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.

 

Add Value to Your Event with a Lead Retrieval App

 

Increase the value of your event for exhibitors, sponsors and attendees—and generate some new revenue for yourself in the process. Attendify’s mobile event app—which works seamlessly with our CATALYST Abstract management system—now offers integrated lead retrieval, making it super simple for your exhibitors to build relationships with the attendees at your event.

Event professionals are always looking for opportunities to generate additional conference revenue, and lead retrieval is a convenience that exhibitors and sponsors are willing to pay for. If you’ve ever watched an exhibitor struggle to jot down notes after a conversation with an attendee, you know the value a lead retrieval app provides.

Social Lead Retrieval

Scribbling on the back of a business card is the old-tech way of collecting information from event participants. With the Attendify app, exhibitors can use their own mobile phone to scan an attendee’s QR code. Contact information about the lead is available immediately, along with access to view the attendee’s activity stream posts. Exhibitors can also contact leads directly through the app to schedule follow up appointments.

Real-Time Engagement Data

During the event, an analytics dashboard helps you ensure that exhibitors use the app effectively. Lead generation data is available to monitor performance and see which exhibitors are successfully adding leads. These real-time insights are available on your existing device and don’t require adding additional hardware.

Using a lead retrieval app allows exhibitors to use their in-person conversations to build more meaningful engagement with attendees, knowing that details like contact information will be automatically synced to their device.

Providing an easy way for exhibitors to retrieve attendee data is becoming a must-have feature for an event app, similar to the way that attendees expect a mobile app to provide a schedule of the event. To learn more about pricing and the other benefits of offering your exhibitors an integrated lead retrieval app, check out the information on Attendify’s page.

Have you ever offered automated lead retrieval at your events in the past? What other ways are you using technology to create more value for your exhibitors and sponsors? Let us know in the comments below.

Now Available: The 2018 State of the Conference Industry Report

 

We are excited to share the 2018 State of the Conference Industry Report!

For the fourth year in a row, Omnipress has tracked the evolution of conference content and the role it plays at an association’s annual event. This year’s Conference Industry Report indicates that while educational content remains a significant source of value that associations provide, association professionals are facing new challenges as they strive to meet attendees’ changing expectations.

To understand how associations are currently using their conference content, we conducted an online survey of 143 association professionals, many of whom are directly responsible for conference planning.

Download the report to learn:

  • How are associations using content to engage members and increase conference attendance?
  • How are associations deciding which formats to offer at their events?
  • Which types of content are associations currently providing at their conference?
  • Are there common challenges that all associations face delivering their conference content?

Takeaway #1: The annual conference remains a central part of the association’s member growth strategy.

With most associations reporting flat membership growth in 2017, the ability to engage and retain existing members is critical. The annual conference provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the association’s value, and increasing attendance continues to be the number one priority for associations.

Respondents provided some specific areas of focus to increase attendance at their 2018 events:

  • Encourage peer to peer engagement
  • Increase conference quality
  • Update technologies to increase engagement
  • Create more networking opportunities

The opportunity for member engagement extends beyond attending the conference. Associations can provide options for members to participate in other meaningful ways by including an open call for their event. Soliciting presentations from within the association allows the organization to recognize the contributions that members are making in their industry and advance their careers.

Read the full report to learn how other associations use content to engage attendees before, during and after their events.

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.

5 Tips to Avoid an Abstract Management Nightmare

Collecting abstracts is one procedure where surprises at the end can be a real pain. Managing the submission process is complicated enough when it goes correctly, so avoiding any events that derail the process is critical. This information is used to feed a variety of outputs (your website, printed program book, mobile app, etc.) so seemingly small oversights can become significant headaches.

One of the more frustrating oversights is realizing that—after you’ve started to receive submissions—there is information you need, but haven’t asked for.

Sorry, I should have warned you this was a horror story. I’ll give you a second to collect yourself.

The steps involved to fix this mistake are no less frightening than the original error. You’ll need to reach out to one or more vendors to get the missing fields added into the submission process. Easy enough (if your vendor has good customer support). The real headache will come when you have to reach out to the submitters that have already turned in their information. What’s the S.O.P. on that? Depending on your collection method, you may have to contact them individually, explain the oversight, and ask that they resubmit the missing information.

Not exactly the way you intended to kick off this year’s conference, is it?

Avoiding the unforced errors

The real secret to avoiding surprises like this is to have a clear idea of your final outputs in mind from the start. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you begin building your abstract management system:

Tip #1: Finalize your end products before collection begins

Today’s conference landscape means the information you collect will be used in multiple formats. If you don’t have a full list of the items you’ll need information for, how will you know if you have everything you need? Making these decisions before your collection site opens will allow you the opportunity to plan for any unusual data demands.

Tip #2: Talk with an experienced colleague about your plans

You may have a good idea of what you would like to achieve, but there is no replacement for experience. Enlist the advice of a fellow association conference planner that has actually created the kind of output you are planning to use. They will undoubtedly have insight on what works and what to avoid in your planning phase. Feel free to learn from their mistakes!

