Event apps are no longer an option for many events today. Tech-savvy delegates expect them. Sponsors, partners and exhibitors dive into the granular data they get from them. In fact, according to a recent research study from Eventsforce, a staggering 81% of planners cited driving attendee engagement as their number one reason for using event apps.
When integrated seamlessly with your events, event apps can help you deliver a personalised experience at scale. But with so many apps out there all offering similar features, how do you choose the right one?
Why Cost is NOT the Reason to Choose an Event App
Whilst research shows cost is the biggest determining factor for organisers when deciding on whether to use an event app, it shouldn’t be the only one. Doing so could lead to all sorts of issues for you and your delegates. Issues you never anticipated.
With that in mind, let’s look at 8 other important considerations that we believe should be included in your event app decision making process.
What functionality will the event app provide? What do you need it to provide? There would be little point in buying an event app that didn’t do all that you needed from it. Review the attributes you need and then find out if they are provided. If they are not, would you be compromising the delegate experience?
For example, do you need functionality that allows delegates to search an event programme, create their own schedules or use an interactive floor plan? What you need will depend on your event but there will be some functionality that is absolutely needed and some functionality that is nice to have. Research from Eventsforce, for example, shows session information and personalised agendas ranked as the most popular app features used by attendees. You would therefore be wise to include such items as requirements. But only you, will be able to decide whether the event app being considered is going to work for you and enhance your productivity and deepen the delegate experience.
2) Ease of Use
Simplicity of your event app is key for two main reasons. One for you as the organiser and secondly for your delegates. For you, the planner, the app should be designed not only to enable you to do more, but also to make your life easier. It should be easy to set up and empower you to focus on delivering the best event experience possible for your guests, not on learning and navigating cumbersome screens that add complexity.
For your delegates, event app design is key to whether apps are downloaded and used. If it’s too difficult for people they will give up and simply not use it. To boost engagement your app needs to be straightforward and a joy to use. Don’t forget that the app plays a part in the overall attendee experience. The app doesn’t need to have all the latest bells and whistles. As long as it has the right features that delegates value, then an event app that has been designed intuitively and is easy to use for attendees, will be spot on.
Event planners understand that there are a lot of things that can go wrong with an event. The stress can be enormous. They certainly don’t want to add event app technology glitches into the mix. The event planner needs to know that if there is a problem, support is readily available to help.
According to research from The Event Manager Blog, 40% of event professionals are still uncomfortable with event technology, and having strong support is one of the most deciding factors in their buying decision. With an attendee-facing tool like your event app, it is crucial to have quick and knowledgeable staff available to help you with any problems that might occur – before, during and after the event.
Integration between different technology systems is essential. If the technology cannot be integrated, then event planners will just add to their workload. Seamless integration is imperative. Integrations connect your different tools and make them work together automatically. If your technology is fragmented, you will be wasting time, energy and data.
However, most technology suppliers are well aware of the demands of planners and offer integration services. Your event app providers should be able to customise connections between theirs and your existing software to fit your event. Or you can deal with one provider who manages all your registration and app data on one centralised platform.
Make sure you review what you can integrate from your current event technologies into the app. This could (and should) include ticketing solutions, digital maps and interactivity tools for audience engagement.
Time is never the friend of an event planner. There is always a need to find more of it. An event app should help you with this. You need to be clear on whether the event app can help you avoid duplicating your work load. Running an event requires many programme updates and they should mirror each other on your website and the event app. Having to input changes twice wouldn’t be the best use of your time.
Remember, apps bring value to events only when they successfully connect attendees to the right content and right people at the right time. To do this effectively, organisers need to make sure that the information attendees see on apps is always accurate and up-to-date.
Ask the provider about some scenarios before committing. For example, can the event app block attendees from registering for sessions that take place at the same time, can you define quotas on the number of people per session based on room capacity and will attendees receive notifications to rate a speaker? These are just some questions that come to mind. If the event app doesn’t help save you time, it’s not helping.
The event app you finally choose needs to be strong in terms of security and data protection. GDPR has highlighted the whole business of data protection and mobiles being infected with harmful viruses is one of the ways that organisations can be vulnerable to attack. If you want to boost your event app engagement you need to give attendees reassurance that they are safe and that in choosing the event app you haven’t taken any short cuts at the expense of security protection.
It was pretty devastating for the Conservative party when it was discovered that their 2018 conference app had a security flaw that allowed anyone to access the personal data of attendees. Logging into the app only required an e-mail address with no additional verification being needed. Don’t go down the same path. Make sure your security is top notch. It’s more important than ever.
Analytics are super important for event evaluation, the planning of future events and reporting back the hard numbers to the senior leadership team. If the event app you decide to proceed with doesn’t have relevant and insightful reporting, then you will be at a disadvantage. Also, where is the ROI?
A great event app will help you demonstrate with hard numbers: the who, what, where and when. What sessions did your delegates go to, which downloads did they access etc. It’s invaluable information. Plus you will be able to see and benchmark your event app adoption rate. When data is critical for event success, you definitely need analytics to help you.
The monetisation opportunities you can get with your event app is another consideration to take into account. Does the app have the ability to monetise your conference or exhibition? Can it drive leads for your exhibitors and sponsors? Helping your sponsors and suppliers connect with attendees in a personalised way through sponsors adverts, targeted notifications, logo placement and information about their product gives ROI to these partners. If the app doesn’t have the capability of helping you increase revenue through monetisation, you could easily miss out on golden opportunities to work more closely with sponsors and exhibitors. Monetisation is also another way in which the investment in the event app can pay for itself.
Event apps entice event planners with their latest features and benefits. If the app is free or low cost, it can become even more tempting for some event planners. Especially those that are under considerable pressure to demonstrate cost savings whilst still delivering an engaging attendee experience. Cost becomes a real consideration, but as we have highlighted it shouldn’t be the main consideration. Just as important are functionality and integration – and these are things that can easily go wrong with free or cheap apps.
What is needed is an event app that will enable you to focus on optimising your attendee experience, without worrying about an event app that only does half the job.
Take a breath before you commit to an event app and think strategically. How will the chosen event app work to help your strategic event objectives? If it will, then great. But if you are buying on cost alone, it’s likely to be an expensive mistake in the long run.