Increase The Educational Value Of Your Event With Digital Content

How you deliver conference content to your attendees is changing. Thanks to on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, the idea of omnipresent content—content that is available whenever, wherever, and in the format that is most convenient—is now the expectation. Associations typically offer some form of digital access to event materials, but the idea of providing a single digital format is no longer enough to provide attendees with the user experience they expect.

Feedback from attendees is prompting associations to look for ways to meet these new expectations. Rather than choosing one format, offer your attendees access to a variety of digital content to create a seamless, accessible experience that can heighten the educational value of your event.

Different digital format provide different benefits

It’s common for conference professionals to assume all digital conference products provide the same features, benefits and experiences. In reality, online conference proceedings, mobile apps and USB drives each bring their own unique set of benefits to your conference attendees.

Online Conference Proceedings

Online conference proceedings make conference materials accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Attendees can easily search by session, track and speaker to select the material that interests them prior to the conference.

With online conference proceedings, you can offer a preview of your event’s sessions. These previews can help people decide whether or not they want to attend your conference based on tangible examples of the information you provide. And, by hosting all of these items in one central location, you create a great online resource for attendees to return to after the conference has ended.

Conference App

A conference app is best for portability and on-site information. Your conference attendees can use your mobile app to navigate around the conference using GPS technology, maps and can build their own personal schedule that fits right into their pocket.

Apps also help drive engagement during your conference. Features like live polling, social timelines and direct messaging between attendees and speakers facilitate one of the main reasons your attendees come to your conference year after year: networking.

USB Drive

Relying on the venue’s WiFi is never a good idea, which is why USB drives are great for storing conference materials. The devices are small and easy to carry, especially when they are stored in unique shapes or useful objects like pens and keychains.

One of the biggest perks of USBs is that they make it convenient to access information. While web addresses might be easily forgotten, a physical keychain or item on your attendee’s desk at work will remind them of your association, conference and the information they learned from you.

Why you need a comprehensive approach

Since each digital format has its own set of unique benefits, using multiple options at your event will give attendees the most flexibility in how they engage with your materials. Don’t think of them as a replacement for each other, but rather think about how each option fills a different role in creating a seamless educational experience.

Here are a few examples to illustrate why your conference should offer a comprehensive mix of digital content formats.

Scenario 1

John is interested in attending your conference and goes online to find example conference materials to get a better idea of what your association offers. When he sees your conference proceeding sneak peeks, he registers and uses the online conference proceedings to figure out which sessions he wants to attend. When the day of the conference arrives, John wants to reference the conference materials, but cannot access the venue’s WiFi. Fortunately, he can still pull up materials using the USB keychain you provided at check-in.

Scenario 2

Mary likes to be able to reference conference materials during break-out sessions, but does not want to be weighed down by her laptop all day during your event. Instead, she accesses the conference materials available through your mobile app. During breaks, she also uses the app to post about her experiences on the social timeline and sends a question to a speaker she didn’t get the opportunity to speak with. After the conference is over, Mary deletes the app to free up space on her phone, but is able to log onto your online conference library to reinforce the information she learned at the event.

Scenario 3

Susan is traveling from out of state to your conference and is uneasy about being in a new city. Fortunately, she has downloaded your mobile app, which provides her with GPS directions to the event location and helps her navigate the city during lunch and breaks. However, she finds it difficult to find the exact conference paper she’s looking for on her small phone screen, so she pulls out her laptop and uses the USB your association provided to access and search the materials to find the paper she is looking for.

Give your attendees the format freedom they desire

Providing content in multiple formats can be a challenge if you don’t have a strategy for managing them. One common pitfall is keeping data updated and consistent in multiple places as your content changes. The best way to avoid a data gap is to create a single source of record that is always up to date.

Updating content in multiple places and coordinating with multiple vendors is another scenario that can make managing multiple formats difficult, so consider working with a single vendor that offers all the formats you need.

By offering digital content in a variety of formats you’ll give your attendees the freedom to access materials whenever and wherever they want. All of the digital formats work together to increase the educational value of your event and create a top-notch conference experience.

