It wasn’t that long ago that having a mobile app for your event was considered cutting-edge. Yet in a few short years, for the vast majority of events, it’s become the norm.
It might come as a surprise, then, there are still quite a few planners out there who haven’t made the transition to mobile for their events, whether it’s due to attendee demographics, security concerns or government regulations, or simply a lack of knowledge.
If you’re taking your first steps into the mobile app arena, or you already have one but are ready to re-evaluate its effectiveness and take a second look at your provider, let’s review the most important features any event app should include.
Where am I supposed to be? The number of mobile apps out there that seem to fail at this vital feature is baffling. At its core, a mobile app is meant to be a replacement for the printed agenda. It must to be easy to navigate and easy to read. App providers frequently allow individual attendees to customize their agendas, choosing what sessions or activities to save as they progress through the event.
How do I get there? This is another fundamental feature that’s frequently overlooked. How maps are displayed within the app is important. Is it just a PDF that’s been uploaded, or is it an interactive feature that helps attendees navigate the show floor? Does it easily answer questions such as, where’s registration? Where’s the expo hall? Access to all that information should be at your attendees’ fingertips.
Let’s get it started in here. Let’s be honest: You don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands. So while your mobile app provider is giving you a tour of all the things your app can do on the front end (what your attendee sees), also ask for a tour of the back end. Get answers to questions such as, how hard is it to set up? Who’s going to be importing all the schedule information into the app, you or the app provider? Is that included in the price, or is it extra?
Because things can—and do—change. Once you have all the pertinent information inputted, how hard is it to make changes? And more importantly, how quickly are those changes delivered to your attendees? How your app responds to changes can dramatically affect your attendee experience. If they don’t feel like they can trust the app because it’s not up-to-date, they’ll likely stop using it.
Don’t be pushy. One of the easiest ways to make sure your attendees know when important changes occur is through the use of push notifications on their devices. But use them with caution. Try not to send too many notifications; “notification fatigue” is real, and many people start to ignore their notifications when they get overloaded. There’s no guarantee they’ll receive the alert.
What’s on your mind? Whether it’s through use of a throwable microphone or a stand-alone polling app, people are looking to engage their audiences in unique and interesting ways. More and more, these features are being built into event apps, with many third-party providers allowing their polling apps to be embedded within another provider’s event app.
Let’s chat. Finally, more and more apps are providing opportunities to meet and network with other attendees based on similar interests. While many of the implementations walk the line between ineffective and downright creepy, some are emerging with magical techniques that encourage networking without feeling like a dating app. While this feature is still the most cutting-edge on our list, this will become an essential moving forward.
With 20 years of experience in the meetings and events industry, Brandt Krueger has spoken at industry events and seminars all over the world. He provides freelance technical production services and is the owner of Event Technology Consulting.