The Future of Event Apps

How event apps should evolve to meet attendees' growing need to experience such functions.

Event apps are a great way to help attendees navigate floor plans, find session information and schedule their days. But although 83 percent of attendees use social media for events, 59 percent of respondents have been slow to adopt event apps, according to the Event App Bible. Part of that may be because attendees seek features that event apps aren’t offering, such as registration integration and attendee matchmaking.

But only 33 percent of event professionals report that at least half their attendees are using their event app. So what can event professionals do to improve guests’ app experiences?

Attendees want to use event apps primarily as a way to interact with other attendees. A successful app experience requires that guests both download and use the app. Are attendees aware of your app? Promote it early and often to ensure that attendees are downloading it. Then use push notifications to get them to interact with its features and see the value in using it throughout the event.

Depending on the types of features your target demographic may expect, consider whether or not you want to provide a native or Web app. Native apps, which are developed specifically for each operating system, can offer a better user experience, but they also take up precious memory on attendees’ smartphones, especially for something they may use only once and be done with. Web-based apps, on the other hand, don’t require a download (though they may offer a shortcut icon to make it easier to access the app), but they may not have access to the native features that make apps more entertaining and engaging. Hybrid apps also are available for a seamless experience, but native will offer the most versatile options.

Popular features to consider, in addition to the attendees matchmaking and registration indicated above, include: push notifications, feedback, event/exhibitor profiles, lead retrieval, private in-app chat or messaging, appointment scheduling, social media sign-in, slide/document sharing and audience response systems. IBeacon integration (which sends push notifications based on attendee location), livestreaming and gamification (interactive games with rewards) also might be of interest. 

Having more interactive features will, not surprisingly, also be more expensive, so consider the return on investment — or obtain sponsors to help underwrite some of the costs. But the result should be an app that enhances the event experience and helps attendees get the most out of their time.