These days, providing meeting attendees and stakeholders with a comprehensive mobile app -- one that works in sync with all other event materials -- can be integral to an event's success. Planners typically have a variety of app options, covering a wide range of prices. Regardless of the approach one takes, following are some tips for successfully creating a useful meeting app that all stakeholders will appreciate.
1. Choose a Provider
As you would for any tech investment, first establish the overall purpose of your meeting and what you aim to accomplish with the app. There is no shortage of event app providers -- research a number of them to find some that offer the functionality required to meet your objectives.
Template-based platforms like Attendify offer easy-to-create apps that can be customized when necessary. Standard features range from event gamification to audience polling and customized agendas. Other app platforms offer multiple products that suit different types of events. Whova, for example, offers networking-focused apps for conferences and small events, with additional functionality such as lead retrieval and exhibitor marketing features for expos and trade shows. Crowd Compass, Cvent's mobile app, is designed to scale for events of many types and sizes. The possibilities can be overwhelming; generally speaking, the more customization you require, the more you'll pay. And it's a good idea to at least begin the search with apps available from suppliers you may already be working with for other technology, and/or apps already proven to work with other crucial parts of your technology stack.
2. Include the Basics
Establish which features will be absolute must-haves to accomplishing your goals. Every event is different, but common basic features and functionality might include the following:
- Mobile check-in/event pass
- Interactive venue maps
- Interactive trade show floor maps, if applicable
- Event schedules
- Attendee profiles
- Speaker profiles
- Exhibitor profiles/information
- Networking features, such as a commenting/sharing feed and/or instant messaging
- Push notifications for real-time updates or reminders
- Surveys and polling
- Security information and resources
Apps for Events by AppBurst also suggests adding multilanguage capabilities, especially for meetings and events that will host international attendees. (AppBurst, for instance, provides the ability to toggle between languages for easier engagement, interaction and app navigation.)
3. Don't Overdo Push Notifications
Push notifications can be a vital way of ensuring attendees don't miss out on key sessions or activities -- but don't overdo it. Use push notifications sparingly, only scheduling updates and alerts when they'll truly add value. Otherwise, attendees will be quick to disable them.
4. Be Social
To be successful, an event app needs to be engaging. Jacqueline Lynch, marketing and communications manager for Guidebook, encourages linking to third-party social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram from the app. You should encourage attendees to share via the app using event-related hashtags, photos and content. Lynch also suggests including an app feature that allows attendees to create topic-focused forums where they might post questions, feedback, interact with speakers and/or rate sessions.
5. Continue the Conversation
The event app can be just as useful after the event as it is during. Send post-event push notifications -- sparingly -- asking attendees to rate specific aspects of the conference, such as their favorite speakers or sessions. Attendify suggests scheduling these notifications shortly after the event, while the experience is still fresh in attendees' minds. Push notifications can also be used to inform attendees of upcoming event dates or other meetings that are in the works. Again, use this feature sparingly, or meeting-goers will likely just delete the app entirely.
6. Leverage Data
The data captured via the app can potentially be used to convey the ROI of the event to all stakeholders, including meeting owners, exhibitors, sponsors and attendees. According to event management company Aventri, the following data points can be collected and analyzed via an app to understand how the event performs.
- Number of downloads
- Number of times app was used
- Total number of user actions
- Number of QR codes scanned
- Number of items bookmarked (favorites)
- Number of notes taken by users
- Number of push notifications sent
- Number of messages between attendees
- Attendee connections made
- Percentage of live polling participation
- Percentage of Q&A participation
Feedback from Attendees
- Session & speaker ratings
- Overall event rating
- Survey results
- Rating completion ratio
- Survey completion ratio