Access Visitor Management Systems Guide

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on May 11, 2018

"Who are you, and why are you here?"

Facilities that implement Visitor Management Systems hope they never need to ask that question to anyone, ever. While access control goes to great lengths to make sure only approved personnel are able to enter approved areas, they hardly ever handle 'temporary access' well.

For that, Visitor Management fills a niche, and claim to do a better job than the old, proven clipboard sign in sheets.

In this note, we examine visitor management systems, their common features, and how they are best deployed.

Three Goals

For every visitor management system, there are three basic goals for the system:

  • Accountability: No one is allowed to enter the site without first logging it. This guarantees that no unidentified person is wandering around a potentially dangerous or sensitive site, but it also matches that visitor with a specific sponsor, typically a permanent employee. This makes sure that the visitor's business is directly tied to a meaningful task and often results in a fully escorted visit while onsite, increasing site security.
  • Visibility: While ID Badges and access credentials may only be issued to permanent employees, most visitor management systems include temporary badging, good for printing inexpensive labels worn for a few hours that make it clear someone is indeed a 'Visitor'. If someone is observed onsite that has neither a permanent ID or temporary visitor badge displayed, they very quickly can be identified by guardstaff as potential intruders.
  • Quickness: Large facilities may be faced with handling hundreds, even thousands, of visitors per hour. Especially for high-security facilities like military bases or critical infrastructure sites, quickly processing valid large volumes of visitors is essential for timely visits, reduced service costs, and keeping tight appointment times.

Additionally, most visitor managements systems keep logs of visitor activity and the scope of why they visit.

Self-Service Is Key

A common aspect of visitor management systems are they are designed to be used by visitors with only basic familiarity with computers. Visitors are often only prompted to answer basic details about themselves, with the integrated system working behind the scenes to provision access control settings, notify other users of activity/visits, and otherwise log the activity in the central access system.

Visitors are often asked to input details themselves, without intervention or need of other employees to manage the process:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Because of this, a variety of other systems, including physical access control, accounting, and vendor performance, may be integrated.

Common Components

While the exact mix of hardware and software needed for the system vary, most systems use these basic components:

Here is an overview of each one:

Workstation & Client Software

The central software is PC, tablet, or kiosk based, often networked to an access control management server, and most enrollment stations center around the data entry workstation.

From this point, visitors are 'enrolled' into the system, and often provisioned access permissions through specific openings or into controlled areas. This main console is where all the following peripherals are connected, as visitors often input their data or have pictures taken for whatever form of visitor credential they are issued.

ID "Mugshot" Camera

A camera provides visual record of a visitor, and even paper badge labels generally include a small black and white printout of the credentialed visitor. Some platforms use purpose built 'ID cameras', while other systems use common webcams of even surveillance cameras to collect mugshot images.

Paper Badge Printer

The end result is a temporary credential printed on a label marker. (See example below.) The composition of the badge makes the wearer's identity as visitor clear, and may include barcodes for provisional logical/physical access and include the expiry date.

The 'temporary' paper label visitor badges often resemble the example below:

Barcode Scanner

If the barcode printed on visitor badges need to be enrolled in other systems, the enrollment station includes a reader to scan the badge into information or asset tracking systems giving the wearer provisional privileges to use access protected systems.

D/L or ID Reader

In some systems, an optical or magstripe reader that can read general ID badges, like Driver's Licenses (D/L) or Government Common Access Cards (CAC) contain values that can be pulled into the visitor management system.

In many cases, the information collected by these readers/scanners is OCR'd or otherwise electronically transferred to a temporary visitor credential.

System Costs

In general, the cost of a visitor management system includes software, hardware, and supply items like labels and ink. In some cases, Visitor Management may be a default (free) element of an access system, in other cases it may be offered as an extra module, or it may be a 3rd party app.

The actual costs vary on the exact configuration and level of integration with other systems, but ball park costs range about ~$2,000 - $5000 per enrollment station including all software, licenses, and peripherals/supplies. Some common platforms include:

  • HID's EasyLobby: The most commonly used system, its cost ranges from ~$2000-$8000 per station (typically one per building). Price depends on level of integration with mobile readers, cloud servers, and asset scheduling programs (meeting rooms, vehicles) or physical security systems like access control.
  • Jolly Technologies 'LobbyTrack':With single site cloud based options running ~$100/month, up to 'Enterprise' multisite network server based versions costing $8,000 Jolly's VMS integrates with many access control systems including AMAG, Brivo, DSX, Kantech, Lenel, S2 Security, and Software House C-Cure.

Other options are available as extensions or modules of ERP or Subcontractor Management systems, but the needed basic components are the same.


Not everyone needs a Visitor Management system. Even facilities with aggressive access control may not need to implement visitor management beyond a well-policed clipboard system. However, the buildings that stand to benefit most from Visitor Management include:

  • Large Visitor Volume: Where booking visitors requires devoting labor hours to the task, a Visitor Management system can gain efficiency. With simplified data entry, sponsors doing 'pre-checkin' paperwork, and stored record access, sites can significantly speed up the process of getting visitors onsite quickly without compromising other security policies.
  • High Security: Anywhere that places a premium on knowing the identity/business of EVERY individual onsite could use Visitor Management to make administration of the policy easier, and use the temporary ID badges to reduce the cost of credentialing every user.
  • High Liability: Many sites contain dangerous locations. Furthermore, any visitor onsite may need to file proof of insurance or be recorded onsite to be covered by existing policies. Visitor management creates or manages these records.
  • Repeat Visitors: In some cases, visitors are frequent guests. Rather than spending time every visit manually entering repetitive information, visitor management retains the information and can mean recurring visitors are able to conduct their business more efficiently.

