The App trap- event support apps

Having an ‘app’ for event support is rapidly being seen as the norm but the key word in this sentence is ‘support’. The App trap is an easy one to fall into and at worst is simply a scaled down version of the conference website.

Apps can be expensive, they can also be relatively inexpensive. As with creating a conference or event, the place to start is by setting out the purpose and objectives that you want the app to deliver. If for example you simply want to be seen to be offering a conference related app, that’s fine but don’t pay more than a few hundred pounds for what will be a basic information download. If you want the app to be a key component of the event to send and receive information to delegates you’ll need extensive functionality, build time and testing and a healthy budget in four or five figures.

Type of platform

You’ll need to decide what platforms to service iOS and Android is a must, Blackberry and Windows a consideration. And whether you need to provide a web based or offline solution.

The key consideration is the needs of your delegates and of all the possible functionalities available which will deliver most value to your audience? An app can also deliver vital intelligence back to the organiser but this will rely on your audience being willing to proactively use the app and see it as a vital component of the conference.

Somewhere between the two extremes of a basic info only app and a sophisticated multi-functional bespoke solution is a hybrid that serves up key information onto the users smartphone or tablet, encourages networking between the conference delegates and enables one to one meet ups, sends push notification messages to delegates to advise on timing changes, alerts for key activities and reminders of special offers, and gathers feedback and evaluation on behalf of the organisers.

Marketing the app effectively is essential. Allowing delegates time to familiarise themselves with the app’s features and benefits will help towards fully maximise the return on investment.

Campaigns can be developed for pre event activity including registration and speaker updates, at the event use for audience engagement and post event activity including the vital evaluation survey.

We’d suggest releasing the app to delegates at least 1 month before the event. Send regular pre-event content to encourage use and talk to your supplier about creating a branded video tutorial to host on the conference website explaining to delegates how the app supports them in meeting their objectives for attending the event.

And finally there is augmented reality (AR) the natural successor to QR codes. With an augmented reality app, you can bring a static print ad to life, or watch a movie trailer by pointing your smartphone camera at a poster, or discover nearby establishments and landmarks with your mobile device.


We are grateful to our friends at Green Gorilla Apps Ltd for their critique and input to this blog.

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