When visitor management (or a lack of it) goes wrong

09th May 2017 | Insights

May 8th 2006, a day at the BBC that will live on in infamy, thanks to the indelible nature of the internet.

The late Guy Kewney, a renowned communications and technology journalist, at the time one of the UK’s foremost experts on the internet, was scheduled to appear on a live broadcast of BBC News 24 to discuss tech giant Apple’s court case against record label Apple Corps. A perfectly normal turn of events…

A producer walks into a reception area, asking the gentleman sat there, “Are you Guy?” before asking him to follow him for his “interview”. The man confirmed his name was Guy and followed the producer into the studio, ready to be interviewed live on air.

That man was not Guy Kewney.

In a different reception area, Guy Kewney watched, confused, on a monitor as Guy Goma, who was at BBC Television Centre for a job interview as a data cleanser, stared into the camera like a rabbit in headlights, opening and closing his mouth in a silent scream of terror, fear-sweat beading at his forehead, as he realised that something was very wrong with his current situation. News anchor Karen Bowerman, suspecting nothing was amiss, began to probe Guy for insight into the Apple case.

Guy awkwardly, yet gamefully, not wanting to make a scene, attempted to answer her questions, managing to remain composed despite knowing that he was in a very wrong place at a very wrong time.  He correctly surmised that people were now downloading lots of things from the internet, and that it was getting faster, but he demonstrably knew very little about what he was there to discuss, his anodyne quotes doing little to answer the questions posed of him.  This resulted in a short-but-farcical piece of car-crash TV that, thanks to YouTube and social media, has been shared into British folklore.

A hilarious (for everyone but the BBC) episode that could easily have been avoided – but what would happen if that was your school or company? Who can honestly say that all visitors are instantly identifiable and accounted for, that they will all be met by the correct person and directed to the proper destination, and that they absolutely, definitely will not find themselves in a situation which is incredibly embarrassing, or even dangerous, for all concerned?

You’d expect an organisation like the BBC, even in 2006, to have had pretty stringent procedures for visitors, however their on-air faux pas goes to show that it’s possible for someone to slip through the net if everything isn’t up to scratch. So with that in mind, why not consider implementing a fast, accessible, fully-accountable visitor management system, which not only prints off a temporary photo-ID badge to identify them, but also emails a photo of the visitor to the person they’re there to see, so they don’t end up with a Guy Goma when they’re looking for a Guy Kewney. It just might prevent an awkward story appearing on today’s news…

You can learn more about our visitor management systems for the primary education sector, the secondary education sector and the corporate sector.