In the fourth part of this series on event apps, we’ll discuss the foundation of wayfinding. Your event attendees are guests, many of whom are new to your conference, meeting, or trade show venue. From the moment your attendees leave their home or office, your event app should be in place—showing them the path directly to your registration desk.
Hopefully, your event app has been live and active FAR before your event occurs. If so, you’re in the position to help guide your attendees as they make their own travel and accommodation plans. Consider building the following local and regional information into your app, providing extra convenience and allowing your guests to build a better overall experience:
Detailed hotel options with easy reservations
Local restaurant choices
Supplemental services such as dry cleaning, printing, and office supplies
Shopping for recreation or last minute personal items
Local attractions for after hours, sight-seeing, or places of interest
Local airports, travel, and flight information
As soon as your guests reach the venue, they should receive detailed on-sight navigation information, such as highly interactive venue or trade show floor maps. These maps should have searching and zooming capabilities, links for speaker profiles and exhibitor pages—helping your attendees navigate the venue itself and obtain the services and sessions that they need. Your interactive maps can contain any or all of the following options:
Interactive floor plans
Registration location and information
Location and scheduling for sessions
Searching, zooming, and printing
Explore the full potential of interactive show mapping with these two services:
MapYourShow – The interactive floor plan and integrated directory are the meat and potatoes of this event mapping service—assisting you with management, sponsorships, floor plan creation, exhibition, and attendance.
ExpoRep – Beginning with your map, this service rebuilds it using their software—creating an interactive map from nearly any file type. They add your branding, provide training, and offer tools to manage inventory. Their maps provide access to full exhibitor profiles, searching, booth types, availability, registration, and sponsors. They can also include documents or additional relevant links, such as exhibitor contracts and important show information.
Stay tuned to this series! Next week—“How to Succeed with Event Apps—Part Five: Organization.”
In the third part of this series on event apps, we’ll discuss what your attendees most want and need from your app. Boiled down to the very basics, your attendees want NAVIGATION—they need help finding their way through the masses of possibilities and volumes of information available regarding your event. Let’s look at the different ways that navigation applies across multiple aspects of the event experience.
Maps and Local Info– in its simplest form, navigation applies to where your attendees are going. Where are they trying to end up, and how do they get there? If your app does nothing more, it should help attendees find their way through your venue to the sessions and amenities that they need.
Organization – your event provides a tremendous number of opportunities, but it also adds to an attendee’s work and stress load. Your event app must help attendees filter through the possibilities; it needs to make planning easier for your guests. Ideally, guests can search through sessions or exhibitors by keywords—then immediately plan them into their calendar and locate them within the venue.
Social Networking – attendees take the time to come to events for two reasons – gathering information and making contacts. Your app needs to help attendees navigate through the crowds of people and find the contacts that are most useful and valuable for them. These days, everyone has a social media network that they prefer for business and professional use. Attendees will expect advanced networking possibilities from your event app. Your app needs to provide a convenient, concentrated platform where digital contacts can be formed within the framework of your event and where the conversations are focused on the experiences of the event itself.
Personalization – beginning with the event agenda, attendees want to create their own path and forge their own experience, one that is tailored to their unique business needs. The ideal event app makes it easy for guests to carve their own personalized itinerary from the overall offerings—letting them get in and out with exactly the information they needed and with their goals achieved.
Real-time Notification – with instant messaging a standard now, your event app needs to instantaneously deliver changes and reminders directly to guests. It should also facilitate messaging between event participants, creating another opportunity for networking.
Ratings and Feedback – your guests have strong ideas about what they like and don’t like, and it’s best to allow comments as the experience is occurring. Allowing ratings during an event helps everyone—attendees can see which sessions, speakers, and exhibitors are most worth their time, exhibitors have a chance to receive constructive criticism, and you, as an event manager, can see what’s working and what’s not, making a better experience overall.
Stay tuned to this series, as we delve into specific details on how to achieve each of these! Next week—“How to Succeed with Event Apps—Part Four: Maps and More!”
