Appstract: Three Technologies Changing the Future of Meetings & Mobile Event Apps
When it comes to mobile, the next big thing is released practically on a daily basis and these technology trends can have a significant impact on the meeting and events industry. Discover how iBeacons, Augmented Reality and Mesh Networking changes the game for mobile event apps and the way people connect at meetings in the near future.
Non-technical overviews of the complexity and maturity of these three technologies
How ready they are for the meetings and events industry
Advice and things to watch out for when first using these technologies
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How is QuickMobile Different From Other Event App Companies?
Tahira Endean explains what makes QuickMobile different from other companies in the industry.
This, of course, is a question that is often asked by clients, and to be fair you could insert any service or product into “mobile app” and you should be able to answer this question. Certainly as a meeting planner I have had to answer this from the perspective of being a planner at a PCO and an event producer at both an incentive agency and a DMC to our potential clients, and there is never an easy answer – either from an established company in a slightly more mature industry or from a mobile event app company, the newest must-have technology in an ever changing landscape of meeting design.
I have thought about this a lot, as I left my role as a creative director in an event management organization to be the events manager at QuickMobile. Why this shift?
For me it was recognizing that as we have shifted from meetings and events planned on paper and via fax (a mere 15-20 years ago) to one that is, outside of the early adopters, working hard to keep up with the technology available to enhance learning and connections. I wanted to focus on an area that I believe will become the biggest shift we have seen in our industry and be part of that change.
Why QuickMobile? Since 2010 (although the company started before this), I have worked with and watched QuickMobile grow and become a leader in this space, embedded in understanding the needs of meeting planners and developing a group of products and services within the mobile app space that meet and are thinking of the next needs of planners, participants, exhibitors, sponsors, and the year-round life cycles of meeting communities/associations. It was a fortunate happenstance they are based where I lived, but with a reach that is without boundaries, I was more familiar with them from seeing them at IMEX, PCMA, MPI, GMIC and other shows, both virtually and live. I knew I needed to work somewhere that put our industry first.
How are we different? I have a few highlights (the whole list would be more than a blog!).
First, the Content Management System (CMS) is really easy to use. As a planner I don’t have to change the way I plan significantly to import the information that eventually becomes participant facing. It is so simple that I can do it myself, but if I didn’t have the time to learn or the resources to manage this, the QuickMobile team can support all the importing and updates. One CMS means multi-platform functionality as well – while it is really easy to use for the planning team, the back-end programming is what makes it awesome.
Second, the app looks great and is easy to use. “So what?” you say, lots of apps look great. I would beg to differ. Since I go to many events and see a lot of other apps, and while many are good, every event I have been to with a QM app looks, well, GREAT. Branded to the event, rich in texture and images, and with easy functionality that comes from thinking through HOW people will use it and building elements that answer the WHY of the event. WHY will they attend – and what do they want to get out of it?
We then build in the right pieces on a flexible platform so you can highlight learning, surveys and polls. It emphasizes connections with social applications and networking through meeting/appointment functions, and gamification that brings participants together collaboratively or competitively and drives them to meet exhibitors and sponsors and learn more about them, beginning those all important relationships we seek to find at meetings and events. And of course, it has the information guests need to be successful – whether this is related to attire at the next function or documents from the speakers.
Third, if you went to IMEX Frankfurt and experienced advanced push messaging that let you know where to find the next awesome activity or used the ability to change your appointments on the fly…you will know we are thinking of YOU and your “best-ever” experience. Apps like this are also reaching an average of 75%-85% adoption as they are used by live and virtual attendees, and on multiple per person devices – think of the ROI for your (app) sponsors and your exhibitors as their reach lives well beyond the confines of the event or the booth.
Fourth, it’s the 24/7 support offered – because your events don’t have an end time once they have started.
Then there is MobilePlanner, the enterprise-grade event planning app. Imagine never having to take a binder on site again because every single thing you need – every phone number, every contract, every schedule (VIP, load in/out, transportation) is now on your tablet or phone, and key information such as arrivals is being updated on an ongoing basis. This will, quite simply, rock your world.
