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5 Things to Consider When Building an Event App with Limited Resources

Editor's note: This post was originally published on March 29, 2017 but was updated on March 6, 2018 to reflect Apple’s most recent guidelines.

Smart devices have become necessities of the modern life because technology has changed how we receive information and how we communicate with family, friends, and other networks. A recent Deloitte study shows 89% of mobile consumers looked at their phones within an hour of waking up. Also, according to comScore’s 2017 U.S Mobile App Report, in average, people spend around 2.3 hours per day on apps. For the age group of 18-24, they tend to be heavy app users as they spend more than 3 hours per day on apps.

The mobile obsession is reflected in the event industry as attendees are expecting a channel where they can access event information on the go and be able to build networks. As a result, the demand for a mobile app has risen rapidly over the last five years.

Incorporating mobile strategy for today’s trade shows and conferences continues to be increasingly important in order to enhance attendee experience; although, having limited resources is often a primary concern for organizations. If your budget is tight, or you are working in a small team (or team of one), or have limited time to implement an app, you will be happy to know there are solutions available. Here are five things you should consider when building an event app:

1. Go with a Container App:

While there are certainly many benefits of having an app specifically branded to your organization, it does require resources and time that many organizations simply don’t have. Perhaps your organization doesn’t have the luxury of an in-house designer to create the multitude of graphics required by the App Store and Google Play and you find contractors too expensive. Perhaps you don’t have the budget for the extravagance of a branded app. Perhaps Apple's recent change on its App Store Review Guidelines 4.2.6 make the app submission process more complicated than ever as organizations are now required to enroll in the Apple Developer Program for any new app submissions (you can learn more about this news here). If your organization is strapped for resources, consider sharing the app with other events where your attendees download your event within a vendor's app (imagine living in a condo instead of owning a single-family house). Although you won't be able to own the app name or change the structure of the app, you can still make cosmetic changes within the event (like the decor inside your home). This option will for sure save you a substantial amount of time and money and make it easy for your small team to implement.

2. Know Your Audience and Choose Features You Need:

Before investing in a mobile event app for your organization, it's critical to think about the size of your event and demographics of your attendees. Ex: Is this your first mobile app? What's the age range of your attendees? Are they tech-savvy? If your organization is new to mobile event apps, others in your situation generally choose to introduce the core features (ex: personalized schedule, note-taking, etc.) that would enhance user experiences instead of jamming in all the advanced features such as way-finder, beacon, and artificial intelligence (AI). Understand your audience and then select features to match their needs,try to avoid the temptation of just looking for buzzwords in the industry to check off your list.

3. Import Data:

Whether you work with a small team or large crew, an easy data import tool provides you the benefit of modifying event data quickly. Most app vendors offer an Excel data template to enter data into its CMS (Content Management System). Better still, choose a provider capable of integrating with your technology infrastructure such as Association Management Software (AMS), registration system, abstract, etc. allowing you the ability to import data with just a few clicks. With the time saved from integration, your event staff will have more resources for event planning, which may easily outweigh the cost of integration.

4. Utilize Speaker/Sponsor/Exhibitor Portal:

Another way to spare your staff time is to send the profile management portal to your speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors and let them upload their logo, company description, social media handles, and documents. Not only will stakeholders be happier at the opportunity to gain increased exposure, your staff will also no longer have to chase after people who miss the deadlines.

5. Monetize the Event App:

Take advantage of advertisement space and sell them to your sponsors to gain more revenue. Differentiate your sponsor packages with the premier sponsor splash page, the highly sought-after sponsor rotating banners, featured listings, push notifications, and more. Successfully market these opportunities to your sponsors and join the many organizations who cover the cost of their event app with revenue generated from in-app monetization. You can download our eBook, How to Monetize Your Event App, to learn how to generate more revenue from selling in-app advertising opportunities and how to pitch the value to your sponsors and exhibitors.

Having limited resources may be unavoidable, but don’t let it discourage you from your goal of having an informative and engaging event app. Consider incorporating these five strategies to streamline your app implementation and cut down the cost for your next events.

Happy Apping!

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