Tip #3: Work with your vendor to create an information checklist

Checklists are a great way to prevent anything from slipping through the cracks. Talk with each of your vendors and make a checklist of all the information they need to complete the project. Check off each item as you work through a test submission. This fool-proof way of auditing your collection process will let you see what information is needed. It will also highlight any extraneous data that unnecessarily complicates the collection process.

Tip #4: Make sure each output handles information consistently.

This consideration is especially important if you are working with multiple vendors. Even if you have collected all the information you need, make sure that each platform interprets it consistently.

For example, when asking for a submitter’s name, do all of your outputs support a “credentialing” field? If Joe Smith adds his “PhD” designation in a suffix form, will that information be consistently applied with each vendor you use?

Tip #5: Know which deadlines can slip and which cannot.

In a perfect world, submissions would start arriving the instant you send out your announcement. Hey, we can dream, right? In reality though, your deadlines are going to be tested. We’ve talked before about having advertised deadlines vs absolute deadlines and it’s important to know which deadlines are flexible and which are not.

Typically, mobile apps have a longer development process and some of the earliest deadlines. However, being a digital product, updates to the app can typically be made later, even as the event date nears. Compare that to a deadline for printing conference schedules. A deadline for printing has to factor in time to create the documents and ship them to the event. After a certain date it is impossible to make changes and have the documents delivered on time.

Conclusion

It should be no surprise that the key to a successful abstract collection process can be summed up by these six words: Fail to plan, plan to fail.

It’s essential to know what information you will need before you can begin to collect it. Having a solid grip on your intended outputs is the only way to make sure information gets from the collection site to your conference. And don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced colleague or vendor. Their firsthand experience can help you avoid any missteps along the way.

Do you have any other words of wisdom to share with your fellow planning professionals? What data pitfalls have you come across while adding a new output to your conference portfolio? Let us know in the comments!

Top Challenges That Meeting Planners Face

The meeting planners we meet love their jobs. Working towards a successful conference is rewarding, and the journey from that first planning meeting to the closing reception includes many satisfying moments.

And yet … there are many frustrations that meeting planners deal with, too. In the spirit of fun and friendly competition, the Omnipress team drew up a bracket of things that drive meeting planners crazy. If you’ve followed along, you know that we’re down to the title game!

Conference content is Omnipress’ game, so I’ll give you some ideas to limit your frustration for the four content challenges in the bracket.

  • Managing the process for collection and review of countless abstracts, working with a very clunky system. You’re ready to tear your hair out! Look for an abstract management system that allows you the flexibility to meld it to your process—without the cost of customization. A configurable abstract management is a good compromise.
  • Another presenter gave you their final materials after the deadline, and now you have to call three different vendors to update the app, the website, and the printed program. For the fourth time this week! Doing the same task multiple times can be infuriating. As much as possible, limit the number of vendors you have to call to make a similar change. Some conference printers also provide content websites, USBs, and conference apps, and some may also handle abstract management. Use a single provider to cut down on the runaround when updates need to be made.
  • You’ve called your conference printer three times this week and no one has gotten back to you. There’s no excuse for bad customer service. Agreed! Providers who don’t respect your time and return your calls are the pits. Choose a conference printer that’s big enough to meet your needs—and your deadlines—but not so big that they don’t treat you right.
  • Attendees bring every device under the sun to your annual meeting—except laptops—and your online conference materials only look good on a full-sized screen. Good news—you can completely avoid this situation! Just make sure the provider of your content website can build your site with responsive design. Your site will look amazing on tablets, desktops, laptops, and smartphones.

Your work as a meeting planner is so important—all you do helps your association fulfill its mission. Though there are daily annoyances that drive you crazy, I hope you realize how critical it is to your association’s members to have access to an annual meeting that’s a rich, meaningful experience. Thank you for working hard to make professionals in your industry more successful. We appreciate meeting planners and all they do for their associations!

Make your vote heard! Vote in the championship round for the thing that drives meeting planners crazy. Follow this link or visit our Facebook page and click on the March Conference Madness tab. We’ll announce the results next week!

March Conference Madness is Underway! Vote Today!

Omnipress is happy to bring you March Conference Madness! Last week, 40 meeting planners like you voted on what drives them mad. With their help, we’ve narrowed the field to four options:

  • It seems like everyone you work with has champagne taste—and you’re working with a beer budget. Are you the only one who thinks about managing costs? Sometimes, unfortunately, you have to be “the bad guy” and bring up the budget when a colleague’s eyes are bigger than their stomach.
  • Another presenter gave you their final materials after the deadline, and now you have to call three different vendors to update the app, the website, and the printed program. For the fourth time this week! Those late submissions are enough to drive any meeting planner mad. To make it a little easier on yourself, work with a provider that handles all of your outputs—print, website, and app—so you only have one call to make with updates.
  • A CVB calls you out of the blue and tries to monopolize half an hour with their sales pitch. You don’t have time for that! Unsolicited sales pitches are the phone call equivalent of spam emails—the worst! If you don’t recognize the number, voicemail is your first line of defense.
  • You’ve called your conference printer three times this week and no one has gotten back to you. There’s no excuse for bad customer service. This lack of response would drive anyone mad! Meeting planners need to hear back quickly more than others, because deadlines are always coming at you full-speed. If your printer can’t keep up … well, maybe that shouldn’t be your printer anymore.

