Mobile Event Apps: A la Carte or Buffet?

A Breakout Session to Examine the Future of Mobile Event Management

We are in the middle of the mobile event app movement. As mobile apps continue to become critical in the day to day of the average person, it is imperative that the right mobile app is created strategically for the right use case in business settings.

By 2016, 86% of event planners will have an app at their event

Event planners need more robust, scalable and efficient ways to create and manage event logistics, while event attendees need more agile, effortless, and informative ways to access the same event details. The model of a mobile event app needs to be strategic and beneficial for both sides of the coin, with a mutual increase in overall event success and customer satisfaction.

Today, over 98% of the fortune 5000 have a smartphones and utilize apps to help manage business operations and information essential to key logistics and planning for events such as: sessions, agendas, travel, hospitality, accommodations, dining, and the ability to network and collaborate with new colleagues, peers and partners.

The Problem
The current landscape for mobile event apps leans toward external vendors and agencies that build a platform for the event app and charge a one-time cost per event, and per user in some instances. Some corporations try to take this on internally by adding extraneous resources and engineers which becomes time and cost prohibitive. This continues to becomes an exponentially large cost, as with each event, a new marketing budget is required for expenditure around the new event. A per event, or per attendee model is neither scalable nor advantageous to the customer or client.

“Every company’s future is going to depend on whether they catch the market transitions right. Forty percent of the companies in this room won't exist, in my opinion, in a meaningful way in 10 years unless they change dramatically.” John Chambers

Given the incessant rise of smartphones and mobile apps, it is a necessity for companies to have a better way to communicate with each other and their customers, extending the customer experience beyond what is and has been. With 80% of internet users owning a smartphone and an expected 6.6% annual growth rate for corporate events over the next 5 years, the space is ready for something disruptive that is useful, cost effective, scalable, and powerful.

Going Digital
The standard corporate company in the Fortune 100 will typically host 4 - 6 major tentpole events each year with additional 1 - 2,000 smaller events that may consist of 10 - 50 attendees, creating a wide range of event size and allocation. Approximately 98% of corporate events are less than 200 people, with the top 2% accounting for massive event attendance. This equation results in corporations planning and hosting a prodigious volume and range of events and customer meetings annually (not even crediting events they may be less involved in or sponsoring). Any format or combination begs for corporations to leverage their own, custom mobile event app to manage their executives, partners, and channel members for networking, sessions, tracks, and social events that are integral to the overall event experience. 

Mobile apps retain customer intelligence and data that can be a strategic initiative for a company to measure event success and understand how to open new opportunities, and create interest with core customers and partners. The typical buying cycle doesn’t happen in a one-event situation, but rather over a series of events and customer touchpoints, as part of the customer journey. Having the capability to aggregate that data into one metric system is an essential component of acquiring customer intelligence from the boardroom to the convention floor.

We’re seeing an emergence of SaaS platform models that are scalable and allow companies to track customer intelligence from event to event to event. As a Customer Experience Strategist, with 12 years of experience in the event space, I’ve had exposure to events as large as 12,000 attendees at HP Discover to more intimate Google events with 40 - 60 attendees. No matter how big or how small, they all can leverage the same feature set no matter the size or scope of the event. Based on our experiences we’ve identified the benefits to the primary use cases for event based mobile apps. 

Benefits to the Attendee
It’s all about the customer experience journey. How the attendee interacts with and experiences the event is the focal point. If your attendees don’t feel like they’re getting the ‘white-glove’ touchpoints of the world’s top luxury brands, then you’re missing the mark when it comes to the customer experience. Everything literally needs to be in the palm of their hand, especially when on-site, to help them better manage themselves and their overall event expectations. Following are a few high-level customer experience features:

  • Detailed agendas, room location, time, maps, speaker and attendees
  • eContent (presentations, PDFs, videos and links)
  • Maps with GPS
  • Pre, during, and post logistics that are crucial to making the attendee aware and engaged with access to presentations within the session itself.
  • Activity stream, to stay informed ‘by the second’ on the latest social chatter at the event.
  • In-app notifications to guide attendees to proper areas when there are last minute changes with sessions or speakers.
  • Easy-to-use, contextually aligned surveys attendees can access and interact with via speech-to-text dictation within their mobile device.


Benefits to the Event Manager
2015 surveys indicate corporate event planners intend to increase app spending over the next year. For the event manager, the most important aspect of mobile event apps is saving them time. With additional time, planners can be more creative, and to focus on improving the experience for attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, visitors and their teams. The typical event manager is beyond busy coordinating on-site details during an event. A mobile app helps to manage content and organize attendee expectations to help save them time. Following are a few high-level management features:

  • An intuitive back-end system allows event managers to make quick adjustments to agenda details, push notifications, and real-time updates insuring their attendees are always connected and well-informed.
  • Flexible configurations to quickly adjust room and location information.
  • An easy-to-use notification engine allows event managers to create and pre-schedule notifications for individuals, groups, or all attendees aligned to daily activities.
  • Session leaders can upload presentation decks and easily accessible, downloadable information after the conclusion of each session.
  • Detailed, real-time event metrics are accessible pre, during and post event to give event managers a holistic view of # of users, downloaded content and post-event results.

Benefits to the Enterprise
The average big company will spend about 14% of its overall marketing budget this year on industry conferences and customer events targeted at business buyers. The enterprise ultimately needs a solution that is scalable from event to event and also allows each event to have its own identity within corporate brand standards. Agility and scalability are key components from a financial and economic standpoint for organizations to quickly on-board and deploy their mobile event apps as part of their marketing spend throughout the year. Following are a few high-level enterprise features: 

  • Use Case: A CIO may go to a spring event and visit a particular session around collaboration platforms; then attend the same session again in the fall on the same topic. Understanding the simple, sequential interest in that CIO’s journey gives enterprises a strong understanding that they are beyond awareness, fully interested and likely considering that particular platform for their company’s operational and technical business operations.
  • Use Case: If Sales has access to the content that their customers have viewed, they have more insight into their interests and where they are at in the buyer's journey. This can be a huge benefit allowing them to streamline their process and shorten the sales cycle.
  • Use Case: Digital surveys enable a direct line of communication and feedback from attendees to the event management team.  The fact that they are digital and mobile makes the feedback easy to compose and send (via mobile device transcription) and convenient to fill out (any where, any time).  The information is priceless to the event management team, and suggestions from the last event can turn into immediate improvements at the next event.

Taking Advantage of the Solution
Mobile event apps have quickly become one of the fastest-growing technologies in the event landscape, providing an all-encompassing and efficient tool for enhancing event management, mitigating event costs, increasing overall efficiencies, delivering real-time information and content, capturing event analytics, and nurturing social interactions and engagement between attendees, partners, and organizers. Knowing what we know, we developed a mobile app platform for events hitting all of these features and more taking into consideration all crucial touchpoints of the customer experience journey for event attendees, event managers, and event business groups.

The SaaS based model with key integrated functionalities and fiscal pricing model will disrupt the event market moving into 2016. With a low monthly cost that allows enterprises to create and manage as many events as needed to fit their business objectives truly fosters a mobile event app model that fits into the growth of the industry, the growth of technology, and the growth of businesses for years to come. Our cloud-based approach is secure and scalable for managing events that range from 20 to any number of attendees. Unlimited events. Unlimited attendees. Unlimited potential.

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