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Your Guide to Choosing an App for Your Next Event

August 23, 2021
Brooke Wilson

When in-person events shut down in March of 2020 and the industry transitioned to convening online, all of us were thrown into the deep end of digital tools and told to swim. Providers found their once “futuristic” solutions needed updates immediately, and organizers scrambled to learn a new vocabulary of tech terms.

We’ve come a long way in the past 17 months and not only have events adapted to digital platforms, they’ve excelled in them. As we begin gathering in-person again, what happens to all of the things we like about being online when it’s no longer how we spend most of our day? The answer is right in your hand.  

The average American spends around 5.4 hours a day on their mobile device. It is the most used piece of personal technology and is our primary way of interacting with the world. We have apps that help us do everything from manage our finances to finding the perfect banana bread recipe. Leveraging the mobile app as a dynamic tool can be a great way to enhance the event experience, but just like digital event platforms, it is important to select the right one.

Below are some key features you should look for in your post-pandemic event app:

Real-time Engagement

One of the greatest evolutions to come out the pandemic-forced pivot to digital is our comfort level with engagement tools. If you ever found yourself struggling to keep up with a session chat because of how fast it raced by, you know what I’m talking about. Tools like chat, Q&A, and polling are what make watching an online session so great. We can ask questions without having to muster the courage to speak into a microphone, and we can have an equally compelling side conversation without being rude or interrupting the speaker. The question is, how do we keep this innovation in engagement going as we move back in person? Answer: the mobile app. Not only should these tools be easily accessible to on-site attendees, speakers should actively incorporate them in their presentations. We got much better at engaging with content over the last year, let’s keep the momentum going.

Integrations

All organizers know that there are lot of moving pieces when it comes to planning an event. It makes life much easier when these pieces communicate and operate in a cohesive manner.  Sometimes the technological elements of your event all come from the same provider; however, that’s usually not the case. Most of the time you’re dealing with a few different systems that have their own rules. When looking for an event app, you don’t have to limit yourself to using your current providers, but make sure it is able to integrate with the other systems you're using. Be aware of the cost, time and effort it will take to branch out as well.

Gamification

We’ve seen gamification boom in the last year as it was an easy addition to a digital event platform. Video games + online platform, it only made sense. Don’t lose that momentum by incorporating gaming elements into your event app. Have attendees engage with the app so that they can earn points to do something fun on site - participate in activations, spin a wheel to win a prize, demo a cool gadget. If your audience isn’t the competitive type, that’s ok! Gamification comes in many forms. Make their event experience more personalized with preference quizzes or bespoke greetings from the app.  Another option is to convert their app usage into donations to a charity of their choice. Whatever method you use, remember to have fun with it.

Analytics

Wasn’t it was great being able to access data reports in real time at the click of a button?  One of the best benefits of digital events is knowing exactly how many clicks a page received, how long someone watched a video and what the most popular part of your event is. Unfortunately, if you remember, in-person events don’t have that same luxury. Instead, they typically rely on feedback surveys that are sent long after the event and receive minimal response. The good news is, a mobile app can bridge the analytics gap. Make sure your event app tracks the data points that are going to be the most useful for your organization, and don’t forget to incent your audience to use it. If your app isn’t engaging, you won’t be gathering much information.

Let’s not lose the technological ground we’ve gained from producing digital events as we make the transition back to in-person.