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by Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, Event Strategist, Ignite Event Solutions

The Mobile App Prodigy: Innovation Continues To Thrive

The evolution of mobile application technology continues to accelerate with tremendous momentum in the market space. During a recent DFW IAEE Chapter meeting Stephen Nold, Co-Founder and President of TeccSociety, moderated a panel including three industry experts uncovering current trends, strategies and pitfalls with deploying mobile apps today.  The three panelists were Scott Craighead, Vice President, Exhibitions and Events, IAEE, Alicia Navarro, Meeting Coordinator, American Library Association, and Layton Rasco, Chief Operating Officer, Attendee Management, Inc.

Mobile applications for meetings and events are proven to escalate the user experience, improve operating efficiencies and provide strategic reporting data to vastly improve event success.    

 

Success Starts with a Solid Foundation

The consensus from the group was unanimous when describing the fundamental keys to success which includes outlining the goals and objectives of the mobile experience, developing a concise scoping document, and researching suitable mobile app vendors that are reputable and proven in the industry. In addition, it is as equally important to understand audience engagement and behavior based on historical knowledge and usage.  For example, if an organization has never deployed a mobile app within a conference, setting goals with realistic adoption rates and providing an onsite help desk team would be a recommended strategy. 

Layton Rasco with Attendee Management Inc., discussed a recent technology user conference his organization managed which relied purely on mobile app usage and digital signage to deliver session and location information. “The user conference was in a mature stage of mobile application deployment with a near 100% historical adoption rate. The organizational strategy included using the mobile app exclusively to allow the client to monitor and adjust session locations based on audience preferences. With over 200 breakouts, the attendee demand for certain speakers fluctuated throughout the conference, which triggered show organizers to change breakout schedules and room assignments sporadically throughout the day. Since there was no printed agenda material and the group solely relied on the mobile application for all conference details, we were able to manage this real-time. However, although this was convenient for the client and attendee, the pressure was on the logistical staff to quality control the meeting rooms for correct speaker presentations and staging requirements based on specific requirements. The show organizer leveraged CVENT’s solution portfolio including Crowd Compass for the mobile app and Alliance Tech for session scanning, which were integrated with CVENT’s registration tool. These tools worked seamlessly together and delivered real-time reporting to the client. There is no way this could have been achieved without reliable 2-way integration between the 3 platforms. The staff was able to make changes in the main registration system and have the new information instantly updated in the mobile app and session tracking system. As the lead planner put it, ‘Sure, there was some chaos behind the scenes, but the attendees never noticed.’”

 

Smart Car or Rolls Royce?  Acquiring the Right Technology

There are so many mobile applications on the market today with more “bells and whistles” than what most organizations would ever need or desire.  However, every organization is different and requiring unique functionalities in order to support their goals and objectives. Alicia Navarro with the American Library Association, mentioned her mobile application needed to be compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).  With many of her attendees, including a board member that suffers from visual impairment, offering a solution that would work with them was imperative.  In addition, ALA manages approximately 600 rooms simultaneously while onsite at the event that draws over 20,000 attendees.  By using a beta version of the eventScribe App from CadmiumCD, Navarro was able to easily access meeting planning tools to pull up the room logistics, showing what was needed to be in each room throughout the six-day event.  Contact details for speakers, team members and other staff support was also entered into the system, so that it was trivial to contact the appropriate people as needed by text, email or phone as needed.  “ALA has complicated requirements with over 2,000 presentations and 1,200 speakers and finding the right tools to manage and deploy that information to all the different stakeholders is imperative to the conference success.  With 20,000 people literally spread across the city, having the technology to communicate with them where they need to go in order to participate in the different sessions is critical,” stated Navarro.

 

Take a Risk

Most show organizers are reluctant to take a risk when the opportunity could impact their attendees’ experience.  Rightfully so. However, mobile app technology will continue to deliver innovation based on the vision and objectives of organizations, and the mobile app company’s ability to connect the vision with applicable solutions.  Scott Craighead with IAEE, mentioned the usage of mobile apps delivering real-time engagement with polling capabilities between audience and speakers is unprecedented, and breaks the traditional model of one-way communication.  This engagement could manipulate a speaker’s presentation based on taking a real-time audience poll asking the audience to select from an array of possibly topics.

Mobile applications will continue to be the technology of choice for event planners as meeting-goers become more comfortable with allowing events to engage their personal devices.