Pharma Forum has grown significantly since it started. Here’s how event organizers succeeded in adjusting to the changing needs of the industry.
An Adaptable Approach to a Growing Audience
Pharma Forum is the largest meeting management event dedicated to the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industry. On March 19-22, 2013, more than 700 industry meeting planners and professionals gathered at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Since it started nine years ago, the event has grown significantly, which has required event organizers, Center for Business Intelligence (CBI) and MeetingsNet, to adjust to the changing needs of the industry.
QuickMobile was chosen for its collaborative approach and focus on customer service
Sponsorship revenue and sponsor ROI was delivered using the app
Changing How People Engage at Events
For past events, CBI used a web-based app that attendees could access from their phones, as well as paper-based agendas and brochures. As the event evolved, vendors wanted more flexibility and control over their Forum experiences. It also became clear that mobile was changing how people were communicating, sharing information, and networking.
“In 2013, we wanted to provide sponsors with greater return on investment and offer a mobile event solution that would help them better connect with attendees. We also wanted a solution that would drive engagement for everyone involved with the Forum using mobile tools such as polling, push notifications, and up-to-date conference materials.”
The process for finding the right app developer started in October 2012. A number of vendors responded to CBI’s request for information with a broad range of demands, from upfront costs as high as $40,000 to exclusive five-year contracts across CBI’s more than 100 conferences.
As this was our first full-featured conference app, we did not know what to expect, but we knew that we wanted to work with a developer that would approach our relationship as a collaborative partnership,” said Fleck. “We did not want a long-term contract, nor were we ready to do mobile apps for all our events. We wanted a vendor relationship where both parties received what they needed from the relationship, and with QuickMobile, I never felt like I was being sold something I didn’t need. We selected QuickMobile because of its customer service, flexibility and the way we were treated during our meetings. There was an immediate professional connection that continues today.
- 71 percent of attendees downloaded the app
- Each user opened the app an average of 24 times throughout the four-day conference
- Each user viewed an average of 239 pages within the app during the event
Custom Made, Feature-Rich and Service-Oriented
CBI and QuickMobile kicked off the development process in January 2013, focusing on an app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Despite the tight nine-week timeline, CBI was determined to show event delegates what an event app should be. While other developers had rigid specifications for layout and design, QuickMobile’s development team was much more flexible and created a “glossy, hip and contemporary interface” that showcased the Pharma Forum brand.
Fleck added, “The barebones app is not good enough for our group. While we did not have enough time to do all the custom tools that we wanted to include, we took advantage of QuickMobile’s many features, from push notifications and real-time content updates, to social media and direct messaging through the app; all of which amplified the level of interaction among everyone in attendance.”
Moving Forward with 2014 Event App
As a result of CBI’s 2013 experience with QuickMobile, Fleck has already started the planning and development process for the 2014 mobile event app. With more time and planning, Fleck believes QuickMobile can produce an even better app that will encourage more users, deliver more benefits for sponsors and simplify the event management process.
This year, I want all the bells and whistles, and to make it happen, we are starting the development process earlier so we’ll have the time do everything effectively,” commented Fleck. “We are working on incorporating custom features, as well as live tweeting, social media integration, more content and more robust sponsorship placements.”
With additional time, Fleck is confident she can also further monetize the app. In 2013, Fleck sold push notifications to sponsors, which helped drive foot traffic to sponsor booths and virtual traffic to sponsor websites. In 2014, Fleck plans to again sell push notifications, as well as live tweets, and banner and pop-up ads within the app. With the right strategy, the mobile app can be a catalyst for extending the Pharma Forum conversation and engagement, as well as the life of the app, beyond the actual days of the event.
“QuickMobile’s mobile solutions provide tremendous convenience for event attendees.”“They eliminate paper, are easily updated, great for networking, and help our vendors understand the ROI,” concluded Fleck. “People communicate through their devices all day in a variety of ways, and a mobile app whittles away the manual processes that we have used in the past, allowing delegates to communicate on their own terms. Mobile simply delivers a better on-site experience.”