Apps for conferences and trade shows are red hot. Your attendees expect that your show will have a mobile app that will not only replace the old printed program, but will add some additional modules as a result of being digital. So what are the key features your app must have?
- Schedule. All sessions and events should be listed in the program including (with few exceptions) those that require an extra fee, pre-registration or restricted attendance. Times should be clearly listed along with the location or room.
- Itinerary. One of the favorite activities of many conference attendees has been to sit down with the old program book and circle sessions of interest. You need to provide similar functionality in the mobile app. The app should have a special screen where an attendee can see all the sessions, workshops and events he or she has pre-registered. Then that person should be able to go into the schedule and “circle” (i.e. add) any session to their itinerary. The process of adding an item to the itinerary should not do any checking for pre-registration or the link; the person needs to be able to add the session as an item of interest.
- Presenter information. Most program guides also come with information about the presenters including photos and bios. The app should have this as well as the ability to download files such as Power Points and other files related to the presentation.
- Exhibitor and Sponsor listings. You should be able to provide a list of all your exhibitors and sponsors. Clicking on an individual company should be able to show booth number, contact information, the website, product descriptions, and even a logo. Your premium sponsors should receive special highlighting (such as listing their sponsorship level) in order to distinguish them.
- Trade Show Floor Map. If you have a trade show you should, at the most basic, have a map that will make it easier for the attendee to walk the floor and find an exhibitor. Even better is if he or she can select the booth from the listings and have an arrow pointing to it on the map.
- Maps of the Facility. The trade show is not the only map you need. The app should make it easier for the attendee to navigate the venue. A map of each floor or main area would be great. It would also be appreciated if you can include information about the immediate surroundings of the venue, such as restaurants. You may even be able to bring in extra sponsorship money by highlighting certain nearby locales.
- Messaging. One thing that the old printed guide is not good for is highlighting last second changes to room locations. Using “push notification” messaging you can send all attendees information about last second room changes in real-time. Each attendee would either receive a popup notification on their phone, an email, or a listing in the app’s “message center.” Real-time notifications can also be great for things like contests, lost and found, and other last minute updates.
- Surveys. A good mobile app will let you put to rest the labor associated with the printing, distributing and compilation of workshop surveys. You will also get better response rates if you tie the survey to the workshop’s description in the attendee’s schedule and/or itinerary, making it easy to find and fill out the survey. You can use the messaging feature or someone in the room to remind people to fill out the form as the workshop concludes. You are almost certain to get a higher response rate!
- Social Networking. If appropriate, your app should give attendees a way to interact with each other. It might be as simple as a listing of attendees with basic contact information. You can also make it fun by providing QR codes on the badges that can be scanned resulting in a connection with the other person. Especially nice would be if that connection can include social media information such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook handles.