Top Features Corporate Planners Need for Their Mobile Event Apps
In recent years, mobile event applications have evolved from a novel concept into a commodity. Today, attendees expect most events to have a mobile app. The question for event planners then becomes, what app features will give attendees the best experience at their events.
Alon Alroy, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Bizzabo, says it is becoming more challenging to drive adoption of mobile event apps because people have app fatigue. He believes corporate event planners need a great value proposition.
“Event apps need two main features—amazing agenda management that allows attendees to learn engage with event content and amazing people management that allows attendees to network,” he said. “If there are too many features, attendees use a tiny piece and do not have high satisfaction.”
The XD Agency’s managing director, Jack Spilberg, expands on the idea of simplicity.
“Ease of use and access to the most important features, such as the agenda and basic venue information, should be prioritized in the UX design of all mobile event apps,” he explains.
He also points out that it’s also critical to define a persona around the typical user of the app, and then make all feature and design decisions based on whether or not that type of person (persona) will find it useful or valuable.
With app adoption, simplicity and user experience in mind, leading event technology experts recommend several key features frequently requested by planners, and call out the critical components that up their ROI.
Onsite Kiosk Registration
Long lines at registration are a turn-off. Lori Esposito, chief marketing officer at MeetingPlay, says it’s important to make an impactful first impression.
“An appealing check-in option similar to Apple’s Genius Bar where attendees simply scan their unique code or enter their name to review their registration data and print their badge right away, can be included on the app,” she says. “Not only is the experience welcoming, but it’s also highly efficient.”
Enhanced Agenda Items
The first step in helping attendees engage with event content is ensuring they can find the right sessions. Mobile event apps are great tools for organizing an agenda, but can go further toward engagement too.
“The app should recommend the right sessions for each attendee as well as help them to engage with feedback, surveys or rankings,” Alroy says.
Esposito says her clients look at enhanced options available that offer both convenience and personalization such as agendas that can show the tracks, sessions and general meeting schedules specific to an attendee.
“Attendees don’t want to scroll through a long list of sessions,” she says. “In addition, planners can add features to alert attendees when seats are filling up so they can allow their attendees to get into their first choice sessions without frustration.”
Brooke Davis, vice president of operations at Global Access Meetings, says her attendees really like having the breakout sessions listed in the agenda so they can easily see where they need to be.
“Everyone likes how user friendly the app is,” she says. “They like being able to add sessions to their agenda, for example.”
Matchmaking and Custom Gamification
People attend events specifically to network, but the networking process can be a bit daunting. Thankfully, there are a few ways to facilitate networking through mobile apps.
First, matchmaking algorithms help attendees connect with the most influential people specific to their goals and needs at the event. Algorithms can be particularly useful when events have a large number of attendees and making meaningful introductions is tough.
“Through the app, the matches are all personalized to each attendee, which helps narrow down the possibilities to something manageable,” Esposito explains. “Combined with the use of beacon technology, attendees receive proximity alerts when a match is nearby and even receive profile information of the matched person coupled with suggestions to initiate a conversation.”
Second, custom gamification complements the networking goals of a meeting or event in fun ways for attendees.
“When networking is a priority, we suggest a bingo board, where attendees are paired up using a matchmaking algorithm,” Esposito says.
Paired with rewards for completing the bingo board, this creates an environment where everyone is encouraged to interact with fellow participants.
“One important note for gamification: Something our planners have mentioned to us is that it’s important to refresh your game effort year to year because attendees get bored with the same gamification activities,” she adds.
For both attendees and event planners to benefit, Alroy says mobile apps must integrate with the rest of the show’s technology and experiences.
“Mobile apps should play well with the attendees’ desktop experiences before and after events and should never stand alone, in order to create holistic experiences,” he explains.
Davis thinks connecting Global Access Meetings’ app to a social wall is important.
“It gets attendees engaging with the app beyond the basics and encourages networking among attendees,” she explains. “Having the photos up on a flat screen monitor at registration is even better so everyone can enjoy the photos.”
Esposito says a big question she gets from planners is how to ensure all their systems are speaking to each other.
“They need the data entered in one system to pull through to all others, so for example, the information an attendee enters when registering is pulled through when they check in onsite using the app,” she says. “Taking this a step further, two way integrations ensure that any information gathered on the app from an attendee is updated across all platforms.”
Whatever features corporate event planners use, Spilberg says it’s critical to make sure the user experience is perfect.
“Test, test, test! Make sure to include user testing as a part of the process when building your app,” he says. “The earlier you can test a beta version of the app and make key decisions based on what you learn from those tests the better.”
At corporate events, attendees’ time is limited and their networking goals are many and varied. A well thought out mobile app that includes the right features to create a personalized experience for each attendee will go far in solidifying the event’s value for them.