Looking for an event app and not sure where to start? You're not alone. We often hear from event organizers that choosing the right provider is a challenge.
Event tech moves fast, and the event app market faces lots of competition; you need to be more discerning than ever about selecting the right one.
Our era is one that's driven by experiences. Poor user experience matched with outdated technology can turn the power of an event app on its head.
But good news — we just so happen to know a thing or two about event apps, and we’re here to help!
The tendency is to send out a request for proposal with a list of features, but not enough attention is paid to the value behind them. Our suggestion is always to think value first and place yourself in the shoes of the people who will be using your app.
In this article, we share six tips for choosing your event app provider: what are the must-have features, details to consider and easy-to-apply hacks that will guarantee your event app is a success.
1) Understand what you need from an event app and what the provider will offer
Before you can get started, you need to understand why you want an event app and what are your objectives. If you require more clarity on what an event app does, we wrote this guide that breaks down the different terms surrounding event technology and where an event app fits in.
Assess your event goals. If you want to innovate, improve your attendee & exhibitor retention, sell additional services and have access to behavioural data before, during and after your event, then make sure you select a provider that will position themselves as a partner and align themselves with your strategy.
2) Look for an event app with a networking focus
Once you've determined your needs, the first item on your checklist to consider should be the event app’s networking feature. According to Event Manager Blog, 82% of participants at corporate events in 2018 cited networking as their top reason for attending; this was over both learning (71%) and entertainment (38%).
When looking at what an event app offers in terms of networking, you’ll want to make sure the following aspects are available:
✓ The full list of attendees, which are imported from your ticketing tool (you don’t want to have to manually import late-registered attendees)
✓ A search function, with the ability to custom filter the information provided during ticketing
✓ The option for attendees to create a profile that states who they want to meet at the event and what they wish to discuss
✓ Suggestions of who to meet, provided by artificial intelligence (this is a hot topic!)
✓ The possibility to chat and request/accept someone to join your network
✓ A meeting scheduler to plan to meet in person and reminders before each appointment
✓ A section to add notes and contextualize each contact
✓ The ability to export contacts to an Excel spreadsheet, which you can then integrate into a CRM for follow-ups
✓ That private contact information is shared only after a mutual agreement to connect
✓ The ability to do all of the above before the event begins. Time is precious — attendees are looking for efficiency and need to be able to prepare for your event in advance.
Whereas the event content can be printed or accessed on the event website, facilitated networking is exclusive to your event app and needs to be its most valuable feature. It’s also going to play a key role in onboarding your attendees, which brings us to our next point.
3) Choose an event app that offers both a web and mobile platform
When you hear the word ‘app’, you likely think mobile-only. While it is the case with most event apps, finding a solution that offers a cross-platform — meaning both web and mobile — is essential.
At Swapcard, we’ve seen that 78% of attendees download the event app the night before or the morning of the event. If the event app were mobile-only, this would leave attendees with no time to prepare. However, we’ve seen that 60% of attendees start their experience on our web platform.
Once your attendees access the web platform and invest time in building out their schedule and networking, they won’t want to do without the app. The next step for them will be to download the mobile app to have at the show.
Our numbers show that using a cross-platform increases an app’s usage rate by 35%
Once you’ve confirmed the event app in question offers a cross-platform, here are two key takeaways to consider for successful onboarding:
✓ The event app can create pre-populated attendee profiles that pull from the information provided during ticketing.
✓ The event app can send emails with a link that automatically connects participants to the platform.
See for yourself — here's a two-minute video of a smooth onboarding experience.
4) Make sure the app will be an integral part of your event
You want an irresistible event app! Once you’ve landed on a product with excellent networking capabilities and a cross-platform solution, it’s time to look at how to get your attendees hooked. It's easy to tick the boxes on an RFP checklist; a bigger challenge is boosting the adoption rate.
Be sure to download the app and test it yourself. Look at aspects like how intuitive it is and its visual appeal, not only from your back office perspective but from the perspective of the attendee as well.
Remember that an excellent user interface takes years of experience, which is why it's best to go with a provider that's devoted exclusively to event apps.