 

Selecting a Mobile Event App For Your Conference

 

Article Contents

The Basics of Mobile Apps

Finding the best mobile event app for your conference can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get caught up in the technical details and lose focus on what really matters: providing a convenient way for your attendees to access event information while at your conference. With that goal in mind, we’ve put together an overview to help your association learn the basic functionalities that are available in a mobile app and, most importantly, the benefits that different event app features offer your attendees.

The first decision to make when choosing your mobile event app is selecting the right type of app for your event. To help you decide, think about the goals for your organization, conference, and attendee and exhibitor experience.

Types of Mobile Apps

Mobile event apps come in three basic forms: native apps, web-based apps, and hybrid apps. Each of these types of apps has its own unique advantages, and depending on your specific needs, one option might be better suited for your event than the others.

Native Apps

Native apps are built for a specific operating system, such as iOS or Android. These apps are self-contained, meaning most features operate with or without an internet connection once you’ve installed it. All of the content, maps and other information you need on your app will be built-in for optimal performance on each attendees’ device. However, an internet connection will be required to update content once a user has installed it on their device.

Web-Based Apps

Web-based apps are built using HTML code, just like traditional websites, but are specifically optimized for smaller-screen devices. Using these types of apps requires an internet connection, since all content will be hosted online. On some devices, users can create an app-like experience by adding a bookmark to their home screen that, when clicked, will take them directly to the website.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps use a native app “shell” that is built for each operating system, but pulls content from the cloud. These apps can offer partial functionality while offline, but require an internet connection for the app to fully function. Some examples of these types of apps would be Facebook or Twitter; the base app is designed for the phone, but the content is downloaded from the internet.

The table below illustrates a few of the major pros and cons of the three basic types of mobile apps.

Description Advantages Disadvantages
Native Apps Built specifically to the needs of the various operating systems such as Apple’s iOS or Android
  • Speed, performance and user interface are optimized
  • Works without Internet connection
  • Must build a specific app for each operating system
  • Takes more time to develop and deploy
  • Higher development costs

Web-Based Apps

Websites built using HTML that are designed specifically for smaller screens
  • No need to distribute using app stores
  • Works on any device with a browser, but experience varies
  • Lower deployment costs
  • Slower performance
  • Internet connection is required

Hybrid Apps

Native app shell with feeds from the website
  • Caches content, so it works offline to a degree
  • Downloadable from app stores
  • Easier to deploy cross-platform than native apps
  • Lower cost than native apps
  • Doesn’t run as smoothly as native apps
  • Offline performance can be inconsistent
  • Built to specific operating system

 

Which Type of App is Best?

When choosing the type of mobile app that is best for your event, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First, internet connectivity will largely determine the usability of your event app. Does your conference location offer free WiFi? If not, a web-based or hybrid app may not be the best choice. If attendees have to pay for WiFi just to access your app, there’s a good chance they won’t use it. A native app with preloaded content would be a better fit in this scenario.

Also, consider how much you’re expecting your attendees to rely on the app during the conference. Will the app be something used to only check session schedules? Or will you encourage attendees to browse program content throughout the day? If you expect attendees will use the app regularly during the event, you’ll want to choose an app that has better performance, like a native app. Some other factors to consider include:

  • Will the attendees be downloading the app ahead of time, or at the event?
  • Will the venue’s WiFi be fast enough to support all of your attendees’ devices?
  • What types of content are you trying to provide your attendees?
  • How fast or slow do you need content to load?

Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the type of mobile app that fits your association’s objective.  Access to content can largely be done on offline native apps, but interactivity and live information feeds will require internet access and will be better suited for a hybrid app.

Increasing Engagement with Mobile Event Apps

A mobile app can increase engagement at your event by creating new opportunities for attendees to learn about your conference and connect with speakers, sponsors and their peers. Interactive features such as direct messaging, personal itineraries and live polling can help your attendees create an immersive experience and truly connect with their colleagues before, during and after the event.

These attendee connections are crucial to the success of your event; many attendees come to network, and mobile event apps can help facilitate these connections. Incorporating social timelines directly into the app can help attendees interact with speakers and other attendees while at the venue. This is especially helpful if your conference is large, and finding specific people might be a challenge. The ability to network virtually can expand the number of connections your attendees make and helps open the door for new conversations.

