11 Reasons to Launch an App for Your Event
The benefits of having an app for your business, association, law firm, and nonprofit are clear. But what about an app built for a specific event or series of events? While this might seem excessive at first, in 2019 it’s almost mainstream to have a native app for conferences and is replacing the need for many of the elements and resources required at an event, such as printed guides, programs, maps, and much more. Plus, it creates an easy way for your event attendees to plan ahead of time, preparing information and creating their own schedules before they even get there.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, conventions and events are expected to expand by 44% between 2010 and 2020. This increase in events and conventions coincides with an increased interest from customers in attending events. Events could include everything from conventions, conferences, galas, parties, art exhibitions, sporting games, fundraisers, carnivals, and much more. And with an overall increase in event attendance, there is also an increased opportunity to introduce technology and apps into your event marketing and operations.
Key Reasons to Have an Event App
Event technology is reported to help increase event attendance by 20%, increase productivity by 27%, and decrease costs by 20-30%. Event apps are very helpful to organizations that host and manage many events throughout the year, such as associations and nonprofits. However, any company or business can reap the benefits of using event apps to aid their event management.
Event apps can be a primary tool for promotion. Apps such as EventBrite were designed for any account-holder to easily promote an event for their business or organization, and the interface allows users to search through a wide array of events in their city or neighborhood. For apps specifically designed for a certain event, once a user has downloaded the app, push notifications from the app can alert the user to early information, like early bird registrations or when speakers have been announced. Event apps can also help promotion by highlighting an annual or reoccuring event to a user who already has the app. In addition, this helps to keep people engaged with the organization both before and after the event and encourages them to attend again in the future.
Another key reason for having an event app is to cut down on the amount of paper and physical resources used. Nearly all events have tons of printouts for attendees, including agendas, programs, flyers, books, etc. These are all very costly to produce and print, and become a source of stress if a lineup or session changes in any way. Event apps allow organizers to go paperless, giving users all the information they need from wherever they are. Information becomes easy to change and update, the event costs go down, and the entire process is more environmentally friendly.
Features and Capabilities of Event Apps
When planning an event, an important but often overlooked feature is a description of the event or events taking place. Including information regarding what the event will be about, who will be there, and why you are having the event will help your audience better understand and appreciate the event they’re attending.
List of speakers & speaker profiles
With many conferences and conventions, the main draw is the speakers and lecturers that will be there. Most programs include a section on speakers and their profiles, which provides event attendees with valuable information about who they are listening to and learning from. Most attendees would rather find this information from their mobile phones, which they will undoubtedly have on their person, rather than from a disposable, easy-to-lose paper flyer. Having this information in an event app can really benefit your attendees compared to just a mobile website as the information and resources it provides are accessible even with slow or spotty WiFi, as well as being easy to find on your phone and are guaranteed to be optimized for mobile. Not to mention it’s an easy way to save some paper and benefit your attendees.
88% of event attendees said that access to event schedules in an event app is extremely important. User-generated agendas are similar to general event schedules and programs but more advanced. Attendees are able to see all of the events, lectures, and performances available to attend during the day, but as an added bonus, can make their own master schedule of the sessions they would like to attend, along with any descriptions and locations for the sessions. This helps users better organize their own schedule ahead of time—with an event app, attendees no longer have to sift through copious amounts of irrelevant information every time they want to see what room number they’re going to.
Map of event venue
Maps are a great benefit to include in any app, but especially event apps. Conferences and conventions tend to be in large convention centers, big hotels, or college campuses. Because of this, it can be hard for new attendees or out-of-towners to know where to go. Including a digital map of the event venue can help users find their intended location and better plan for a day of room-hopping.
As mentioned earlier, push notifications can be a great add-on for an app focused on event management or engagement. Push notifications can be used prior to an event to alert users of early registrations, sign ups, and up-to-the-minute information about speakers, activities, or giveaways. During the event, push notifications can be used to inform attendees of news regarding the event, schedule changes, alerts for the start of presentations, and much more. Oftentimes you can get creative with push notifications, so figure out a way to make them entertaining for all event attendees.
For any company or organization running a large event, it’s likely you have at least several sponsors. Because of this you need to make sure you showcase your sponsors, which can be done easily and efficiently through your event apps. Having a separate sponsors page in the app showcases the good work of your sponsors and can also allow for links directly to your sponsors’ websites. Through the app you can also include elements like highlighting sponsor events, sponsor ads, or even sponsored push notifications (be careful with that one though, as some attendees might see it as annoying and disruptive). Showcasing sponsors on your app can be a great way to (again) digitize your event resources and lead to more revenue for your sponsors with direct links.
