As an event planner, you’re well aware that event apps have become common practice at any type of event experience. Chances are, you’ve used an event app yourself; whether it was an event you attended or one you executed as part of your event marketing strategy. Some event app features are so seamlessly incorporated into the event experience that you may not even be aware!
According to Event MB, 91 percent of event planners believe that apps are still relevant. When looking at what event planners want in an event app, the No. 1 desired feature is an event app that is quick and easy to set up.
That makes sense. Planning and executing a smooth event run is hard enough. When you factor in the amount of time that goes into creating an entire event, you don’t want to waste your time with unnecessary technical difficulties. Having planned events and international conferences from Chicago to Sydney, I’ve been there and I get it: Name badges alone have caused me more headaches than I ever imagined possible.
But, you can’t favor speed and ease for the sake of what really matters: your attendees.
An event app is what ties the entire experience together. From sponsors and speakers to fellow attendees and agendas, your event app has to have it all. If you want your event to run smoothly for attendees, an event app is a way to do it. Take it from me: I’ve been on both sides of the registration table. When going to events with thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of attendees, the event app is my personal assistant, helping me maximize every precious moment of conference time.
On the other hand, a bad app is like a bad assistant: You really want to fire them. But, as an attendee, I can’t. You can bet that when an event app is lacking, your delegates will feel the frustration, and that’s the last thing you want. (Especially when looking for repeat registrations year-over-year!)
Here are the top eight event app features to look for. I’ll also touch on how to use these features to ensure your guests make the most of the app and your event!
1. An easy-to-navigate menu
Event apps provide an abundance of information. Just like how your website needs a navigation system, you need to help guests on your event app find the information they need.
It’s obvious that each event is different, so look for an event app that allows for customizable menu options. This will ensure you’re able to make the navigation easy for your specific users and event.
Consider the app’s home page when people log in. What elements are your attendees likely to need the most often? What will they expect to find as soon as they open the app?
You can only fit so many features on the home screen so make sure to put yourself in the shoes of your attendees to understand their needs. You want attendees to be able to find all the elements, especially if they’re not on the home screen.
Consider the needs attendees will they have throughout the day. Each of those needs should not only be addressed on your event app, but they should also be on your event app’s menu. Your guest doesn’t have much time to find a speaker’s Twitter handle when rushing from one conference room to the next as they try to secure their seat. Make it easy for them!
2. Networking functionality
When executing an event as a part of B2B marketing, it’s no surprise your guests plan on networking. In fact, according to the Decision to Attend Study by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, networking is one of the top three reasons people attend events. But those attendees also want you to help them in the networking process: 76 percent say it’s important for event organizers to give them opportunities to network and make connections.
One of the best ways to do this is by enabling your attendees to connect with each other through the event app. You could provide the ability for attendees to send each other messages or share links to their social media profiles. When creating networking features, be careful to maintain the attendee experience as the number one priority, as well as their privacy. Think about what personal details are shared on the app. Yes, your guests want to network. What they don’t want is spam or unwanted sales pitches.
Recommended Read: How Real Property Management Won the Game at Attendee Networking
3. Event agenda
Building an event app with no agenda is like making a cake with no flour. It’s an essential ingredient. The agenda is the feature your guests will use and depend on most regularly. Many conferences have multiple break-out sessions occurring at the same time. Attendees need to know more than which session to attend; they need to know which ones they can attend when their desired sessions conflict!
Give your guests the ability to star, favorite, or otherwise save sessions they are interested in. Then, have the option for attendees to view “my schedule.” After scouring through all of the insightful sessions you are providing, people want an easy way to remember the ones they’ve chosen. This also helps delegates get to where they need to be on time. No one wants to get to that highly-anticipated session only to find the doors closed with a sign “Session full.”
4. Event map
Attendees need the map to know where sessions, networking, food, and sponsors are. (And, your sponsors will appreciate the opportunity to be found, too!). The bigger and more spread out your venue, the more critical your event map becomes. Sure, you can and should have event signage. But that doesn’t help delegates very much when they’re lost, or in a different room, and don’t see your signage.
As technology continues to improve, look for new map features with interactive elements. This will be especially appreciated by your directionally-challenged attendees. (Like me!)
