Running a successful event can pay dividends for your organization throughout the year and beyond. The best events provide opportunities to share and develop knowledge and insights among attendees, create valuable professional and personal connections, and strengthen the affinity attendees feel toward your organization. Further, they unlock positive value between event hosts and sponsors—delivering valuable revenue that fuels your organization’s goals, while providing sponsors with new business that keeps them coming back year after year.
And as in-person events become the norm again after their hiatus of the last two years, organizers and attendees are once again realizing the benefits of face-to-face connection.
This post will help organizers think through planning and deploying a mobile app platform solution for their events.
Planning Ahead (60–180 days in advance)
Begin planning your event app by making a vendor selection 60–180 days in advance of your event. Exactly how far in advance will depend on your needs and your staff’s availability to focus on launching the app, but a good rule of thumb is 60 days should give you time to get everything up and running. In some circumstances, with the right solution in place, we’ve seen event organizers get an app ready in fewer than 30 days.
There are many vendors active in the event space, and choosing one that is best aligned to your organization’s goals and resources is a critical success factor.
Many organizers will start with the question, what is the number of participants to justify developing an app for their event? A better question is, what is the experience we want attendees to have, and how can we provide rich and engaging access to information about the venue, speakers, sessions, exhibitors, materials, etc., in one convenient place.
How many attendees will you need to make a mobile solution affordable? There are mobile app platforms at a number of different price points, and there is sure to be an option that fits your budget. That said, here at MobileUp, we strongly believe that a pricing model where organizations pay a flat annual fee, with no upcharges per event or attendee, is the way to ensure a wide range of customers can incorporate mobile technology into their event planning with confidence and predictability. But regardless of the approach you take with the budget, we recommend organizers prepare to spend a few thousand dollars per year with their mobile app partner.
Features for Attendees
What are the features that your attendees require? You will likely want to offer standard features like session schedules and tracks, registration information, collaboration, and communication tools. You will probably want to explore features that can increase attendee engagement while they are at your event, with tools such as session check-ins, surveys, daily leaderboards, and posts and comments by administrators and attendees through the Social Feed system.
Features for Sponsors
A mobile app platform can greatly enhance the value your sponsors get from their partnership with your organization, which will improve revenue opportunities and returning sponsorship.
Take note of how different mobile app platforms provide integrations for sponsors right in the app. This is an easy value add for your sponsors and will help attendees see information from your sponsors that they might be interested in learning more about.
And it’s not just about your presenting sponsors. Look closely at how a mobile app platform can support exhibitors. Your app can help attendees find specific exhibitors, learn a bit about them before visiting their booth, and even check-in for a booth visit, creating a seamless exchange of contact information, perhaps in exchange for being entered into a drawing.
Building and Deploying Your Mobile Event App
Delivery Strategy: Dedicated Custom App vs. Container App
- A Branded App results in your organization having a fully custom branded app in the major app stores, under your organization’s name. Because of this, it’s easily searchable by your users in the way they’re accustomed to. However, there is one extra requirement to this approach: your organization must maintain developer accounts with both Apple and Google and keep them in good standing. It takes about 7–10 days to set up accounts for an organization.
- A Container Cpp uses a generic app from your technology vendor to host your content. (In MobileUp’s case, your attendees would download our app “GoEngage” from the app stores and then log in using credentials which you would provide.) Two advantages with this are your organization does not have to create and manage an Apple or Google Developer account, and there is a lower entry cost. The disadvantage is all attendees will have to download the “GoEngage” app and then enter the access code provided by your organization. A container app is not searchable under your brand name in the stores, unlike a custom app. After entering the access code and on every subsequent launch of the app, all your custom branding and content would be available.
Managing Your Mobile Event App and Content
Even the most smoothly planned events will stretch the time and attention of your team. You’ll want a platform that lowers the demands on your team on event day, not raises it.
Using the backend console from your app vendor, you will have the ability to modify, add or remove any app content in minutes and push to all app users immediately. Most of the app management during the event is focused on attendee engagement and data collection.
Following are some of the features and content that you will want to explore for your app:
- Revenue generation with sponsor integration, sponsor directories, announcements, etc.
- Attendee engagement, including notifications, networking, and discussions
- Registration backend integration.
- ‘Check In’ to allow for CLE credits, Tickets, Gamification, etc.
- Organizational feedback and communication through announcements, session posts, and survey’s.
- Exhibitor directories and lead capture functionality for booths.
Benefits To Attendees
A strong mobile app means a more valuable event for attendees. Professionals across all fields have become accustomed to using their smartphone as the engine of connection and productivity. That absolutely must extend to the time they spend attending your event—not to mention the key moments before and after the event while they make their plans and consolidate their learnings.
Benefits to Organization
A rich, yet easy-to-use mobile app platform for your events provides a much easier and more cost-effective way to deliver all the programming and materials without IT support. Not only can you save planning budget dollars by using mobile technology, but last-minute changes are much easier and less stressful. Using technology to collect timely feedback and instill conversation is invaluable in setting future planning and programming.