These are a few of the things I know are great about having QuickMobile as your meeting and event partner. Connect with us to find out more!
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Utilizing Twitter to Collect Valuable Data from Your Attendees
This post concentrates on the role that social media can play in truly understanding your attendees and event communities.
It is becoming widely accepted that attendees are beginning to expect to use an event app. This may simply be used as a replacement to the general paper collateral or it may be heavily integrated into the program, providing a truly engaging tool. The reality is, many events are simply using this tool because it is expected of them and not looking at the true value that can be gathered from analyzing attendee behavior. There have been a number of publications discussing the potential benefits of studying behavior that are widely available and an essential read. This post concentrates on the role that social media can play in truly understanding your attendees and event communities.
How does Twitter fit into this trend?
Using Twitter as an example, we are able to easily explain and provide some context around a few buzzwords and phrases:
- Social Media Integration
- Crowd Sourced Events
- Data and Visualized Analytics
Social Media Integration
Simply put, this can be defined as actively encouraging the use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more.
Most event apps have a social media module available where, using a predefined hashtag, attendees are presented with a familiar timeline feed. An event app is of course not a necessary requirement for utilizing social media, so many companies are providing tweet walls to project and display the timeline.
There are tools available that allow for the semi-automated categorization of tweets. This provides the ability to display a leaderboard showing the top trending topics, the most active tweeters and the most influential followers, which in turn can introduce a level of gamification (that’s a whole new post) into the event. We can even group positive and negative remarks to capture the overall sentiment.
The more integrated the social media experience becomes in the event, the quicker it moves from being a bit of fun to a truly engaging and rewarding experience. Capturing and utilizing the conversations and questions before, during and after the event allow you to extend the complete event lifecycle and ultimately tap into public conversations.
This seamlessly links into the next set of buzzwords;
Crowd Sourced Events and Social Listening
Everyone wants a voice or wants to believe that their perspective is relevant. By at least partially committing to Crowd Sourced Events, planners should be listening to the communities surrounding specific events to understand what people are discussing, allowing you to select key topics that either need further explanation or are of interest to your attendees.
By incorporating Social Listening Tools, event planners are able to capture questions and concerns that people already have and then get a feel for the satisfaction of attendees during and post event, all without asking a direct question.
In most cases a complete redesign of an event is simply out of the question, but tweaking topics to directly answer questions and concerns, even a small amount, is a benefit to everyone.
Data and Visualized Analytics
The art of taking data and turning it into tangible, easy-to-understand information by presenting it as an image, chart or infographic.
The previous topics covered here can all be captured and displayed in a way that gives a clear understanding of the networks, influence and global reach that event attendees have. This data also allows for an unprecedented level of insight into the overall behavior of target audiences, which can and should be used to create more engaging events.
This guest post originally appeared on Central Hall Westminster website.
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Using Event App Analytics to Improve Next Year’s Event
Here's how you can use data from your event app analytics to make your next conference your best one yet.
According to Deloitte’s Analytics Trends 2014 report, more “companies are now able to gather data from their operations, analyze it and make it all available to customers.” We live in a data-driven world where technology, like mobile event apps, helps us get measurable insight into all aspects of our organizations. Mobile apps can be especially powerful in aiding event planners to improve their events in real-time.
The insights your app provides you can also be used to gather intelligence that will help improve next year’s event. Your app’s analytics platform not only gives you data on the effectiveness and ROI of your mobile app, but also on how different parts of your event and strategy did as well. Below are a few examples of how you can use event app analytics to make your next conference your best one yet.
Improve App Adoption
One of your key measures of mobile success should be how many attendees adopted your event app and how often did they use it. With analytics, you can see how many app downloads you received before and during your event. This information can help you determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategies so you know which ones to focus on next year.
Event app analytics give you measurable insight into how attendees participated in the various sessions and activities at your event. For example, you can see how many attendees viewed session details in the app and then, check whether or not this data matches actual session attendance numbers. This can help you determine if the way a session description is written or a speaker’s profile influences actual attendance.