5. Event surveys
Post-event surveys are a critical part of your on-going event success. You need to know what worked, what didn’t, and why, so you can address areas where improvement is needed while keeping the elements (and speakers!) your guests love. Instead of sending out your survey after the event — when your conference guests are struggling to catch up from their time out of the office — use your app to offer surveys during the event. Make your surveys quick and easy, and give the guests the ability to review each individual speaker.
For example, here you can get a quick peek at the event app for the Canadian Society of Association Executives’ annual summer summit.
Notice how quickly anyone can fill out that survey. With just two taps, attendees can give their feedback. This is much easier than combing through a long survey listing all of the speakers at the end of your event. Delegates like giving feedback: They want you to give them a good experience. By having the optional section for additional comments, you’re helping them share as much or as little feedback as desired. You can also consider incentivizing your surveys. For example, with every speaker survey an individual takes during the day, they can be entered to win a prize, such as a ticket to your next event.
Recommended Read: [Case Study] CSAE Achieves 90% Mobile App Engagement with Attendees
6. Speaker information
Having speaker information on your event app is a great way to help attendees priorities which sessions they should attend. The basic speaker details to include are the person’s name, title, company, and biography. However, don’t forget to include these two additional details under each speaker within your app:
a. Speaker’s Twitter handle
Social media engagement is great for both speakers and attendees. Make it easy for event guests to call out that great speaker quote by sharing their social media handle directly within the app. Help people who want to mention speakers in tweets do so as quickly as possible. This way guests can tweet without fear they’ll miss the next piece of wisdom because they were too busy trying to remember the spelling of that Twitter handle.
b. Time and location of the speaker’s session
People have speakers they love, and they want to build their schedule around these speakers. I’ve attended conferences where I look up a favorite speaker in my app, eager to see when their session is, and what they are speaking on. Then, after incessant tapping, scrolling, and searching, I discover that app simply doesn’t say when the presentation is. Instead, I have to scroll through hundreds of sessions, either chronologically or alphabetically by presentation title. Neither one of these is very helpful, and I’m left doing my best to make sure I don’t scroll past the very name I’m looking for.
If you’re taking the time to have information on each speaker, why not add when they are presenting? For that matter, include a summary of the presentation topic, too!
7. Alerts: Keynotes, speakers, and competitions
Have I mentioned that events are busy? I have? Well, it can’t be said enough when event planning. No matter how well you structure your event, some attendees will have a hard time fitting everything in. They want time to network with speakers, each other, and sponsors. They need to take care of the essentials, like eating and phone-charging. Plus, the office can be calling and emailing with urgent tasks that need attending to.
Put these together, and it’s easy for one item to run into the next; suddenly your delegate has lost track of time. Enabling push notifications for important event elements, such as keynote addresses, networking, or deadlines to enter competitions will help ensure your attendees don’t miss out. I’m speaking from experience here – it’s easy to get caught up in an amazing conversation and suddenly realize you’ve missed your chance to get a good seat at the keynote address!
This is why limited push notifications are appreciated. Just make sure you don’t send too many push notifications, and you select the content of those notifications carefully. Otherwise, you’ll find attendees ignoring notifications, or just plain getting annoyed.
8. Interactive features
Just like a webinar, real-life events meet the need for interactive education. By attending in person, your attendees should be given more value than they would receive from reading your speaker’s book. Having an event app with the ability to submit speaker questions ensures all guests can raise their digital hand, regardless of how big the room is. And, as a bonus for you and your speakers, you can filter through all of those questions, and choose ones which will give the most value to the audience as a whole.
Polls are another feature event attendees love. Instead of a one-way presentation that feels a bit like being talked at, polling gives the opportunity for engagement. Speakers can use polls to build curiosity of attendees. Say there is a statistic your speaker is going to share. Before stating that fact, your speaker can poll the room. Guests will be eager to see how they rank compared to the others in the room and as well as the industry standard.
Why you’ve got to get your event app right
All of these features are there to serve your guests and provide them with the best possible experience. However, when your event app doesn’t live up to guest expectations, it does more harm than good. If people spend too much time navigating your app, trying to find the information they’re looking for, you’ll find that “quick and easy” app set-up to be nothing more than a wasted investment.
By taking the time to build an event app your attendees will love, you’ll create an experience they will want to return to year after year.
*This post has been written by guest blogger, Kristen McCabe, from G2 Crowd. G2 Crowd is the leading website for online business software and service reviews, where EventMobi ranks as a High Performer on the Summer 2018 Mobile Event Apps Report.