Zipline visitors who only have one booking or walk-in a day, they will simply enter their phone number, then either confirm their booking, or in the case of a walk-in, specify who they are visiting, where and for how long. All visitors will also be asked to meet any compliance requirement you have turned on, such as the health declaration or vaccinations.

With any check-in system, there can be uncommon scenarios that create challenges for a small portion of visitors. In April 2021, we redesigned our system to ensure a smooth experience for the 5% of visitors who may have multiple visits a day or run into other uncommon issues.

Multiple Visits Per Day

  • Previously, multiple visits could in certain cases result in an error message, preventing the visitor from checking in.

  • Now, if a visitor enters their phone number and we find multiple bookings within the same day, then we present all relevant bookings, as long as there is one within the grace period.

    • The booking closest to the arrival time is selected by default, with any bookings outside the grace period shown as "greyed" out for context. The visitor selects "Next" to confirm the booking and check-in.

    • Example: If a visitor shows up at 9.30am and has a booking from 10am-11am and 1pm-3pm. They would see a screen with the first booking selected and the second booking greyed out, then be able to confirm the first booking and check-in.

    • Note: If a booking has been checked out of, it will no longer appear in the booking list.

  • We have also optimised for the "pop out" scenario.

    • Example: If a visitor comes in at 9.30am, then wants to check out with a resident to get coffee for an hour at 11am, they will also be able to check back in 12pm (regardless of whether they forgot to check out).

Checking In Early or Late

  • This situation occurs when there are bookings are found for the visitor, but none are found within the grace period.

  • Previously, a visitor showing up at 9.18am for a 1pm-2pm booking would be stopped from checking in altogether.

  • Now, visitors will be shown a list of their bookings with following options:

    • If they are early, they can "edit" to bring the booking forward to the current time. If they are late, they can "edit" to bring the booking back to the current time. This option will pop up so long as the nearest upcoming time slot is free (e.g. the 9.30am slot if it's currently 9.18am). When a visitor chooses to "edit" a booking, they simply pick the duration they wish to stay, then proceed to complete any compliance steps.

      • Example: If a visitor showing up at 9.18am for a 1pm-2pm booking, they could bring the booking forward to the slot starting at 9.30am, freeing up afternoon slots for other visitors.

    • Alternatively, create a new check-in (keeping the original booking intact). When a visitor chooses to "create a new check-in", they simply pick the duration they wish to stay, then proceed to complete any compliance steps.

      • Example: This might be handy if a visitor decides to pop in while they are in the area at 9am, but still wants to visit later in the day for their booking at 5pm-6pm.

    • Very rarely, one or more bookings that the visitor is too early or late for are found, but there are no time slots currently available. In this case, the visitor will still be shown their bookings for context, but a helpful message will pop up telling them to speak to staff. Staff can then still allow them to visit (and check them in via the portal) if it is possible.

Already Checked In / Forgot to Sign Out

  • Previously, if a visitor tried to check in again and they had not checked out, they would receive an error message.

  • Now, visitors who try to check in to the same honoured booking will presented with an option to select their original booking and check in to that again, so long as they are within the grace period. The first check-in time will be kept intact for compliance purposes.

  • Example: If Jane checked into her 1pm-2pm booking at 12.47pm, then left without checking out, then came back at 2.03pm, we: a) sign her into that booking, b) keep the sign in time 12.47pm.

Improved Check Out

  • Previously, visitors could sometimes see an error that prevented them from signing out for longer visits or when checking out late.

  • Now, visitors will be checked out of the most recent check in found in the system, so they will always be able to check out. This will also include the ability to check out of any visits from the previous day (to help with overnight visit scenarios).

Understanding The Grace Period

  • The grace period is how early or late someone can arrive from the booking start time, while still being able to check in to their existing booking via a Zipline kiosk.

  • Our default grace period is three hours. We have found that a small but significant portion of visitors will arrive quite early or late, so in order to optimise visitor experience, we have a lenient grace period.

  • This grace period prevents, for example, someone who is two hours early needing to make a new booking. This also frees up booking slots in the system for other visitors, as the original booking slot is still used.

  • Visitors who are within the grace period will be able to check in to their existing booking.

  • We always record the actual check in and check out time for contact tracing purposes.

  • If a location does not have restrictions for duration or visitor numbers turned on, we consider all bookings to be within the grace period.

  • In the future, we plan to make this grace period configurable to cater for tighter and looser policy preferences.

Check-In Via The Portal

Check ins via the portal are possible on all bookings that have not yet been checked into. Admin portal users are able to check in visitors at any time. When this occurs, the original time slot used in the booking is used to enforce restrictions (e.g. if a visitor is signed in at 2.01pm for their 4pm-5pm booking, the 4pm-5pm time slot is still being used).

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