This creative solution for visitor sign-in comes to us from St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Seattle, Washington. Whether your guest book is paper or digital, remember to connect with guests during their visit and look for meaningful ways to follow up in the coming week.
CHALLENGE: We had a paper guest book for visitors, but unfortunately, we weren’t good at following up when people signed it. Also, visitors were just putting their names and occasionally their address, which didn’t tell us why they were at our church. In addition, we wanted our priests to be able to welcome our guests by name after the service, but that means the parish council would have to copy names and run them up behind the altar at every service. It wasn’t a convenient system.
SOLUTION: Our answer is actually a pretty simple one—we made a public Google Form that is accessible on any internet browser. We kept the form simple, so that it doesn’t take a long time to fill out. Google forms are simple and—best of all—they’re free (http://www.google.com/forms/about/). The form collects people’s responses in a spreadsheet for you to view later. With some simple coding, however, you can make the form email you responses any time they are submitted. This link explains how: http://www.labnol.org/internet/googledocs-email-form/20884/. Read the section entitled “Send Google Forms Data by Email.” Each guest’s submission is sent to our clergy, our Stewardship Chairperson, and the person who manages our email newsletter.
A parishioner donated an old tablet—it doesn’t have to be an iPad—and we placed it on a stand in the narthex. We made our Google form the homepage on the internet browser, so it was easy to find. Of course, you need to have wifi in your narthex. We have a phone that runs over Ethernet there, so we plugged in a wireless router, secured it with a password, and we were good to go.
We secured the tablet to the stand with a $30 Anti-Theft Case with Built-In Stand purchased on Amazon.com. We don’t have an electrical outlet near the stand, so we have to unlock the iPad and charge it elsewhere. You may also want to change the “sleep” settings so the iPad stays on; it helps people to notice it and sign it. That’s it!