As smartphones have permeated daily life, event organizers have taken advantage of them in the form of apps to add a powerful digital element to the event experience. Nowadays, the event app serves as a dependable workhorse, supplanting the printed event guide while boosting attendee engagement with alerts and surveys.
While apps still differ in terms of overall ease-of-use, engagement levels, and cost, it is not difficult to find one that offers a set of common functions, be it agendas, maps, sponsor/exhibitor directories, social media links, or reporting capabilities. But as our other posts have noted, enterprising organizers are looking for greater ROI from their technology investment.
Here are 4 first-generation event apps — see a trend? It's hard to tell the difference.
Next generation event apps — the event app 2.0 — will help organizers take events to a whole new level of value. Highly-engaging event apps can collect immense amounts of data about their attendees’ interests and activities. By applying artificial intelligence to the “big data”, these new apps provide a new level of possibilities and ROI to organizers.
Through the use of data and analytics, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) found that timing their marketing messages at the right time to prospective attendees proved to be very effective in attracting attendees to their show.
Next generation event apps offer many more opportunities beyond this to help create new value and ROI. Here are some new possibilities to look for:
Attract more attendees — Since organizers are often looking for more effective ways to attract attendees, second-generation event apps will help with marketing events through social networking sites. Organizers can leverage their already registered attendees to attract additional attendees through the app. Before an event, attendees can share event-related content and even the event itself with their own contacts, leveraging a trusted channel for discovering the event and motivating prospective attendees to register.
Run better events — Data gathered from event apps enable organizers to peer into their events in new ways. For example, BIO leveraged data to restructure and improve their networking session. With a next generation event app, data can be collected as attendees are interacting with the app. Data is collected about which parts of the event, be it sessions, exhibitors, speakers, or other attendees, are resonating with the audience. These insights become valuable after an event to optimize future events, and using artificial intelligence, increasingly sophisticated apps will generate recommendations for organizers about how to make events better.
New revenue opportunities — As apps become the information center of events, they will provide increasing value which can result in new revenue opportunities. Big data and artificial intelligence can again be applied to match and connect sponsors and attendees based on shared interests and business opportunities. For example, knowing the interests of specific attendees helps sponsors deliver the right content and offers to the right audience. At the same time, sponsors can get insights about who they should reach out to around an event to engage in dialogue. These “matching” services deliver economic value that sponsors are willing to pay for.
Next generation event apps will help organizers deliver better and deeper attendee experiences through interactivity and personalization. Attendees have diverse and varying interests even at the same event. It is becoming more difficult to satisfy their expectations from a one-size-fits-all event agenda - no matter how much work went into planning it - resulting in attendee churn being a continuing challenge. 2.0 event apps enable organizers to provide a more satisfying experience to attendees.
Connecting with people — Networking is often cited as a top reason to attend an event. At conferences, attendees want to connect with others for learning, career development, and business opportunities. At trade shows, exhibitors want to meet with the right buyers and connect with prospects and leads. Next generation event apps enable participants to see, message, and meet anyone regardless of whether they are nearby, making participants more effective networkers and giving them greater value.
Recommendations — Going beyond the manual bookmarking of sessions and exhibitors offered by apps today, next generation event apps will leverage user data and artificial intelligence to recommend those portions of the agenda, exhibitors, and attendees that would most interest participants based on interests. This technology creates greater satisfaction and retention with attendees by ensuring a more consistent experience for everyone.
The event app is taking big steps forward in value for organizers who are looking for greater ROI. There are still great opportunities to leverage big data insights and artificial intelligence to grow events and enhance the attendee experience that will push ROI to the next level. Event apps 2.0 have the potential to make events more rewarding and exciting for everyone — be they the organizer, sponsor, or attendee.