Organizing an event is no simple task — could event apps change that? From small meetings to international conferences and trade shows, an event’s success hinges on information and data. Well-informed attendees are more engaged and can maximize their time at the event. And event organizers who know who their attendees are and how they’re engaging can use that insight to improve their events.
Great results don’t start at the end of an event — the stage is set during the planning process. An event app is a big part of this phase and will continue to play a role in the event’s outcome after the show is over.
Here’s what you need to know about event apps and how they make a perfect addition to your next event.
Let’s start with the definition of a mobile event app — what is it, exactly?
An event app is just like the apps you already have on your Apple iPhone or Android device. You download the event app from your app store. When you open the app, you’ll find features that are relevant to your event.
These features might include:
The app is completely custom to your event. You can include things like your event logo, fonts, and other branding elements to give the app a native feel.
Ultimately, the goal of an event app is to improve the attendee experience, which can help event hosts generate more revenue and improve their event outcomes.
Just like a regular app, event organizers will create an app that’s specific to your event and add it to the app store. Attendees can download the app to use during the event to find information, content, and people.
Every event app is a little different because it’s tailored to a specific event. However, you usually find many of the same features and functions in every event app.
For example, a user may be able to view the event schedule and set reminders for sessions they’re interested in. They can create their own itineraries and avoid the chance of missing something important.
Event apps can also allow attendees to connect with presenters or other attendees. You can easily find people that share your interests or are attending the same sessions, making networking that much easier.
Most event apps are able to send users push notifications to alert them about special moments or upcoming sessions. This is a great way to add value to an event so users don’t miss out on the most important aspects. Event hosts can also upload content throughout the event, such as video recaps or full sessions on demand. Make the experience as rich as you like!
Event apps can vary in features, depending on who developed the app and what the event hosts want in an app. If you’re new to event apps and want to explore the potential, the following features are worth some thought:
One of the quintessential event app features is a live feed that “broadcasts” the event’s happenings to users. The feed is usually on the home screen of the event app. It shows content from event hosts, speakers, and even attendees. Think of it as your own personal Twitter for your event!
Feeds are a great way to keep attendees informed of what’s happening. It also encourages them to contribute to conversations and upload their own event content (which you can use in your future event marketing).
Want to share your event with the world? An event app makes it easy if you have social media integrations. You can push your event app content to a variety of social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This can give your event major exposure and ensure you’re properly tagged in all the posts.
Networking is a hallmark of any event, large or small. Networking within the app makes it easy for people to make new connections. You can upload your photo so people can put your name and face together. Strike up one-on-one conversations within the app or participate in group discussions. If your event app uses AI technologies, you might even try to play matchmaker based on user profiles. Help people find each other from similar backgrounds, roles, locations, or other criteria.
Engagement is a critical piece of your event’s success. Polling features make it quick and easy for users to engage with your event. Just add a poll to the event app home page and users can log their answers with a simple tap. You decide whether you want to share the results of the poll on the spot or announce them later on during the event. Have a different poll for each day of the event, or even for each session.
Similar to polls, event organizers can include interactive quizzes to boost engagement. These quizzes can relate to specific sessions or the event as a whole. Build value in your event by “quizzing” users on things that matter. For instance, if attendees have lots of options for sessions, help them find where they can best spend their time with a quiz.
Live event attendees have the benefit of engaging with speakers during a Q&A. But what about remote attendees or someone who is currently in another session? A Q&A feature allows everyone to participate, or at least listen to what other attendees are asking. They can even submit questions to presenters ahead of time or after the session is over.
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get engagement through the roof. Gamification features allow you to turn your event into a competition. Users collect points based on actions they take, such as checking in to certain areas, visiting vendors, or attending sessions. They can redeem their points for prizes, discounts, or special event privileges. The possibilities are endless!
Wayfinding contributes to your event’s overall success. If attendees can’t find their way to sessions, exhibitors, or other event components, they’re not likely to engage to their potential. An interactive map can help users bookmark places that are important to them. They get a bird’s eye view of the event at all times from their phones and know what’s happening and where.
Schedules are another big part of your event’s success. A schedule of sessions and happenings shows attendees where they should plan to spend their time. They’ll know who’s on stage, what time the party starts, and where it’s happening. Some event apps let the user create custom itineraries and add specific sessions to their calendar app. They can set alerts before a session begins so they don’t miss a minute.
Just like your website has a content management system, so do event apps. This is your interface to upload content to the event, from images to videos to documents and more. Keep everything in one place and easily create the experiences you envision for your users.
Want to customize the appearance of your event app? Ready-made event apps like Canapii make it easy to infuse your own brand with themes and templates. You can add your own branding elements. It’s easier than building an event app from the ground up — and faster, too!
For international audiences, event apps offer multiple languages so users can navigate the event in a way that suits them. There’s no translating on your part, either. The app handles all the translation so users can get the most from their experience.
Push notifications are messages that appear on a user’s device. These allow event organizers to share important details, announcements, or reminders at scale. Users that enable push notifications from your event app will receive these communications from you.
Some event apps include live chat features to spark conversations between attendees, presenters, and brands. Users can connect before, during, and after sessions and other event segments. Combined with other features, like social media integration, a live chat function can drastically improve networking and event exposure
If your event is being funded by sponsors, an event app can help you boost their recognition. Sponsors expect exposure at events, and you can easily create a directory on the event app that helps them get seen. You may also be able to link the sponsor’s listing to their website or a special landing page, thereby increasing the value to each sponsor.
