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Dec 7, 2020

Moving Forward: Considerations and Best Practices for Contactless Entry

Not all that long ago, venue access was all about speed and providing guests a more frictionless entry experience. Digital ticketing, predominantly barcode-based, was “fire,” as my 7-year old son would say. Organizations were doing everything possible to increase mobile ticket adoption while avoiding pitfalls commonly associated with lackadaisical staff armed with handhelds.

What followed over the next 3-4 years was a massive shift toward purpose-built, self-service entry technologies such as Alvarado’s IntraQ Portable Pedestals. The results were plentiful: less reliance on staff, dramatically faster ingress speeds, accurate attendance counts, better engagement with guests, increased security, and so on. The rollout of true NFC “tap-and-go” tickets in the past year is like putting self-service ticket scanners on steroids. It’s a perfect marriage of technologies.

Fast forward to today, and the reasons for implementing self-service entry solutions have shifted a bit. Of course, venues still desire an efficient entry experience. More importantly, they need the ability to minimize close personal interactions, support social distancing, and provide a safe and hygienic experience for guests and staff alike.

Key objectives include:

  • Portable products that can be spaced to meet changing social distancing requirements
  • Products that minimize interactions between guests and staff during the entry process
  • Products that allow staff to focus on more than validating tickets
  • High throughput with a frictionless experience for guests/fans
  • Products that eliminate or certainly minimize any touching/contact during the entry process


alvarado-blog_120720_body-email1.jpgConsiderations + best practices for a smooth transition to contactless entry.


  • Focus on primary entry, secondary entry, suites, or all of the above?
  • How much space do I have available? • What are my goals in terms of overall staff reductions (if any)?
  • Quality of network communication? Wired? Wireless? PoE? Hybrid?
  • Fixed or portable? Rechargeable battery-operated or plug-in AC power? • Will the devices be used indoors, outdoors, or both?
  • Are the products being considered purpose-built solutions and fully vetted by industry peers?
  • Is there a particular look/aesthetic to be achieved?
  • What all is required for operation? Additional software/server? Extra devices?
  • If portable, can the products be easily changed for use at multiple venues?



  • What types of media will be distributed to guests for entry?
    • Mobile-only? Mobile + physical stock? Wearables?
    • Barcode only? Barcode + RFID/NFC?
  • How easy is it for guests to self-scan their preferred media type for touch-free entry?


alvarado-blog_120720_body-email3a.jpg“Tap-and-Go!” DIGITAL WALLET INTEGRATION

Alvarado’s intelligent admission devices now feature the ultimate “tap-and-go” support for Apple VAS, Google Smart Tap, and MIFARE smart tickets. Using highly secure NFC digital credentials, fans no longer have to fumble around trying to find the correct ticket on their phone. Instead, guests present their phone or smartwatch to an Alvarado device to automatically display the correct ticket. Once authenticated, the ticket is validated for entry.



A single staff member can monitor multiple devices with a properly designed self-service entry solution while also observing surroundings. Depending on how substantial staff reductions are factors into whether a venue opts for increased portability/convenience or physical security. Portable/wireless/battery-operated pedestals offer more of a hybrid approach, while turnstiles afford increased autonomous control. In either case, the fully integrated validation terminals display custom, easy-to-read messages to guests as they enter while freeing up staff to perform other safety or security measures (i.e., temperature checks, distribute masks/sanitizer). In the examples below, staff members can monitor multiple portable pedestals or turnstiles from a distance.

Barrier-Free Guest Entry

alvarado-blog_120720_body-email4.jpgIntraQ Portable Pedestal Example: One staff member per two pedestals with the ability reposition based on crowd volume


Secured Guest Entry

alvarado-blog_120720_body-email5.jpgIntraQ-SU5000 Speed Lane Example: One staff member per four lanes with gaps for guest assistance as needed




There are essentially two schools of thought when it comes to third party integration. One approach uses server-based software where ticket data must be shared/updated near real-time for proper operation. This may be a better option when the back-end ticketing system has limited and/or zero access control functionality. It’s a more complex approach that often requires additional software licenses, hardware infrastructure, and local expertise.



That being said, leading system providers such as Paciolan continue to invest significant development resources in venue access control. Data collection, security, and fraud prevention are 100% mission-critical. Knowing who is in your venue at any given time, where they enter, how they enter, how often they visit (or don’t visit), and so on provides a ton of valuable insight. It is for these very reasons why direct “plug-and-play” integration reigns supreme. Everything happens in real-time without all the possible extra clunk, headaches, and costs associated with a middleware approach.




deviceMgmt.pngIn addition to system integration, one essential item that can often be overlooked is managing devices post-deployment. User-friendly touchscreen interfaces are typical for making changes on the fly, especially for portable product variations. Any other changes may require more substantial steps that can be more problematic for larger-scale rollouts.

This is where more elaborate solutions are needed. For example, Alvarado offers a robust device management tool called GateUtility to use all its products at no additional charge. Such a mechanism allows for remote control, unlock doors/turnstiles, change images, and system updates, to name a few.



Users having little to no prior experience with products tailor-made for self-service operation often report back an array of different benefits that they had not planned for initially. Benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:  alvarado-blog_120720_body-email6.jpg

  • Touch-free/contactless/socially distanced operation
  • Improved guest engagement (no more eyes down – staff more welcoming/service-oriented)
  • Increased safety/security (staff more attentive to fraud attempts or questionable behavior)
  • Less overall reliance on staff (i.e., no-shows, degrading performance)
  • Sponsor activation via guest-facing displays (up to 10 rotating images in Alvarado’s case)
  • Sponsor activation via static signage/vinyl wraps on equipment
  • Dramatically increased accuracy on attendance counts
  • No breaks necessary for bathroom, coffee, water, etc. – the products do their job
  • Reduced confrontation between guests and staff



The good news is a prospective new user of self-service, contactless entry now has an extensive network of industry colleagues to draw from for firsthand experience. Such input is valuable for making a purchase and operational decisions and for manufacturers like Alvarado for product and software development purposes. Everyone stands to benefit from an ever-growing user base that drives new feature sets and enhancements. Example users include:




With nearly 25 years’ experience providing admission devices and access control software, Alvarado’s contactless, self-validating products help venues around the globe transform the access control process throughout the facility. To see Alvarado’s full portfolio of intelligent admission devices and access control solutions, visit www.alvaradomfg.com.