One of the most popular tactics used by B2B content marketers is in-person events, which is why I have been excited to see that 2010 has been ‘The Year of the Meeting App.’ What started as a trickle has ended with a deluge of apps from the simple to the sophisticated – all designed to enhance the meeting experience–for both planner and attendees.
As the pace of smartphone adoption increases, meeting and event professionals and content marketers will be challenged to keep up with demand, and more importantly, innovate using this young platform.
The benefits of mobile apps are compelling. Compared to paper-based versions of event programs, they’re more portable, interactive and can display multimedia content (and obviously, they’re more ‘green’). And planners and marketers are just beginning to leverage the networking aspect of apps to increase engagement and provide attendees with a convenient channel through which they can communicate.
How content marketers can use meeting apps
There are a lot of ways for content marketers to use apps for planning and to enhance the attendee experience.
- Provide enhanced sponsorship opportunities, generating additional revenues
- Solicit input on program design or development
- Facilitate dialog among attendees based on mutual interests
- Promote interactivity with speakers or other subject matter experts
- Generate qualified leads for exhibitors based on attendee needs
- Offer real-time access to program changes, presentations, speaker bios, conference-based news or information
- Share interactive maps of hotels, convention centers, exhibit floors or local points of interest for experiential events or after-hour gatherings as well as the ability to locate or track friends and colleagues
- Create location-based games that facilitate engagement and interactivity among attendees
- Conduct audience polling, session evaluations, user-generated announcements or other content
- Share archived sessions, handouts, etc.
- Increase ROI through reinforcement of key learnings and support for attendee action plans
- Update interested parties on follow-up initiatives and announcements regarding upcoming events
- Encourage ongoing dialog among attendees, laying the groundwork for subsequent meetings
Where to find event apps
Perhaps the best place to find meeting-related apps is www.meetingapps.com, a joint venture of event planning network Invenia Incentives and exhibition producer IMEX. This comprehensive portal has over 500 app titles divided among more than two dozen categories, including meeting management, travel, social media and conferences.
If you want to develop your own app for an event, the cost generally runs between $1,000 to $5,000 or more depending on functionality. QuickMobile, Core-Apps, E-proDirect and EventLink are some developers who are distinguishing themselves in the industry but the field is becoming more crowded every day and with that will come pricing pressure. Organizers and marketers are encouraged to do their homework and talk to their peers.
Apps for event planners
So what’s on the smartphones of some of our favorite meeting and event planners?
|Super Planner is a business app for the professional event planner. It provides a variety of planning tools, including calculators for venue capacity, staffing, catering, staging, projection and dance floor, as well as useful tips in several areas. Features include capacity calculator, food and beverage, staffing and audiovisual.|
|ootoWeb enables planners to access information from the ootoWeb Meeting Management Suite while on the go, accessing reports on meeting specification, attendee list, activity pickup, sleeping room pickup and more.|
|Posted enables you to track your delivery parcels from many shipping and courier companies. Add in your tracking number and Posted displays all relevant details about your parcel. Currently supports over 50 delivery providers. Enable Push Notifications and get alerted when the status of your package changes and more.|
|When you need a photo of the ballroom or reception space you’re checking out but the view is wider than what your iPhone camera will capture, Auto Stitch can merge up to 20 overlapping pictures to create the effect of a wide-angle camera.|
|When planning events, there is so much to remember. To manage all the information coming your way, you’ll need some tools to help organize your thoughts. Evernote turns your smartphone into an extension of your brain and helps you remember everything from notes to ideas to snapshots to recordings.|
|If your thumb-typing skills aren’t up to par, Dragon Dictation creates voice-to-text transcriptions that can be sent via e-mail or text message, or pasted into any iPhone app. Some say it’s up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard. A great way to save time if you need to summarize notes from a production meeting.|
Apps to enhance attendee experience
As an attendee, here are some of my favorite apps to check out.
|ShowGuide is designed to provide conference attendees a convenient tool to navigate conferences without having to carry bulky printed guides. With ShowGuide, attendees can view all of the courses/sessions, exhibitors, venue maps and general information available for partnered events. You can set up favorites to streamline your event experience. ShowGuide will allow attendees to download and store multiple events to their device for use offline.|
|In the U.S., one of the most popular event locations is Las Vegas. If you’re visiting this area, check out MGM MIRAGE’s official Vegas Reality augmented reality (AR) app. Point your smartphone camera anywhere at the Vegas Strip and it provides interactive information about resorts, casinos and other points of interest. You can also book show and restaurant reservations and receive exclusive offers via Twitter.|
|Should you bump into someone new, you can always Bump smartphones, which allows you to share photos and contacts, compare friends, or become Facebook friends. No poking required.|
For the second generation of meeting apps, here’s what I’d like to see more of:
- Personalization of content based on interests and the ability to customize apps to meet individual needs
- Leverage the mobile platform for more learning, both formal and informal
- Better integration across mobile platforms (Android, Apple, Blackberry, etc.)
- Better integration across social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare or Gowalla, etc.)
What other apps do you think are good for event planners and attendees?