Depending on the event, attendee lists can be a great perk in an event app. This would best benefit an academic or professional conference, where networking is a high priority for most attendees. Allowing your users to access a list of all the people attending the event gives them the opportunity to see who is attending and who they should try to meet with or arrange a meeting with. It also gives users the opportunity to see if there is anyone they don’t know but would love to connect with on a professional level. Basically, you are allowing your app to facilitate an in-person LinkedIn experience.
In-app messaging for attendees
Messaging is one of the best features in any app. Giving your users a platform to message other event attendees and event managers makes it possible to easily connect with people and ask questions in a quick manner. In-app messaging can also allow for troubleshooting, especially if there is a feature to message those in charge of event logistics. Messaging software is almost always a benefit because it allows you to connect with others without the burden and security concern of exchanging your mobile number with everyone.
Earlier we mentioned that event apps can help facilitate engagement before, during, and after events. The main way to do this after an event is to include surveys. Attendees like to be involved in events and most people are willing to fill out a quick survey if they believe it will benefit them later on. After your event, you can send out digital surveys to your event attendees, asking for feedback on any aspect of the event. This is extremely valuable because it helps you to keep up with attendee wants and demands. Figure out how to better arrange the schedule, what aspects people liked the most, or whether the food was up to snuff. An in-app survey gives you valuable knowledge to make the event bigger and better next time.
Examples of Event Apps
HubSpot Inbound Conference App
App: INBOUND 2018
HubSpot is known for its digital marketing and content management systems, especially its expertise in inbound marketing. Once a year HubSpot hosts its conference, INBOUND, designed for those dedicated expanding their expertise in marketing, sales and customer success. The app’s main function is to allow users to build and manage their schedule for the week, as well as navigate the events and receive important information and event updates throughout the entire conference. The app linked here is for the 2018 conference, because HubSpot builds a new app each year for the conference. The app is praised for being extremely functional and user-accessible, two of the most important features in any app design.
Official Comic-Con App
Organization: San Diego Comic Convention Inc.
App: Official Comic Con App
Whether you’re a comic enthusiast or not, you may have heard of San Diego Comic Con. This convention has its own app available for both Apple and Android. Designed to be a digital guide for the convention, the app offers features like updated event schedules, maps, exhibitor information, lists of special guests, and news updates. The current app has been around since 2010 and is continually updated for all new conventions. As far as functionality, many users like the app’s purpose but find the number of pop-up ads irritating and annoying. Also, some of the images on the most current version of the app are too low of a resolution to see accurately. This shows just how important design and user experience are while making a mobile event app.
Organization: Art Beats Inc.
Although it does not focus on a specific art gallery or museum, the NYArtBeat app helps users to navigate the ever-changing exhibitions and events in the New York City art scene. Its main features include providing users with an interactive map to find art events in walking distance, popular lists to find out what most people are going to, the ability to bookmark events and browse all current exhibitions, and directions and opening times for every gallery. Many users love the app for it’s functionality and wealth of information, comparing it to a mobile art concierge. This app does cost $1.99 to download but it’s worth it for art-loving travelers or those highly engaged in the New York art scene.
App in iTunes Store
The logistics and management of conferences, conventions, and other events is changing fast and an event app can help you meet the needs of a more digitized world. 60% of event planners say that event apps increase attendee engagement. In addition to this, event apps help to promote event marketing, reduce costs, and increase efficiency in event logistics. While some might consider it overkill to have an app for one event, the long-term benefits of the app oftentimes outweigh the short-term costs of app development. Also, keep in mind that once you have built an app for an event, that app can be used again and again every year with just updates and maintenance. In today’s tech-savvy world, offering information and benefits digitally will keep users engaged long after the event is over.
Mobile app development might seem overwhelming, but there are many resources and platforms out there to help any organization build the perfect event app that fits into their budget. Hatch Apps is a service-enabled platform with a mission to bring transparency, speed and price stability to the software development industry. We work hand-in-hand with customers to deploy custom software, leveraging pre-built components and building more for less. Make sure to book a conversation with a member of our team to learn about how app development can fit in your marketing strategy and event budget.