With smartphone technology on the rise, event planners are adding apps to their technology arsenals – for their own planning efforts and for attendees’ engagement. Here we’ll focus on attendee-centric apps, which come in an overwhelming number of options, from do-it-yourself approaches to completely customized applications ($10K-$50K).
For an in-depth exploration of what the range of options are and what they provide, you may want to explore a relatively recent MPI White Paper by Swift Mobile.
Between the opposite ends of the spectrum lies a vast array of options, which can leave planners confused and frustrated.
WHY AN APP?
Apps are green and easily accessible to attendees with smartphones, allowing for last-minute changes and updates. However, at a recent convention, the custom app contained session times that didn’t match the printed materials, leaving attendees confused. Additionally, apps give attendees tacit permission to be on their phones, even during sessions. Not only that, planners need to be mindful of the type of technology their attendees are using (iPhones? Droids? Both?), and not inadvertently leave out attendees who are unable to access the app.
Here’s what apps do well:
- Conference registration and check-in
- Agendas with alerts and scheduling features
- Mobile polls and surveys
- Networking with attendee profiles
- Sponsorship banners and offers
- Interactive venue and city maps
- Exhibitor listings
- Social media integration (mainly Facebook and Twitter)
- Improved accessibility to info
- Enhanced engagement and networking
- “Greening” the event, reducing paper and waste
- Increasing revenue through advertising/sponsor opportunities
- Decreasing printing costs
- Raising event brand perception
WHERE DO I FIND THE RIGHT APP?
These are just a sampling of popular apps (for attendee experience, not as planner management tools).
- Existing apps that are “plug-n-play”: In app stores and app marketplaces, search keywords such as “conference,” “congress,” “meeting” or “trade show.”
- DIY app: Build it yourself with AppMakr for iPhone or App Inventor for Android, both of which allow users to organize content around RSS feeds— a blog or a Twitter feed, for example.
- iCamp by Tapmate: Modest features for iPhones and iPads.
- Eventmobi: Robust features for multiple smartphone platforms.
- eEvent: Social media integration to sell tickets and encourage referrals to drive attendance.
- Eventbird: Robust app offering.
- Eventbee: Ticketing, Facebook and LinkedIn promotion, ticket scanning and real-time check-in.
- Conventionist: Robust app features for iPhone and Android.
By placing a QR code (see our PYM Technology Primer Blog article HERE) on the event site, in printed materials or signage, many events are layering their use of the newer technologies, using them to their best advantage.
Next month: RFID, radio-frequency identification