Other things you can use your app to measure: how many questions were submitted in the Session Q&A feature, how well attendees responded to surveys and polls, how many people participated in the social elements, like Twitter, photo galleries, and discussion boards, and how much content your audience generated during your event.
The Mobile Experience
Determine the overall ROI of your event app through the very data it gathers for you! Not only will analytics tell you how many downloads the app got, but they will also show how much time was spent in the app and which features attendees used the most (i.e. found the most useful). You can also find out which mobile platforms were most active so you know which ones to offer the app on next year. Make sure to refer back to your event app strategy during this process so you can consult the metrics for success that you set up prior to your event.
Impact of Your Incentives
The best event apps give you more ways to create incentives that encourage attendees to participate – knowing your impact will guide your decisions for future events. For example, if you offered an event app game, you can see how many attendees played it and how much time they spent playing it. A low participation rate may mean you missed one of these essential game design elements and you can use this information to create a better game next year.
If you’d like more tips on event app analytics, check out this free Top 10 Insights Revealed by Event App Analytics!
How do you use analytics and data to improve your events? Let us know via Twitter.
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How Mobile Apps Impact the Meeting Experience
Dive into how a mobile app specific to your meeting supports your meeting aims.
According to the MPI Foundation Canada’s Canadian Economic Impact Study 2.0 (2012 Base year), a meeting is defined as lasting four hours or more, with a minimum of 10 participants, where there is a payment for the use of a contracted venue for meetings in Canada. The study considers meetings to be: conventions, conferences, congresses, business exhibitions, incentive events, and corporate business meetings (the study excludes consumer, recreational/entertainment, political, school and social functions). Its definition also includes:
Meeting Aims: To motivate participants, to conduct business, to share ideas, to learn, to socialize and to hold discussions.
This too is the focus of QuickMobile – to support the above through the use of a mobile app specific to your meeting. Why does this matter? We now live in a time where mobile devices and their apps are ubiquitous to our lives – for tracking expenses and health, paying for parking, travel booking and management, games to relax with, music, movies, books, news, weather and more. Most of us remember a time before mobile devices, some of us even remember planning meetings before we had email or on-line registration, but none of us would choose to return to manually delivering every piece of information pre, during and post-event. So we must also learn to embrace mobile.
To do this to its full extent, we must choose a vendor partner that understands the attendee journey, and provides tools that will be with the meeting for its entirety, providing information and connections from pre-arrival, through to the post-conference dissemination of information via documents, photos and videos, and the maintenance of person-to-person connections.
How does a mobile app do all this?
It is by first having a flexible platform upon which to add in the components that matter to your particular meeting. There is no one size fits all solution – you know each time you plan a meeting, that each has its own differentiators. We know and understand this, which is why we allow you to choose what you need from a wide range of components within our mobile app platform.
We also know you are going to have a variety of vendor partners and you need them to be able to “talk to each other” both literally and figuratively – your registration information has to be exportable in a seamless fashion into the app, so your participants can find each other to begin the relationships that will allow business to be conducted.
To share ideas, your social media feeds (internal such as Chatter, Yammer or Jive and external such as Twitter and LinkedIn) need to be easy adds as well.
Holding discussions is one of the key reasons to meet face-to-face, and for this you need to find the right people to meet with. In-app scheduling and key information for on-site, such as maps and trade show floor plans, need to be easy to use and help you in moving participants through an event – the app needs to support the experience, and make it easy for connections to be made as it is these connections that will drive business opportunities. We have built-in integrations with nearly every major technology partner working in these spaces, making it easy for you.
To motivate participants you can consider adding a social gaming or gamification element, where participants are (virtually) rewarded for good behavior at events – this can include social interactions and check-in, sharing in-app messages, taking and sharing notes, contributing to polls and surveys, social media sharing, adding to photo galleries, attending sessions and more. All of these build on their learning in context, and will also open discussions that may not have happened without in-app interaction as the serendipity of connections become amplified in a way not possible previously.