[Note: This guide was originally written in 2014, but substantially updated in 2018.]

9 reports cite this report:

Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used that can help zero-in and discover potential Coronavirus hotspots in a...
Access Control Door Controllers Guide on Oct 22, 2019
Door controllers are at the center of physical access control systems connecting software, readers, and locks. Despite being buried inside...
Access Control Mustering Guide on Sep 30, 2019
In emergencies, determining where employees are located can be critical for knowing whether they are in danger. Access systems can be used for...
HID Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 21, 2019
HID favorability results were strong, in the 2019 IPVM integrator study of 200+ integrators, with a net +62% and low negativity as the table below...
Axis: Use QR Codes Instead of Access Cards on Sep 12, 2017
Innovation in access may be hard to find, but Axis recently suggested an idea for credentials few have considered. Rather than using plastic cards,...
Solutions to 5 Common Access Control Problems on Nov 21, 2016
Effective security is more than just good equipment. In fact, thousands of dollars in electronic access control can be wasted if they are not used...
AMAG 8 Aims to Make Takeovers Easier on Nov 03, 2014
In this note, we examine AMAG 8's new additions, breaking down how it impacts their competitive positioning. [premium_content] Market...
Access Control Server Guide on Sep 09, 2014
Electronic access control systems need to be managed. The 'server' though can range across: Panel based / 'serverless' systems Combo...
Favorite Access Control Credentials 2014 on Jul 11, 2014
When it comes to the most popular way to unlock a door, which access credential type holds the favored spot among integrators? The 'contenders'...
Comments (11) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used that can help zero-in and discover potential Coronavirus hotspots in a...
Breaking Into A Facility Using Canned Air Tested on Jan 28, 2020
Access control is supposed to make doors more secure, but a $5 can of compressed air may defeat it. With no special training, intruders can...
Hotel Access Control Explained on Dec 23, 2019
Hotel access control does not work like typical commercial access control because doors in hotels are not typically directly connected to a central...
The Access Control Codes Guide: IBC, NFPA 72, 80 & 101 on Nov 07, 2019
For access, there is one basic maxim: Life safety above all else. But how do you know if all applicable codes are being followed? While the...
Startup SafePass Profile on Oct 19, 2018
A major problem with visitor management is that the systems mostly require adhesive printed paper labels and paper logs, creating waste and an...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Sep 27, 2018
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all of physical security is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Often,...
Integrator Technician Field Software Usage (Statistics) on May 07, 2018
Maintaining accurate notes and documentation from field technicans is a difficult and important task for a security integrator operation. Keeping...
Access Control Levels and Schedules Tutorial on May 01, 2018
Configuring access levels and setting up schedules is central to maintaining facility security. Many people may need to enter areas but most do not...
Key Control For Access Control Tutorial on Apr 16, 2018
End users spend thousands on advanced systems to keep themselves secure, but regularly neglect one of the least expensive yet most important...
Camera Vandalism Statistics on Aug 01, 2017
Vandalized cameras are a common concern. And when they happen, they often draw media attention. But how often and how much of a problem is...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Verkada: "IPVM Should Never Be Your Source of News" on Jul 02, 2020
Verkada was unhappy with IPVM's recent coverage declaring that reading IPVM is 'not a good look' and that 'IPVM should never be your source of...
Vintra Presents FulcrumAI Face Recognition on Jul 02, 2020
Vintra presented its FulcrumAI face recognition and mask detection offering at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A...
Uniview Wrist Temperature Reader Tested on Jul 02, 2020
Uniview is promoting measuring wrist temperatures whereas most others are just offering forehead or inner canthus measurements. But how well does...
Dahua USA Admits Thermal Solutions "Qualify As Medical Devices" on Jul 02, 2020
Dahua USA has issued a press release admitting a controversial point in the industry but an obvious one to the US FDA, that the thermal temperature...
Access Control Online Show - July 2020 - With 40+ Manufacturers - Register Now on Jul 01, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce our July 2020 Access Control Show. With 40+ companies presenting across 4 days, this is a unique opportunity to hear...
Hanwha Face Mask Detection Tested on Jul 01, 2020
Face mask detection or, more specifically lack-of-face-mask detection, is an expanding offering in the midst of coronavirus. Hanwha in partnership...
UK Government Says Fever Cameras "Unsuitable" on Jul 01, 2020
The UK government's medical device regulator, MHRA, told IPVM that fever-seeking thermal cameras are "unsuitable for this purpose" and recommends...
Camera Course Summer 2020 on Jun 30, 2020
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training...
Worst Over But Integrators Still Dealing With Coronavirus Problems (June Statistics) on Jun 30, 2020
While numbers of integrators very impacted by Coronavirus continue to drop, most are still moderately dealing with the pandemic's problems, June...