Event apps are not new to us as a business – we first used an event app about 3 years ago, when we had the app developed specifically for a huge event of 3000 people. The app was very static, factual and functional, with little interactivity – but it was a great start!
And since then, event apps have evolved. They have become a vital part of events, usually medium to large-scale events, and, in fact, if you don’t have an event app, you are not in touch with current trends.
So, at a recent large (450 – 500pax) corporate event, with multiple delegate points of contact, we introduced an event app to the process.
The thinking behind this was to create a seamless way for delegates to interact with the content, and to engage them on this platform. But also, as an event company, we need to be on-point with trends in our industry, and this is certainly a trend at the moment! We are regularly being approached by companies to showcase their new app, and each one has slightly more functionality.
The first time we used this kind of technology for this particular event (2015), we had an event mobi-site, where delegates could access the site using a URL from an SMS. It was the first time that we had used this kind of mobi-site to promote information sharing and interactivity, and we were excited by the great functionality that it offered – this included the ability to create an agenda, and the functionality of real-time evaluations and data. We were able to communicate with delegates using SMS’s only, and this was such a great, simple way to communicate.
The second app (for the 2016 event) needed to be downloaded from the app store. And it offered more, including speaker bios with photos, and the ability to manage the various tracks in your agenda.
But where the first one offered live reporting, and you could pull your own reports, the second one could not do this – you had to contact the company to pull the reports for you.
The third company who demoed an event app to us very recently offered even more, including live event streaming, online competitions and live social media integration.
Resourceful entrepreneurs out there have grabbed this gap, and are riding the technology wave – very successfully too! The problem that we have discovered, as event managers, is that all of these people are not event managers! And this means that they have created systems that work on the surface, but are not flexible to the changes that an event undergoes. From the ability to change one agenda item at the last minute and that automatically updates the rest of the agenda, to understanding why some delegates are able to access the app and other’s aren’t…….right now, so that we can immediately solve the problem and ensure a happy delegate.
Challenges for us, and the brand involved:
- Getting people to download the app and actually interact with it. This is probably the biggest challenge faced – how do we do this? One way is to incentivise it – every delegate that downloads the app gets a coffee voucher. Every delegate that interacts with the app gets an additional coffee voucher. Does it work? The right question might be: is coffee the right incentive for your delegates?
- The admin-intensive creation of the app, including all the data that needs to populate it.
- Wi-Fi and infrastructure not configured to support this kind of interaction – we have to ensure that the venue we are working with can cater for this, and at the moment, only a few of these do. Bearing in mind that we need a minimum of 10MB of data, and this differs depending on the size of the event and the functionality offered by the app.
- Client budget constraints – we want to spend the money to have the app, but we may not be able to afford it. Are there budget-friendlier options available?
- Being on trend, obviously.
- The event looks slick, and, if everything works as it should, information is easy and convenient to access.
- Paperless, eco-friendly event.
- All your evaluations are online, and the data is automatically collated for you – no need to do this manually.
- Ability to ask real-time live polling questions and actively engage with your audience.
- The frustration of the app not being flexible enough to make changes in live event time. And this is a big one as events are never static, but always fluid, and the app needs to reflect that fluidity.
Would we use it again? Absolutely! Would we like to be able to tell a developer how it really works? Absolutely! If you’re a developer, call me…..Maybe it’s time for an in-house app?