To learn is complex, and requires a combination of openness to learning, an environment which allows for information to come in, be made relevant, and for time to discuss and reflect on learning. Speakers and facilitators are part of this equation, and with an app you now have an immediate tool to see and hear what people are responding to, what is resonating (and what is not) and even, as we did recently at PCMA EduCon 2014, what should be repeated as it is of interest to so many.
In short, a mobile app is rapidly becoming an expected component of a meeting experience, and with QuickMobile’s platform and the collective experience of the thousands of events we have supported it is one element that when done well, will shift how your meeting is both experienced and perceived, and has the ability to drive business conversations that will make a difference to your own industry and organization.
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Event App Analytics Help Improve your Event in Real-Time
By utilizing the analytics tool of your mobile event app, you gain amazing insights into how your event is doing and what your attendees think of it in real-time.
One of the great things about mobile event apps is that they offer a window into your attendees’ minds. How many times have you wished that you knew what your attendees thought of your event? Which session they enjoyed the most? How they’re networking?
In the past, you might have hired a market research company to capture this data and analyze it all for you, but there was no way for you to get this event intelligence while your conference was still happening. It’s all valuable information that could help next year’s event, but can’t help your provide a better experience to your attendees while they’re still at this year’s conference.
This is why mobile and audience response technology are so powerful. By utilizing the analytics tool of your mobile event app, you gain amazing insights into how your event is doing and what your attendees think of it in real-time. This gives you the unique opportunity to make onsite adjustments to your event that can positively impact your attendee’s experience. Here are a few suggestions:
Amount of Networking
Event app analytics help you assess how much networking is being done at your event. This tool shows you how many attendees are exchanging contact information, connecting with like-minded people, or scheduling meetings using the app. This can help you figure out the kind of networking that’s being done at your conference. If it looks like there are a lot of scheduled meetings, you can help facilitate these face-to-face interactions by setting up an impromptu space with plenty of tables and chairs, and snacks and drinks nearby.
Make Learning Flexible
Use analytics to find out which sessions are being added to the most personal itineraries and then, cross-reference these with the session surveys attendees are using the event app to fill out. Choose a few standout sessions that would be worthy of an encore slot, update the in-app schedule with these new sessions, and send all your attendees a push notification to let them know they have a second chance to catch that much-talked about presentation.
Pay Attention to Surveys and Polls
Mix up your event content with surveys and polls designed to get feedback from attendees that you can immediately action on. Getting complaints that there aren’t enough water stations? Have water bottles available in every presentation room. Someone say that the first keynote had lousy sound? Now you know to do a thorough sound check before the next one. If you can show that you’re listening to your attendees’ feedback, they will have a better experience at your event and will likely come back for next year’s!
If you’d like more tips on event app analytics, check out this free Top 10 Insights Revealed by Event App Analytics!
What aspects of your event do you wish you could get more data on? Let us know via Twitter.
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3 Awesome Ways Your Event App’s CMS Makes Your Job Easier
Did you know that an event app doesn't just enhance your conference experience, but that it can also make planning your event a whole lot easier? You just have to know how to harness the awesome power of your app's content management system (CMS).
Did you know that an event app doesn’t just enhance your conference experience, but that it can also make planning your event a whole lot easier? You just have to know how to harness the awesome power of your app’s content management system (CMS). Here are a three things you can do with a CMS, like our QuickMobile Platform, to make this year’s event the best ever.
Learn More About Your Attendees As They Learn More About the Event
There are different ways that the app can be used to provide you with valuable intel on your audience. Attendees are curious creatures with strange habits and mysterious customs, and since it’s your responsibility to help wrangle them, it helps to be armed with all the information you can access.
If you’re feeling direct, one of the best ways to get more information from your attendees is to simply ask them. Use your CMS to create Surveys, Polls or Session Feedback Forms – no need for separate audience response technology or those awkward paper handouts. Each audience response system can be a mixture of multiple choice, multiple selection (i.e., choose all that apply), and open text entry, so it’s easy to compose questions that capture any preference or suggestion attendees may have.