Another way to keep your attendees engaged via the app is to include the ability to build a personal profile. A profile allows the user to enter their personal and professional information to create more networking opportunities. Profiles can also let attendees build personal itineraries that help them navigate through a busy day at the conference.

Creating an engaging event app can benefit your association, as well. As host of the event, your association can create a profile to post polls, questions and conversations on the social timeline. Real-time activities like live polling can help spark discussions between attendees, while at the same time providing your association with instant feedback about the event. You can use this information later to improve on your event and help attendees know their opinions matter.

Other Benefits of Mobile Apps

In addition to increasing attendee engagement, mobile event apps offer other benefits as well, from providing event information to generating extra revenue to giving attendees easy access to conference content. Here are some additional benefits that a mobile event app adds to your event.

Simplify event navigation

Emails with conference maps, directions, hotel and parking information are easily buried in your attendees’ and speakers’ inboxes. Instead, all of this basic event information can be hosted on the event app for your attendees to access before and during the conference. GPS-enabled maps can also help your attendees navigate inside the venue and the surrounding area, if necessary.

Your event schedule is another piece of important event content that can be housed on the app. Help your attendees keep track of session start times and speaker locations by including this critical piece of conference data.

Provide up-to-date event information

Mobile apps offer a unique ability to keep your attendees up to date about information throughout your event. Push notifications can help deliver timely alerts if a session has been moved to a different room, for example. Sending a notification directly to attendees’ phones will avoid confusion and reduce the time your staff spends redirecting people.

To keep attendees informed throughout the day, an RSS feed can provide a consistent stream of event updates and information right on the attendees’ phones. A real-time Twitter feed can help them stay informed and engaged throughout the day.

Deliver content directly to attendees

With so much content available to attendees, you want them to be able to access it quickly and easily. An event app can be configured to give your attendees the ability to access abstracts, papers and presentations right on their mobile devices.

Promote networking through gamification

Gamification is another way to incentivize attendee engagement and mobile app use. Features such as leaderboards turn engagement into a game by awarding points to users who conduct certain actions on your app, such as posting a photo on the social timeline or participating in a poll. You can control how many points each action earns, meaning you can strategically incentivize certain aspects of your mobile app.

Generate additional revenue

Your mobile event app doesn’t only have to benefit the attendees. Sponsorships on event apps are a common way for associations to monetize their event. Banner ads and other branding opportunities can allow your organization to generate some extra revenue during the event.

Create value for your exhibitors and sponsors

Exhibitors and sponsors are an important part of your event’s success, and a mobile app increases the value your conference offers them. A live activity feed within the app lets you promote your event sponsors and exhibitors with sponsored posts, banner ads, document downloads, eCommerce links and promoted sessions.

Using a mobile app with lead retrieval allows exhibitors to focus on connecting with attendees, and not on collecting their information. Rather than taking notes on a sheet of paper, exhibitors can simply scan a QR code with their phone to sync an attendee’s information to their device.

Get real-time insight

One of the best things about mobile apps is that they can track how your attendees use them, providing you with insights that can help your association in the future. Perhaps you want to see if people used the engagement features more than the content features. Analytics can help you make informed decisions about what type of app and what event app features you should focus on for next year.

Case Study: How A Mobile Event App Helped IWCS

Offering a mobile event app at your conference can have a dramatic impact on how attendees engage with your event. One association, the International Wire and Cable Symposium (IWCS), experienced this effect first-hand with the addition of digital content to its annual event.

As a tech-based association, IWCS understood how important technology is to its members, which is why it elected to offer content from its annual meeting in print, on a conference content website, on a USB and through a mobile app. The introduction of this new technology helped them increase attendee engagement and participation and raise the profile of their event.

IWCS’s event app included session handouts, program/speaker info, attendee profiles and conference details. In the first year, 87% of attendees downloaded the app, proving the true capabilities of mobile event apps.

To learn more about IWCS’s strategy to increase attendee engagement and participation at their annual event, read the case study, “Blending Print with Digital Content Reinvigorated an Annual Conference.”

