What Do I Need in an App?
As an event organizer, you have probably heard the buzz about “conference apps.” Perhaps your attendees have even asked for one in the past. However, before investing a lot of time and money, it is imperative to understand the basics of what you should be looking for in a meeting or event app and why a good one is so valuable.
Right from the start, a good conference app will save you money. One of the most significant costs in organizing an event is the printed material. This includes the agendas, promotional materials, maps, and so on. These can all be digitized, which also means fewer hours and headaches when there are last-minute revisions. Each attendee will now have access to the latest information at all times. Some vendors will even allow you to push updates to this content while your event is ongoing. For some events, the time and cost savings in this area alone are enough to justify the price.
For an event to be truly successful, your attendees need to connect with each other. This can be hard to accomplish, even with smaller groups or focused sessions. Your event needs a catalyst to create those connections. This is why many conference apps include social networking features built specifically for events, which encourages engagement throughout. Higher engagement levels also equate to higher perceived value for your attendees. At a bare minimum, your app choice should include features for making connections through existing social media.
While looking at the features in any conference app, you will also want to consider how your exhibitors will benefit from your choice. How can they leverage it? Your ideal app choice should have lead tracking capabilities. Look for features which speed up the entire process of capturing a prospective customer’s information. The typical options will include QR code or NFC scanning, which allows your exhibitors to access the attendee’s contact information and save it for follow-up. A great way of thinking about the whole process is to imagine the act of exchanging business cards in a digital space. Some apps go a few steps further and allow the exhibitor to save notes or use other notations and categorization when scanning the prospect’s information. Be sure to mention the fact that you are using a conference app with these features when you are selling exhibitor space for your event.
If your attendees are earning any Continuing Education credits (CE or CPE), you already know that capturing this information and generating reports can place much burden on your administrative staff. Some conference apps give you the perfect opportunity to digitize the process. Look for features that will assist in documenting each attendee’s presence in their sessions; this can include anything from Bluetooth beacons for location tracking to “code word” entry at the beginning and end of the session. Of course, you will also want to be able to access this data after the fact to compile credits for each attendee. Each app has a different solution. As event managers, having a successful meeting or conference is your responsibility, so take the time to understand what your app can and cannot do to support your group’s experience. A great conference app may be the one thing your meeting is missing.