North of 80% of events had some form of event app in 2016, and this is only set to rise in 2017. The main drive behind the use of event apps is significantly improved attendee engagement.
Event apps provide a simple, concise means of conveying important event information like maps, agendas and speaker bios. Events which use a mobile event app also save a significant sum on printing costs as well as being able to gather significantly better metrics.
For the majority of event planners, the question of whether an event app is a worthy investment is already settled. What comes next is what type of app do you choose.
Typically these fall into two major categories. The first type of event app uses a predeveloped base upon which all the details of your event can be superimposed. The second builds a unique app from scratch to your specifications.
Both forms of app have their merits, but there are some significant differences that should be considered before making a choice.
Event App Stability
Stability and performance are perhaps the biggest issues when it comes to choosing between these two types of event app. As anyone with a smartphone already knows, there are few things more frustrating than an app that lags or worse still, crashes unexpectedly.
Whichever type of app you choose, how it works (or doesn’t work) will reflect on your event. An unstable app is a frustrating, negative first impression for your event.
App stability is largely a question of testing and time. A purpose built, branded app will usually be ready for your event after a minimum of six weeks but generally longer. This means that all of the bugs will still be lying in wait for your attendees to discover.
A predeveloped app has the advantage of being used by many events before yours, meaning that bugs are less likely.
Event App Timeframe
Event planners are typically give around 4 weeks to turn around an event from scratch. It takes 6 weeks minimum to build an event app from scratch, and even that is a very fast turn around. Obvious problem there.
As a result, a custom built app will probably not suit events other than those which are developed over a much longer period of time.
Event App Total Cost of Ownership
Several weeks of manpower to develop an app is no small feat and custom event apps tend to have the price tag to match.
The app market is slowing down and it is getting harder and harder to get people to download them. 25% of installed apps are never used and of those that are, 25% are uninstalled after first use. This means that to convince people to download an app you need to make them believe it will be useful to them over time, which a branded app for a once off event simply can’t offer.
When looking at template vs custom apps, keep in mind the return on investment factor.
Consider what you want your app to provide, how long you want to provide it for and how much you can afford to pay for that.
Event App Scalability and Sustainability
The main compelling feature of custom apps is the fact that they can be tailored to meet the needs of a specific event. The flipside of this is that once you have chosen your features, adding new ones is difficult. With a predeveloped event app you have the advantage of continued improvement and expansion over time, as well as the resources to test those new features.
Creating a branded app that in all likelihood can’t or won’t be built upon is essentially designing the app to be deleted the minute your event is over. Its important to look at what your attendees actually want out of an event app and then consider what level of work needs to be done in the short term to meet that. Following that you need to examine what work needs to be given to making the event app attractive to customers in the long term.
Predeveloped and custom apps are superficially similar products but ultimately serve very different types of event. In making your choice, think carefully about how much money, time and energy you and your staff will be able to commit to the app during your event.