How Mobile Apps Drive Engagement at Conferences & Events

If it’s been a while since you’ve attended your last in-person event, here’s the thing: as excellent as physical goods are, an app specifically designed to cater for a large-scale event can do a lot to make that event far more enjoyable, and far easier to connect with the attendees.

The fact is nearly everyone carries a smartphone these days, and convincing people to download an app isn’t difficult, especially when you think of what they benefit from when they get that app downloaded. Conferences, after all, can be a lot to deal with – and not just because of the event itself!

Whether it’s a marathon, a gaming convention, or a B2B business event, having an app makes the events easy to navigate, enjoyable, and accessible to everyone attending it.

Do I really need a mobile app for my event?

It makes your life a lot easier, and the people who attend your event will find it better to navigate – especially if your event is a conference or a convention and you’re expecting a lot of visitors. 

But it’s not necessary. Conferences can and do still make use of physical navigational aids and tickets, and it’s not crucial to have a mobile app if you’re running an event – but it is better. 

How does having a mobile app help conferences?

Okay, so, imagine you’re heading to a convention – let’s use the San Diego Comic-Con as an example, which is one of the biggest conventions that hits the West Coast, and consistently sells out. 

All of those event attendees are coming to a place where they’re unfamiliar with the set-up and the location, even if they’ve attended San Diego Comic Con before. This leads to confusion when it comes to making their way around, the possibility of missing an event or a set that they really wanted to go to and, ultimately, creates a terrible experience overall for your audience. Things happen – and no amount of preparation for any event is going to change the fact that sometimes, what can go wrong will go wrong. 

A mobile app won’t stop things from going wrong. What it will do is create a situation where if the worst happens, your conference attendees will know about it, and will also know what’s being done to replace or change the circumstances. 

Say a talk got cancelled. Some of the hotels located outside of the conference centre could be located farther away, and having attendees show up for an event that doesn’t happen is going to lead to a negative impression on your event. 

The best way to mitigate that is through an app: a surefire way that will get any information you need to get across to the attendees as quickly as possible, with less of a failure rate. 

How does a mobile app help engagement?

There’s a few ways where an app can do things that physical conference materials just can’t. 

Attendee messaging

Managing an event is time-consuming and requires a lot of forward planning. Even then, if something goes wrong, it’s the conference that’s going to take the brunt of the bad reputation – but that’s where mobile apps can help. If you create a mobile app and include a live chat section, you can make life easier for your attendees by giving them options on how – and when – they can follow up on leads that interest them. 

Highlight event sponsors

All events have a sponsor, and the best way to get them to sponsor your event again is making sure those sponsors are right at the forefront of your audiences’ minds. Additionally, this helps you as an event planner: if the word gets out that you’re great for sponsorships, then it’ll be a lot simpler for you to network with other potential sponsors. 

A mobile app isn’t just having your sponsors set up a booth: it’s banner ads, push notification, and sponsored posts. An event app can make sure that your sponsor is even at top-of-mind for attendees who are fully remote, and therefore increase the potential audience your sponsor can benefit from – which, in turn, makes you more attractive for repeat work from your sponsors. 

Allow people to attend remotely

A big problem with conferences is overcrowding, especially for events like what we’ve mentioned above that attract a high number of attendees even with limitations placed on the event itself – however, there’s a way around this, and it could actually increase the number of people who can attend your event. Having a live-streaming segment within your mobile app can widen your event’s reach while allowing you to still keep to the limitations of your conference hall, and it allows a much wider audience for attendees to network with . 

Personalize the experience

Most attendees will already know what events interest them and which talks they’re going to attend, but it doesn’t mean that they know the full extent of what’s going on around the conference hall. A mobile app makes it easy for them to pick and choose based on the full program, and to always be in the right place and at the right time to attend those events. They don’t need to pay attention to any topics they’re not interested in, and they can make the most of their time, helping with your overcrowding issue in addition. 

Gamify attendance

No one is immune to the thrill of a little game – and gamification works really well to drive engagement. Gamifying the event experience, such as increasing the ability to collect points or ranks and participate in audience-wide challenges, will increase your audience’s interest in the event, and you can always go further with what aspects you gamify and have a prize at the end of it. The whole point of this is validating your attendees’ choices, and when people feel validated, they’re inclined to remember it – and book again for another event. 

Will a mobile app solve all my event problems?

A mobile app is a useful tool to have, and it’s not going to hurt your event – far from it! Besides increasing engagement and making it easier to collect feedback from attendees, a mobile app also gives you an insight into any issues that cropped up during the conference – but it won’t necessarily solve all your problems, at least not without anticipating what those problems could be. 

If you’re in the market for an event app, or you have an event coming up and you’re thinking of going digital, drop us a message, and we’ll be happy to help you see if a mobile app is a good idea for you and your event.