Evolving mobile platforms let your fingers do the planning

The event-specific app is methodically nudging the paper-filled binder into extinction, and providing planners with a tech tool that puts all the key details in one portable place.Tech-savvy attendees in particular are also catching on to the attributes of apps acutely designed to enhance the meeting experience by providing pertinent information with a tap of an icon, plus more socialization and networking opportunities. And events are also benefiting from increased marketing, advertising and sponsorship possibilities.

“Event apps are now widely accepted as the norm, not the exception,” says Patrick Payne, CEO of Vancouver, British Columbia-based QuickMobile, which invented the mobile event app in 2008 and has built more apps than any other provider. “Planners want all their conference information and interactive functionality in one app for their specific event. Today’s attendees are much more comfortable using event apps than ever before.”

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Groups using event apps can see ROI in sponsorship money and increased attendee involvement and excitement that helps build their brand in a mobile universe. Moreover, apps give attendees the ability to connect for more pre- and post-event engagement, which can enhance business opportunities and solidify relationships.

Adapting to AppsSince 2012, LeAnne Nienhuis, the education and customer programs manager at the American Public Power Association (APPA) in Washington, D.C., has used nine apps for the organization’s meetings.

“We still have a paper program, but the adoption rate for apps among our attendees increases with every meeting,” Nienhuis says. “Once they realize how much easier it is to access information as opposed to leafing through pages, they’re hooked.”

Nienhuis says a member built her association’s first event-specific app for free and it was an immediate hit.

“After that, we wanted an experienced company to build a more complex app,” she says.

They selected CrowdCompass, a Cvent subsidiary with more than 2,000 event apps published, and a client list that includes Disney, Nike, Ford and General Electric, as well as Meetings Focus. CrowdCompass’ product menu features interactive, customized apps for conferences, meetings, tradeshows, conventions, corporate events and educational purposes.

According to Nienhuis, the adoption rate for apps at the organization’s smallest conference of 300 is two-thirds of attendees, while at the largest conference of 1,500, which tends to attract older members, it’s about one-third of attendees.