With over 300 (and counting) off the shelf event apps, the market is in danger of becoming saturated. Choosing the right technology for your audience is vital, but do your attendees actually always care for our choices, are we doing enough to really drive adoption and most importantly does technology always enrich the user experience?
From regularly attending events as delegates we believe the answer to all of these questions is a resounding no.
Organisers often expect far too much from their audience. Events agencies are packed full of energy, enthusiasm and staff who have grown up in a digital world with their phone and tablet never more than a stretch away. That’s not the same for all audiences and we shouldn’t make the assumption that an event app is understood or even desired by them.
The responsibility here lies with the event planner and not the technology provider. Of course, choosing the right partner (and it should be a partnership) is important, but understanding how, why and when you are going to communicate your digital intentions – and vitally, the value it will add to their experience – is fundamental. The key here is to first understand your audience. What will your attendees want most; information, engaging content, enhanced networking or social media connectivity?
In a world of instant contact, when answers to our questions are only a Siri away, expectations about clarity and purpose are higher than ever. In modern society if we don’t get it or can’t Google it then we tend not to persevere. The same principle applies to an event app. Just because there is an app that does not mean that attendees are motivated towards using it, never mind maximising its potential. It’s naive to expect users to embrace the latest technology, no matter how impressive, if you have not attempted an emotional connection first. If we compare event apps to consumer apps, they have a much clearer communication strategy on the relevance and reward of using their app and almost always have a more instinctive user experience design.
If you are dedicating the time, budget and resources into developing an event app then you will need to dedicate as much time in formulating and executing an integrated communication plan that will engage the audience early and create a relationship with the user that they value. Consider a few key questions:
1. Why would the audience benefit from using an app?
2. What functionality will they benefit from most?
3. How will you communicate the purpose and value?
4. Is it simple to find, download and install?
5. Do you have a clear integrated communications strategy to complement the technology?
6. How do you plan to generate meaningful interactions and reward the behaviours that enrich the user and event experience?
7. What do you plan to do with the data and the app post-event to increase the ROI?
As for the live event itself the same rules apply. Clearly communicate your intentions, make it simple to activate for those that have not already done so and drive the majority – if not all – of the communications through the same channel. In our opinion, technology works best when using a facilitator who is comfortable and competent with it. Set out on the right foot, allow people to get comfortable with what may be a totally new experience and let them enjoy it, using the facilitator to sense check collective understanding and signpost the need for using the app.
In summary if you are considering using new technology, event apps or otherwise, evaluate the impact before proceeding and integrate into the overall event strategy. Clearly communicate to all the stakeholders and speakers early so they too maximise its potential and in turn increase the ROI/ROO. Don’t make your next event app a very expensive way to print your agenda.