In the second part of this series on event apps, we’ll discuss two technological breakthroughs that are revolutionizing the event attendee experience. An event app is a unique tool, custom-designed to provide your attendees with all of the relevant meeting, conference, convention, trade show and information that they could ever want—as well as useful knowledge about the area surrounding the venue. It’s an excellent opportunity to provide services for your event visitors, exhibitors, and sponsors—vital services such as information and networking potential. The success of your event app can GREATLY enhance the overall success of your event!
As you begin development of your app, consider these amazing technological breakthroughs that can open a WORLD of opportunities for engaging attendees.
iBeacons – Apple’s offering in the world of device-based location services, iBeacons are a way to create truly customized content delivery. Unlike GPS, which provides geographic location, beacons are a low-energy indoor proximity system able to detect when a device is within its precise vicinity. Their ability to connect and communicate with devices within range makes them a fantastic tool for interactive experiences! For example, imagine walking up to any piece of artwork in a museum and to have your headset immediately provide information on the piece you’re viewing—without pushing buttons, selecting downloads, finding and opening pamphlets, or matching up exhibit numbers. iBeacons give your visitors a tour guide in their pocket—without the hassle of searching, selecting, and scrolling. Imagine beacons that can personally welcome your visitors and direct them to where they need to go.
Augmented Reality – taking iBeacons one step further is the concept of augmented reality. With augmented reality, sensory input such as sound, video and graphics are connected in real-time with environmental elements. In the case of trade shows, for example, this could mean that iBeacons in the app trigger a presentation of video and directional speakers focused on the exact spot where a visitor is standing! For conventions and trade shows, each exhibitor can custom craft an interactive display of directional speakers, customized lights, and 3D graphics—set to amaze and absorb visitors at their booths.
With these options, you have the opportunity to take your event app off the screen and to integrate it into your visitors’ experience. Business events strive to educate, engage, and incorporate people—with products, services, and with professional networking. An event app strengthened with these interactive technologies is primed to SUCCEED!
In this series, we’ll lead you through the complicated event app decision-making process. Apps are changing the face of event management. Yet, while 60% of Meeting and Event Planners intend to use an event app in the future, a full 40% have not used a meeting app in the past and do not plan to use one anytime soon. Whether you’re a total beginner or just beginning anew, here are some tips to get started with app development.
What do Event Planners want from an event app?
The event app industry is quickly becoming saturated with companies offering everything from customized, full-service development options, down to easy drag-and-click do-it-yourself choices. When you’re navigating through the potential providers, ask yourself how well the app developer is able to handle these top five issues.
1. Control of development—Event Planners are highly organized people and they know the needs and wants of their clients and attendees. On average, Event Planners feel more comfortable when they know that they are a part of the event app creation process, every step of the way. Playing a large role in the development process provides two main benefits. First, it helps Event Planners do what they do best—look for potential issues and solve problems. Second, it ensures that the Event Planners themselves are thoroughly knowledgeable about how the app is designed and the features that it offers—since they were fully participating in development.
2. Customized look—Event Planners know that logos and branding are extremely important to their clients. If an event app is customized in its function but it fails to incorporate the unique branding of the event or the corporate sponsor, then it has only completed half of its purpose. Corporate events exist to extend the reach and increase the visibility of a business. An event app must clearly reflect the contribution of the business responsible for its development.
3. Easily updated content—Event Planners are not software engineers. They need assistance setting the framework and foundation of an expert app, but they must be able to take control of the content. One of the main benefits of an event app is the possibility of effortless adjustments to schedules, agendas and more. This benefit is lost if the content management portion of the app is not intuitive.
4. Templates—Event Planners love to have their events continue annually and to grow, year after year. For this ideal situation, the ideal event app offers templates, so that the look and feel of the app remains consistent for subsequent events. Once a customized app is created to suit the particular needs of an event, it is an enormous benefit to have that information available for reuse later on.
5. Adaptability—Event Planners know . . . things change. More than just editing and content updating, how easy is it to add or remove the app’s tools and features, if necessary? Can a fresh, new social media content stream be added? Can a gaming or geolocation feature be included? Ensure that the foundation is in place, but also be certain that there is room for adaptation. Each year that the event continues, it’s vital that new tools and technologies can be included
Stay tuned for our next post, “How to Succeed with Event Apps—Part Two: Tech options to Consider.”