There’s an app attack brewing in the meeting and events industry, but for now it’s just a tiny takeover. Although event apps are growing in both usage and ease of use, 95 percent of planners still use paper, says Lawrence Coburn, CEO of mobile event application provider DoubleDutch.
“Only 5 percent of planners regularly use mobile meeting apps, so if you’ve never used an event app you are not alone,” Coburn said from the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.
Apps, while more environmentally friendly than paper, are not widely used. Coburn thinks it’s because potential users are unfamiliar with how apps work, what benefits they offer and, perhaps, price point. It’s not because they’re difficult to use.
Anyone who’s used Blogger or a similar web publishing platform, should find it pretty easy, Coburn says. DoubleDutch apps focus on capturing data from live events so planners can use it before, during and after events.
DoubleDutch’s Event Concierge app operates as an assistant, helping attendees navigate the in-app conference schedule, add a session to their personal agenda, know when a presentation is in progress and access a survey once it’s done. The app, for a phone or tablet, has customizable features, colors and layouts for meetings, trade shows or other events.
The Head Count feature uses the Bluetooth detection to locate event attendees in the venue, meeting room or even a specific section of a trade show. It also can deliver location-specific recommendations for seminars, food and restrooms, and give planners an automatic tally of who shows up at plenary or breakout sessions, for example.
While convenient and even fun, there are issues with apps.
A universal truth of the meeting industry is that the Internet can be sketchy in some expo halls, Coburn says, an issue native apps can circumvent. The first time a planner logs onto the DoubleDutch app, it grabs the content. If and when you’re offline, you still have all that info.
“As DoubleDutch’s footprint gets bigger we are going to gather more and more data on event attendees,” Coburn says. “When we analyze that data, we move closer to that perfect one-to-one marketing idea. It’s about how much technology can learn about a participant’s likes and dislikes. We can then make personalized ‘Amazon-style’ recommendations for an event experience.”
It’s even possible that the event experience will extend to wearables like Google glasses in the future, he says.
“But the biggest thing,” he insists, “is the customized personalized, event experience.”