More and more associations are turning to apps to better run their events. However there are still many organizations on the fence about making the jump from paper to mobile. Yes, it might be scary - the thought of not having printed agendas to hand out at your next event. But to get the big picture, what apprehensive association execs and event planners must first consider is their own mobile habits.
In 2019, it should no longer be a debate whether or not association members can handle a mobile-first approach during a conference or convention. Would they choose letters over texts to communicate? Rely on only physical newspapers or magazines for all the latest news? Have to carry around a collection of business cards instead of a digital contacts list? Probably not, as these are not ideal. These avenues open up the gates for lost messages, outdated information and many missed engagement opportunities. Paper is stationary while mobile is real time.
When you replace printed materials for an app, you’re storing all event content in one convenient place and keeping it up-to-date. Say there’s a change in the program, such a room or time adjustment. An organization can easily make that announcement via push notification and update the mobile agenda to reflect it. It’s important in moments like that to be able to grab the attention of attendees immediately to help avoid confusion.
Event sessions are greatly enhanced through the use of mobile. Not only can they be added to an attendee’s personalized schedule for optimal planning, but coordinating live Q&A’s, surveys and polls can happen in the same place as well. Surveys are vital for feedback and are much more likely to happen on a phone vs. on a sheet of paper (because how many non-digital surveys are actually getting turned in). Staff will thank you as well when there is no manual entry involved afterwards. Session presentations and relevant materials can then become available inside of the app, right after it’s ended. This allows the content to be easily reviewed and shared right away.
And don’t forget about advertising. In-app ad performance far succeeds that of printed advertisements. Ads within apps offer real and measured results to sponsors with tracked impressions, clicks and overall engagement. The same can not be done from an ad printed onto a pamphlet. This better exposes attendees to the products or services of your event partners (with the ability to instantly visit their site or take advantage of an offer) while also creating room to generate more sponsorship revenue.
They key to attendee adoption of mobile is preparedness and promotion. The app should not come as a surprise the day of the event, nor should attendees come in cold without any knowledge of how to navigate or what features are available. This is where on and offline tutorials and effective, ongoing promotional communication comes into play. This is also why a year-round mobile solution is so much more valuable than those that are only live during events. If an app is already integrated with your members and how they engage with the organization throughout the year, usability will be a no-brainer when events continually come up.
Apps aren’t going anywhere. Good mobile technology serves to smooth out operations and keep users constantly connected in an environment that requires a lot of moving pieces, a widespread gathering of communities and top-notch coordination. To have features on hand like interactive news feeds, forums, member directories, direct and group messaging, resource centers, mobile agendas with session details, surveys and polls, notes sections, event maps, information links, exhibitor lists, QR code scanning, and the list of possibilities goes on… makes a world of difference within an event's success. When an attendee is sold on an app and is enjoying its experience, that traditional printed agenda quickly becomes a very obsolete, unnecessary and tossed thing of the past.