Event apps can help you make more money throughout your event, especially when it comes to in-app purchases. For instance, you might allow attendees to upgrade their event pass for special privileges, sell branded items, order lunch or premium refreshments, or book one-on-one meetings with presenters. Monetizing your event app can help you cover the costs of the app!
If your event is catering to a travelling audience, adding a city guide can help them find their way around. Share points of interest, such as nearby attractions and public transportation. Include things like restaurants and hotels within walking distance. City guides can be extremely valuable resources — especially if you can also use them to earn sponsorships.
Post-event marketing is your last chance to make an impression on your attendees and get their feedback. Event apps can make this process more seamless. Just send your attendees a quick survey through the app!
Collecting engagement through the app gives you essential analytics to help you track your performance. See at a glance your most engaged attendees, features that made an impact, and the content that resonated with your audience. Use these insights to improve your shortcomings and build on your successes.
Event apps are becoming more commonplace in all types of events. A growth in event app infrastructure is helping to fuel the trend. But also, event goers are starting to expect it.
Studies estimate that in 40% of events will be virtual in 2022. The majority of event organizers say they struggle to create virtual events that mimic the real-life experience, something that is a top priority for organizers and attendees alike.
And with 93% of marketers planning to invest in virtual events in the near future, it’s becoming more important than ever to bridge the gap between in-person and virtual event experiences.
Event apps are helping to close this gap by providing hybrid experiences for attendees. For in-person and remote users, the event app serves as a hub that keeps everyone connected. Users can tune into sessions via the app, participate in Q&As and polls, see event content, and even network with others
A few other event stats worth knowing:
There’s no doubt that event apps hold an important place in the organizer’s toolkit. As the face and logistics of events continue to evolve post-COVID, event apps are more likely to grow in use and function, too.
Engagement is one of the driving forces behind an event app. But what’s exactly does engagement mean in the grand scheme of things? Unpacking the engagement theory, we see several unique benefits of using an event app:
Organizing successful events means discovering the answers to tough questions. For instance, Why did your guests decide to attend your event? What do they want to get out of it? How can you meet their expectations?
Event apps give you deeper insight into the user journey. Look at the content they engage with and how they respond to various aspects of the event. These can give you clues into their priorities, challenges, and reasons for attending.
Event apps can help you make more money by creating additional revenue streams. With mobile wallets and payment apps on the rise, users are no longer strangers to making purchases via their smartphones. Attendees can purchase branded event gear, upgrade their experience, or buy items from vendors through the app, for example. With more opportunities to generate event revenue, your events can become more profitable than ever.
Sponsors are an important piece of event profitability. However, in order to attract sponsors, they need to feel like they’re receiving something in return. Exposure is one of the main reasons brands sponsor events, and the more exposure you can offer them, the more valuable their sponsorship becomes.
You can increase the value of a sponsorship using an event app. Include them in the app directory, along with a link to their website or landing page. Attendees can engage with sponsors directly within the app. Plus, sponsors can track engagement from attendees with special links or codes and know their sponsorship was a huge success.
Just like any other type of digital technology, event apps allow you to connect with a mass audience at scale. It reduces the need to spend money on printed materials whose purpose will end once the event is over. Event apps can maintain digital copies of all your content, and your guests can refer back to them again and again. Plus, you can get your event information into everyone’s hands effortlessly.
One of the most beneficial part of event apps for organizers is the ability to track your event’s success. In the past, organizers could only rely on metrics like registrations, check-ins, and revenue. They could visually gauge audience sentiment and engagement. But there was no fluid way to track and monitor these things.
Event apps can collect more data at scale. Plus, event organizers can keep this data and use it to compare event performances over time.
More event organizers are investing in event apps, but does your event need an app?
It’s a fair question, especially since creating an event app isn’t a quick and simple process. In general, the more complex your event, the more it makes sense to add an event app. It’s an ideal solution for multi-day events, events that span several locations, or high-profile events with lots of sessions and big-name speakers.
Also, if you are adding a virtual element to your event, an event app can help to unify the experience. Users can tune in via app and gain many of the advantages as attending the event in person.
Event apps can be worthwhile, especially if you have ways to monetize it.
So far, we’ve covered all of the benefits and perks of using an event app. It sounds all positive, but we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t also mention the full picture of using an event app.
First and foremost, event apps are something else you’ll need to promote. The app isn’t useful if people don’t download and use it. While you’re marketing your event, you’ll need to incorporate your app into the mix and make it easy for people to access.
You’ll also want to make sure that people can easily use the app within your event facility. App performance is often dependent on a strong internet connection. If you’re hosting an event in an area where cellular service is weak, you’ll need to make sure the location is equipped with Wi-Fi your guests can access.
There’s also the matter of developing the app. From one-off events to conferences you host every year, creating an app doesn’t happen overnight. It’s another line item in your budget, plus someone will need to oversee its development and testing.
These aren’t deal breakers by any means. But it does give you some food for thought to make your app investment worthwhile.
There are two paths to creating an event app. The first option is to make it yourself. You can work with mobile app developer to figure out how your app should look and function. They’ll build your app from the ground up to your specifications. It will be completely custom to you, but this can also make it harder to repurpose for future events. For instance, if you host different types of events for various audiences and topics, your event app might not work for all occasions.
The other option is to tap into ready-made infrastructure that offers the best worlds of customization and done-for-you technology. Canapii puts turnkey event apps into your hands with a range of purpose-built features and functions. From in-person events to virtual and hybrid shows, we help you keep attendees tuned in and connected.
Canapii’s feature-rich event app platform puts holistic function in your guests’ hands. From Q&As to polls to interactive content and more, it’s never been easier to create a wow-worthy event experience.
Contact us today for a free demo and let us help you transform your next event!