With a CMS, like our QuickMobile Platform, the instantaneous survey results are available online and can be displayed in graphs so you can even present them to the audience. And the beauty of it all is you don’t have to transfer pesky Session Feedback into a database for post event debriefs and sales follow up. It is all being automatically saved for you in the platform so you don’t have to deal with data entry later.
When you’re feeling a little less forward, you can use your CMS’s analytics function. Analytics isn’t something you add to the app—it’s built into the platform, and is never visible to the attendees. Analytics tracks all the activity in the app and makes this data available at your fingertips. Learn when and how the app’s features are being used, either by all attendees or at an individual attendee level.
All this information is also neatly and attractively presented in easy to read tables and charts. Use this information to determine how many users are using the app, what components are most popular, who the event influencers are, what the success rate of your advertising is, and more. All these facts and figures will help prove the return on event and better prepare you for next year.
Make Last Minute Changes a No-Sweat Process
With printed program guides, not only are they often outdated by the time of the event, but you also have the needless worry about miscommunicating changes with vendors and missing print deadlines. A significant advantage of an event app and its CMS over traditional printed materials is that you can make changes whenever you need.
The air conditioner in the session is on the fritz so you need to move rooms. An impromptu social gathering is happening in the lobby lounge so you want to let everyone know. Or a speaker missed their connecting flight so they will now be presenting tomorrow. Your senior VP changed their presentation deck at the last second so you need to share the updated version. All of these things sound like an event’s perfect storm, but they are regular circumstances that would be impossible to properly communicate using paper.
A CMS allows you to deal with the inevitable by allowing you to instantly share new updates or make last minute changes. The cloud-based system can be used to make changes any time before, during or even after the event. Some graphics can even be changed too: banner ads and the appearance of the activity feed, for example, can be switched up on the fly. And the best part? Users receive your changes automatically and seamlessly within minutes.
Get The Attendees To Create The Content For You
The right CMS should be as easy to use as your smartphone and also make it easy to get your attendees to create app content for you. You’ve already got a lot going on, so this is a great way to generate content for your app and engage your attendees!
Great event apps enable users to contribute their own content to the app. The Gallery component provides a place for images, but if you wish, you can also enable attendees to contribute their own images. When viewing the gallery, attendees can either select an existing image stored on their device or have the camera capture a new one. The attendee can define a caption (or not), and then hit Share to add it to the gallery.
That said, with a CMS like our QuickMobile Platform, you need not worry about any unpleasant surprises — an administrative curator must approve all contributed images before they appear in the app for other attendees to see. Finally, if you desire, newly contributed images can also appear in the app’s Activity Feed, making it hard to miss all the latest duck-lipped selfies.
The Twitter component is another good way to have attendees generate content. This component downloads and displays the most recent tweets containing your event’s preloaded hashtag, and provides users with the opportunity to compose their own tweets with the same hashtag. Even if the user doesn’t access the component directly, you can still expose them to the Twitterverse; tweets composed using the Twitter component can be configured to show up in the Activity Feed.
People love to share. That’s why blogs are popular but nobody keeps a private diary anymore. Put that tendency to good use and cross one more thing off your to-do list.
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Mobile Apps Help #eventprofs Maximize Conference Value
How can a mobile app enhance your conference experience? Tahira Endean shares her thoughts.
Last week, the Association Executive Blog had a great article about how to maximize conference value.
I thought that each point was well thought out and relevant, and would like to explore here how each would be enhanced with a great mobile conference app, and how I have been using well thought out apps to enhance an experience.
1. Do pre-conference research
You should consider why you are attending and be able to track back to your goals to ensure you are making the most of your time away. I do this in a few ways once I have access to the app. First, I look through the attendee list and see who I know that is going, both people I have met IRL and those I know from social media and am looking forward to meeting. Using in-app messaging, I can reach out and see if we can make some preliminary plans to meet during the event.
The author speaks of both preparing and leveraging content. To prepare, I use the app to look through the program/agenda/schedule, check out the topics, see who is speaking, and then highlight/favorite the ones most relevant and interesting to me for easy reference. This also gives me a chance to think about the subject and do a little pre-event research if needed.
