I write a lot about event mobile apps. I’ve written handbooks, comparisons, how-to articles and blog posts on various aspects of the subject since 2009. One of the most interesting facets of event mobile apps is the strategy behind using mobile to address event planner pain points and event objectives. Of course, a strategy is only as good as the applications, devices, and environments that can be used to execute it. When those change, the thinking around using event mobile apps changes with them.
When event mobile apps started to become a fixture at events, much of the value of mobile was attributed to the attendee: easy access to agendas and directories, better navigation, and enhanced productivity. There were benefits for event organizers as well, such as the reduced printing costs, ability to use apps to disseminate up-to-the-minute information, and sustainability. Today, the balance of utility is shifting in favor of the planner. The current generation of mobile apps has the ability to address other planner pain points:
- Data collection & analytics
- Multiple events
- Data security
- Social media
- Database integration
- Multi-lingual capabilities
- Offline support
Now, when planners think about mobile apps, they envision their use on Smartphones and tablets. That won’t always be the case. Eventually—perhaps within the next three to five years—wearables, such as Google Glass or smart watches, will have to be provided for within event mobile strategies. These form factors will inform what kind of content event organizers will be able to deliver, as well as what type of content attendees will be willing and able to consume. The practical aspects of battery life and data storage capabilities will also impact usability and effectiveness of mobile in event settings.
Many events occupy multiple settings: inside the venue, offsite (such as hotels or surrounding facilities), and remote (as in the case of virtual “attendees”). When planners accept the notion that the utility of the event mobile app is as malleable as the environments in which the event can be experienced, they will change their strategies to address how and what the app can be used for. In and around the convention center, for example, mobile apps are better at addressing logistical concerns: attendee tracking, check-in, traffic flow, communication, programming, and event execution. When the area expands to the virtual space, the app is suitable as a marketing and education tool as well.
As quickly as event mobile technology is moving now, impetuses are in place to accelerate the pace of change even further. While strategy normally comes before tactics—I’m not suggesting that the order change—it’s reasonable to say that by understanding what’s possible, planners can expand their thinking about what can be addressed by an event mobile strategy in the first place. It’s becoming obvious that a three to five year plan is simply wishful (and wasteful) thinking.
This post was written exclusively for Ungerboeck by Michelle Bruno, MPC, Bruno Group Signature Events