You want an event app you can be proud of, and don’t be shy about promoting it! For this, you’ll need to have a successful communication plan that includes:
✓ Messages that highlight the value of your app
✓ Designs and videos of your app for your emails, newsletter and social media
✓ A banner of what's new on your website home page
✓ Promoting your print flyers (that is, if you still print. But keep in in mind, too, that with an event app, you can rid yourself of this unnecessary cost by switching your strategy to a digital one.)
The team at Swapcard helps with a dedicated project manager who works with you on the communication of your event. We offer in-depth guides, personalized event designs and review best practices via one-on-one training. Support also comes in the form of 24/7 access to a customer service team, onsite support and post-event workshops to analyze your event stats.
Finally, who doesn’t love a good hack? Here are two fool-proof ways to make sure your attendees join your event app community.
At Viva Technology, a three-day conference with 80K attendees, we eliminated printed materials as much as possible and directed attendees online. We reduced the event program to one page, and there was no printed floor plan. Attendees could only access the program and floor plan through the app. By doing this, we increased the usage rate by 35%.
As well, at the FIC Cybersecurity Forum, we achieved an 87% usage rate by importing attendee badges into the platform from their ticketing solution. Attendees logged into the platform to download their badge and showed their QrCode to enter the show. Learn more by checking out their success story below.
5) Investigate solutions that will save you time
We’ve taken care of the top needs of your attendees; now let’s take care of you. We know that your priorities relate to time and finding more of it. An event app should help you with this.
First, see how an event app can avoid duplicating your efforts. Running an event requires many program updates that should reflect on your website and event app, but having to do this twice isn’t the best use of your time. One way to streamline the process is with widgets.
Widgets (or iFrames) display changes live on your website when you’ve updated data in the back office of your app. Take a look at these examples of Swapcard’s program and exhibitor widgets on an event website.
And how about your event program? Chances are, there are many details to consider. A generic solution isn’t going to work to keep everything organized. Event programs are often complicated, so here's a list of scenarios you’ll want to discuss with your event app provider before committing:
✓ Can it block attendees from registering to two sessions that take place at the same time?
✓ Can attendees see different aspects of the program, depending on their ticket?
✓ Can you define quotas on the number of people per session based on room capacity?
✓ Can you create private sessions that only a specific number of people can see and attend, like VIP lunches or one-on-one meetings?
✓ Can you upload abstracts and your speakers’ documents?
✓ Do attendees receive push notifications to rate a session?
Our Step Conference success story shows how this event effectively executed one-on-one mentorship sessions using the Swapcard event app.
Lastly, look at what you can integrate from your current event tech stack into the app; this would include ticketing solutions, digital maps and interactivity tools for audience engagement.
6) Opt for an event app that can create an additional revenue stream
Companies exhibit at events to network, do business, get visibility and build their brand. Rather than selling companies square metres, you’ll want to start selling services that will increase their ROI. Can your event app do that?
Help companies capture qualified leads and check that your event app provides:
✓ Inbound leads - attendees can schedule a meeting with exhibitors.
✓ Outbound leads - exhibitors can pay to schedule meetings with attendees.
✓ Lead capture - a leading-edge badge scanning feature that lets them save and contextualize their leads in the app.
These services will increase their ROI and satisfaction, which translates into re-booking and retention.
And how about exclusive digital visibility? Main sponsors should be more visible than others, so you’ll want to be able to promote them in areas of your event app where your attendees will be active. For this, you’ll want to ensure your event app can:
✓ Offer a splash screen and digital banners
✓ Send push notifications on behalf of sponsors
✓ Display sponsors at the top of your exhibitor list
✓ Add a grid of logos on the home page and your onboarding emails
You can sell these services in packages that include both digital services and booth volume, meaning that with the right event app, you could earn an extra profit!
Check out this article we wrote on how to generate digital revenues and auto-fund your next event app.
If you have any other questions about choosing an event app provider, don’t hesitate to sign up for one of our webinars to learn more about the Swapcard event app and if it’s the right solution for your event.