My advice to planners: to leverage content and social sharing using your app, be sure to include any blogs or links to specific content that can be shared both in app and with a wider audience (this assumes your organization has chosen to include social sharing in the app, which would typically benefit an association vs. a company which is hosting a sales kick-off for example. Read this free white paper for more info on this topic).
3. Stay healthy
I always agree with this. I love how my S Health app tracks the number of steps I have taken. I also support having some quiet time to reflect on my learning and mentally and physically re-energize, and I am always so excited to see healthy food options at events, the kind that perk people up instead of dragging them down, and even sessions like X-bytes or morning yoga or walking breakouts – they all have a huge appeal. (You MIGHT want to link to the blog with the meetings net webinar in it.
4. Put down your phone
Yes, they say this and I agree. Once I have done the pre-work, I will still use my phone in many ways during the event including seeing where the next room is, responding to in-app polls during sessions and surveys after the sessions, sharing on social media what we are learning that others can also learn from, checking on weather and attire for events, moving documents that are of interest to me into my in-app briefcase, checking in with sponsors and exhibitors, playing along with a gamification initiative, adding pictures to the gallery or setting up meetings with people I want to see. BUT, when it is time to interact with people f2f during sessions, breaks, and functions, go all in and put that phone down and truly take advantage of the reason you are there, which ties into the author’s comment on making a lasting impression.
5. Connect, follow-up, be useful
You can also use the app to connect with a follow-up note and continue a conversation started or an idea sparked.
The author also notes that it’s important to go all in. How many conferences have you attended where you or someone you know leaves the event to work on a proposal for a client instead of attending? We have all been in the position of having to do this – but I would agree this does somewhat defeat the purpose of attending. Be present as much as possible.
This summer, on July 24th and 25th we at QuickMobile are proud to be supporting the Engaging Associations Summit with the creation of an app for their event. We will be using many of the above practices and we look forward to the feedback and seeing everything put into action on an association – engagement – conference – level.
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Advice for Future Event Professionals
While we were at PCMA EduCon 2014, we took a break between sessions to ask attendees what sage wisdom they had to impart to future event professionals. See the videos!
While we were at PCMA EduCon 2014, we took a break between sessions to ask attendees what sage wisdom they had to impart to future event professionals. You can watch some of the videos below or by checking out this playlist.
We received tons of amazing responses from senior event planners, those on the supply side and even event planners who had just graduated into the industry and were keen to share what they wish they’d known while still studying.
Thank you to all the fantastic people who shared their advice. It just goes to show that event professionals can and should learn from everyone they meet in the industry – not just other planners (advice we also shared in our Day in the Life of an Event Planner: After an Event infographic).
So what’s your advice for future event professionals? Let us know through Twitter and we’ll share it with the rest of the world!
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Event App Success Story: JiveWorld 2013 Conference
Learn more about how the JiveWorld 2013 conference app won attendees over with gamification and social media.
Jive Software is a pioneer and leader enterprise social networking solutions. JiveWorld is their annual customer conference, offering an opportunity for global users to learn how to get more out of the Jive platform from the company, and from peers. JiveWorld attracts the most tech-savvy, mobile-oriented segment of the workforce: men and women between the ages of 20 and 40.
After spending a lot of time understanding the event’s goals and objectives, and getting up close and personal with attendee profiles and expectations, QuickMobile, Jive and the gamification experts at BunchBall set about designing an immersive and entertaining mobile experience that was sure to win the hearts of the JiveWorld audience. The game had attendees competing for honor, glory and great prizes throughout the entire event, and the JiveWorld event app served as the game board.
“At the end of the day, the app is the single most important source of information and communication at JiveWorld,” says Ryan Rutan, Jive’s Developer Evangelist. “It keeps people up to date on what’s going on, both at the event and with each other. It helps them network and get connected, and it helps them have fun. On our side, the app helps us project an innovative, fun and cutting-edge image while increasing audience engagement, reducing costs and providing a data-driven perspective on audience behavior at our event. There’s a lot riding on this app for everyone involved.”
So what kind of results and reactions did JiveWorld’s mobile game and event app receive? Read the full case study by clicking the button below.