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Rob Cartaigne

The rise of interactive features in mobile event apps

Rob CartaigneInteractive features are playing an ever-greater role in mobile event apps and changing the dynamic in which attendees engage with content at meetings, conferences and trade shows. While content such as event agendas and speaker bios reflect ever-greater elements of event apps, the rise of engaging features such as interactive exhibitor maps and live polling gives event planners new tools to drive attendees to a mobile app and enjoy a better event experience in the process.

INTERACTIVE MAPS The need to navigate floor plans at events ranges from keeping attendees organized inside large exhibit halls to displaying floor plans of meeting spaces in hotels and conference facilities. While basic mobile apps might display a static version of a map in PDF format, interactive maps enable attendees to engage with each booth or room to quickly ascertain details such as company names, bios, or schedules and even bookmark or mark spaces as visited into customized lists for future reference.

Bookmarked and visited booths are typically color-coded and are displayed alongside other colored booths designating featured exhibitors to create a colorful, interactive map able to evolve and reflect each attendee’s unique experience. PDF maps, on the other hand, might include the ability to zoom in and out, yet fail to provide real engagement for attendees or point to other content in the app for a seamless experience. Interactive maps thus give real value a static PDF or printed map simply cannot provide and is quickly becoming a must-have for medium to large-sized events.

LIVE POLLING Session and speaker surveys are great for collecting attendee feedback for demographic information and improving upon future events. Those answering questions in a mobile app, however, are unable to see real-time results and are less incentivized to partake without added motivation. A smaller level of engagement may suit some event planners wanting to collect data for internal use, yet the lack of real-time engagement hurts those aiming to interact with attendees during a session.

Consider an alternative scenario where attendees are prompted to answer a question or provide feedback during a keynote speech, demonstration, or other important session at an event where engagement is essential to making a lasting impression and ensuring information retention. Attendees enter results in their mobile app and are able to immediately see the results of their colleagues as the moderator or speaker uses the information to enhance the session. The interaction is also exclusive to those with a mobile app and only serves to enhance download numbers as those without an app don’t want to be left without the ability to interact with others and see valuable results.  

ENGAGING SPONSOR FEATURES Sponsor banner ads and splash screens are mobile app mainstays, yet the ability to include features such as opening videos and takeover ads create added flexibility and interactive options for sponsors. So too are push notifications with deep linking to send users directly to a PDF brochure, exhibitor detail page, video, or other area in the app related to the company or organization paying for the message. The push alert may be scheduled in advance to coincide with a booth’s important demonstration or giveaway to provide the most value to both sponsors and attendees. Adding a static banner ad to an event app and hoping attendees interact with branding on their own time is no longer the norm with better and interactive options available to event planners.

USER SIGN-IN Limiting all or certain app content to attendees creates a sense of exclusivity and greatly benefits companies and organizations wanting to show the added value of an event. A user authentication or sign-in feature enables event hosts to require attendees to register upon accessing the app or specific sections therein. Roles can be assigned to different groups of users to create attendee tiers based on their membership package, registration fee, or other criteria. Unlock valuable PDF abstracts to a certain subset of attendees or make attendee contact directories only available to exhibitors and sponsors. The possibilities to dictate content access are endless and help to make the mobile event app a multi-layered tool with basic content available to everyone, event-specific content available only to attendees, and then enhanced or limited content available to a smaller portion of users.

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Rob Cartagine is the co-founder and lead software developer of AppBurst, a mobile application development and Internet marketing company headquartered in Florida's Palm Beach County.


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