“Are we there yet?” Little Johnny is kicking the back of the seat, obviously bored, the seatbelt rubbing against the side of his flushed face, his patience long abandoned.
If you are a planner who has resisted embracing the plethora of mobile event application opportunities available, chances are your attendees are feeling like “Little Johnny”.
In a technological world that is spinning faster and faster, if you are not including even the simplest of event applications or social media technology, you are likely to be forgotten amidst the many who have and have done so successfully.
Does that seem harsh? I apologize if it does seem harsh, but the reality is that attendees are expecting… no, they are demanding that we include the use of new technology when planning and executing our events.
These are the same folks who are hooked onto Instagram and foursquare; they update Facebook throughout the day; they use Twitter regularly. They reach their destinations using GPS; they book their airline tickets online; they download their boarding cards on their smart phone; they rate their hotel using Trip Advisor. Your attendees have raised the bar on tech. The question is, are you able to raise yours?
Here are some tips to help you elevate your game for your next event:
Begin early: If you are considering an event application, you probably should have started yesterday. Now you are playing catch-up. Don’t know where to start? Ask colleagues for referrals to companies that they have worked with successfully. The first time working on an event application can be scary and more than a little intimidating. The key is to ASK QUESTIONS! The developer wants you to be happy and to develop a great product, so the better the communication, the better the experience.
Help! If this is the first time you have incorporated the use of social media at your event, don’t presume that all of your attendees are social media savvy. Have a help desk available to assist them with Twitter or any other applications that you are incorporating.
Got Wi-Fi? If you have created something that requires wireless Internet access, don’t assume that the free signal from the coffee shop around the corner will be enough to sustain you because it won’t. (It is also not ethical.) Plan appropriately.
Keep it simple: Always strive to do the basics well! If this is your very first time incorporating a mobile event app, keep it simple. Do the basics exceptionally well, and earn your attendee’s trust. Have onsite support for any glitches that may occur and respond to attendee complaints or problems quickly. If it goes well, you can raise the bar a little higher at the next event.
Content is king: Your application is only as good as the information that it contains. The benefit of using mobile app technology is the ability to update information quickly. A speaker switch, a venue change, is information that can be transmitted to your attendees quickly and efficiently.
Don’t assume: When considering the level of technology to include in our events, we must not make assumptions based on age or gender. Survey attendees in advance so that you can design a product that they will find useful. Whatever we use should enhance the event, not overpower it.
Find your “Yoda”: I worked with a team on a mobile event application a year ago where I compare the relationship with one of the developers as working with “Yoda”. He seemed to intuitively know what we needed and always asked the right questions. There are many companies out there specializing in event applications – they key is finding your “Yoda” – someone with whom you can work closely, who is supportive and patient and lastly, someone who is as committed to the success of your project as you are. Good luck!