There are a lot of different criteria involved in creating a really great conference or convention. Everybody knows the basics: have a good lineup of speakers. Invite an enthusiastic audience. Provide entertainment. Make sure there are food and beverages available. Make the event accessible. Have a strict Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy and then abide by them. And, of course, you need to have apps.
While it’s a good idea to provide a paper-based program to your attendees, you, your event organizers and your attendees will get a lot more mileage out of a smart phone app.
Conference and convention apps have come a long way over the last couple of years. Once individually designed at great expense, today’s convention and conference organizers can simply choose a conference app template and customize it to fit their needs and preferences.
Why Use Apps
There are plenty of reasons to choose to use apps over physical programs.
Apps Are Always Current: When you use paper based information there is a chance that the paper someone is holding is outdated. When a change is made to a schedule or a lineup, printing the materials that communicate that change takes time and, in the case of many events, will have to be handed out independently of the master program (since those are usually large and complicated books that require advance printing). With an app, you can simply type in the change and it is instantly universally updated within the program and it can be communicated to every person who has downloaded the app into their devices instantaneously.
Apps Facilitate Conversation: Every event has a healthy population of people who are introverted or shy. If you enable a chat or check-in feature within your app, you provide a means of communication for those who might not want to simply walk up and start talking to people. Messaging features can also be customized to allow people to build their own groups within the app which helps with planning and organizing. If you’ve ever tried to hunt down your friends and figure out where to go for dinner, you’ll know how handy having a messaging feature can be!
Apps Facilitate Feedback: In addition to providing the means for attendees to communicate with each other, event apps also provide methods for attendees to communicate with speakers, panelists, and even the event organizers themselves. This helps you see how your talk, panel, and event are being received by your audience and correct any mistakes or problems as they arise. This feedback is also useful to other attendees who might need help figuring out whether to see someone’s next presentation or to let them know to avoid a certain area until a problem has been solved.
Apps Make Money. Just as you would sell advertising space within a physical program, you can often sell advertising space within your app. And, because more people are guaranteed to see it, you can often raise your rate for this advertising space. That revenue can then be used to offset the cost of the event.
More than Conference Apps
The convention app is just one of the apps that is useful during a convention or a conference. Other apps that have proven effective are Square, which is incredibly useful in the vendor hall as it allows vendors to accept mobile payments, and Skype which can help presenters teleconference in if they are not able to attend in person.
The point is that relying solely on paper-based communication is for the past. People are going to be on their phones anyway, right? Instead of fighting against that, embrace it!