Mobile Apps are the Future of Engagement

As you move forward with a mobile event app, be sure to focus on the benefits you’ll be providing to your attendees, and not just on a list of features that sound good on paper. It’s a good idea to talk with other association professionals that have experience creating mobile event apps to gain insight on what has worked for their conferences. A conversation with an Omnipress Event Specialist can also help answer any remaining questions you have about creating an app.

If your association is looking for a new way to improve attendee engagement at your annual event, consider trying a mobile event app. From the variety of capabilities and features to the numerous benefits they provide, event apps are a great choice for conferences of all sizes.

These Are The Opportunities That Event Sponsors Love

 

Associations are always on the lookout for event sponsors that can help defer some of the expense that goes into the annual conference. And, as luck would have it, businesses in your industry are looking for a cost-effective way to communicate with the attendees at your event. Offering a variety of conference materials at your event is one of the best ways to create the in-demand sponsorship opportunities that these businesses are willing to pay for.

Conference materials like printed program guides, USB flash drives, online conference materials and mobile apps provide opportunities for sponsors to connect with the attendees at your event. View the image below to learn which types of sponsorship opportunities each of these materials provide, along with the benefits they offer to your event sponsors.

 

Turn Conference Materials into Conference Revenue

 

From the Graphic

Title: Turn Conference Materials into Conference Revenue

Sponsorships can have a huge impact on your event’s bottom line. Make sure you know all your options when you talk with potential sponsors!

USBs

Location: Logo Directly on Device Case

Benefit to your sponsors: Provide branding opportunities that last long after the event ends

Print

Location: Inside cover of program guide

Benefit to your sponsors: Attention-grabbing image in a high visibility location

Location: Ads in on-site program guides

Benefit to your sponsors: Promote messages to targeted audience at the event

Mobile App

Location: Activity Feed

Benefit to your sponsors: Creates opportunity for interaction with brand

Location: Push Notification

Benefit to your sponsors: Enables ability to reach every attendee with the app

Location: Sponsor Listing Page

Benefit to your sponsors: Provides recognition for making your event a reality

Online Content Library

Location: Above the site banner

Benefit to your sponsors: Ad can be viewed year-round

Location: Next to content

Benefit to your sponsors: Provide direct link to sponsor’s website

For more ideas on how to turn your conference materials into conference revenue, talk with us today! justask@omnipress.com

3 Ways to Provide Value During Your Next Event

People pay a lot of money to come to your events, and that doesn’t even include travel expenses, lodging and time out of the office. It’s a huge investment for anyone to attend a conference, even if it’s a local chapter. Showing clear and evident value is so important these days.

One of the most effective ways of showing clear value and leaving a lasting impressio–so those who attend will come back next year and those who didn’t will see the value–is through your conference content. Providing educational material they can take back to the office and try right away is extremely important. Not only must they be able to learn from the material, but they must be able to access it easily.

So, as attendance continues to slip at conferences across the country, what can you do to make sure those who invest in your conference are getting a return on the investment?

Here Are 3 Ways to Provide Value During Your Next Event:

1) Pre- and Post-Show Access: Your conference material took a lot of time for your speakers and presenters to put together, and there is a lot of value in the lessons they are meant to purvey. So why would you only grant access during the show? Give attendees the opportunity to come prepared by giving access to the materials via a digital publishing platform.

Also, after the event is over, they’ll be able to access the content when they’re back in the office and need a refresher. The best part is, you can allow access to anyone you’d like, whether that be attendees and members only, or the general public.

2) Easy-to-Use Mobile App: Mobile event apps are an absolute must at your conferences these days, but the difference between a successful app and one that simply causes more headaches is ease of use. If your attendees can’t download and be using it within a few minutes, what good does it do? They must be able to share pictures, access and update their itinerary, search venue maps and more without having a doctorate in Mobile App Development. Some of the best apps also make it possible to access valuable conference and speaker materials.

3) High-Quality Printed Materials: Advanced and final programs, conference schedules and conference proceedings are all staples of any conference, but are yours truly high-quality? Those materials with your association or organization’s logo all over them is a direct representation of your company, whether you printed them yourself or not. Make sure your materials are printed on a sturdy stock to last the entire conference, as well as the trip back home.

What are some other unique ways that you offer value to your attendees? I’d love to hear any that have worked well for you and your organization!