Let’s take this madness to the next level: the championship! Here’s the schedule for the remainder of our March Conference Madness:

  • Monday, 3/28 – Vote between the two remaining answers to determine the winner!
  • Friday, 4/1 – Voting closes
  • Monday, 4/4 – Winner is announced

Visit this page to vote, or go to our Facebook page and click on the March Conference Madness tab.

What drives you mad about delivering conference content? In our State of the Industry report, over 150 meeting planners answered the question. See their answers and read the full report!

Learn How One Association Takes Its Online Content Beyond the Conference

The International Wire and Cable Symposium (IWCS) understands how important technology and innovation are to its members, which is why the association has embraced digital options in addition to the traditional print offerings to deliver conference content to its attendees.

IWCS also realized that each digital format is a separate entity, and attendees use each to accomplish different things. An app isn’t simply a digital version of a printed program; it’s a different animal altogether, with its own purposes and strengths. Considering these points, IWCS wanted to make their conference materials available in a wide variety of formats.

IWCS offers content from its annual meeting in print, on a conference content website, on a USB, and through a mobile app. The association also uses an online abstract management system for collection and review.

The conference content website is a cornerstone IWCS’ digital strategy. As a result of taking its conference content online, IWCS accomplished these worthy goals.

Strengthened academic relationships
Members of the academic community must “publish or perish,” and a digital publishing platform makes it easier for professionals to gain exposure. Space is much less limited online than it is in a printed book of proceedings. Since IWCS added online conference materials to its content offerings, academic participation has skyrocketed.

Extended the lifecycle of the conferenceOnline content can be accessed by search engines, which increased IWCS’ online visibility. Not only could attendees easily find the content they needed, but others in the industry could find conference materials as well. Prospective members and attendees could access IWCS’ high-quality, well-vetted content, which could give them just the push they need to join the association or register for the conference.

Learn more about how IWCS took its content digital—read the case study! For more tips on using your online conference materials to meet your association’s goal, download our whitepaper Tap Into The Full Potential of Your Online Conference Materials

Get In On the Action: Mobile Devices & Conferences

Picture a crowd of attendees at your conference. They have just a few minutes before the next break-out session starts; the whole space is buzzing with activity as attendees use the time to connect with colleagues back at the office, jot down a few notes from the previous session, and update social media.

How are the attendees completing all of these tasks quickly and efficiently? With their mobile devices, of course. Smartphones and tablets are as common at conferences as business cards these days. Getting and staying connected is simply the way we do business now.

So what is your association waiting for? Mobile devices nearly outnumber attendees at your conference, and you still don’t have an app? Get on there!

When your association uses an app, your conference becomes part of the flurry of activity that takes place between sessions. The notes being taken can live within the app. A tweet shout-out to an attendee’s network about the great session she just attended? The app made that easy, too. Checking the room number for the next session, messaging a fellow attendee to firm up dinner plans, and skimming the handouts from the plenary session—attendees can do all of this within a conference app.

Your attendees’ mobile devices are coming to your conference. Shouldn’t your app meet them there? See what Omnipress’ conference app can do—try the demo!

How 2016 Meeting Trends Will Impact How You Manage Conference Content

Believe it or not, 2015 is nearly in the rearview mirror, which means that every professional resource you read will be looking ahead to 2016. Earlier this month, Associations Now published “Early Meeting Predictions for 2016,” which also featured Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s “2016 Meetings and Events Forecast.” The predictions in the report speak to positive growth in the industry, but at a price for already-squeezed meeting planners.

Limited hotel inventory, increasing food and beverage costs and more concerns mean that you’re going to have to plan further out, sharpen your hotel negotiations and continue to get even more creative to meet your objectives.

What do hotel and F&B trends have to do with your conference content? Quite a lot, actually. You’ll be looking for ways to improve efficiency in other areas to free up your personal bandwidth for line items with higher price tags. Start with these three ideas to make managing conference content easier in 2016:

  1. Get ahead where you can. Each content project requires a different timeline. You will want to start shopping for an abstract management system 12-18 months before your conference and plan to open your site about 9 months before your conference. You’ll want to have your online content up and running 6 months out for promotion and searchability. Print, on the other hand, may only need 3-6 months lead time, or even less, if your printer is agile and understands the tight deadlines that associations face. Keep in mind that the more complex your content or your collection process is, the more lead time you’ll need.
  1. Consolidate your contracts and vendors. This tip can save you a lot of hassle! The fewer calls you have to make to follow up on your conference content, the smoother your planning will be. You may have an opportunity to consolidate your vendors. Ask if your abstract management provider can also handle your printed materials, online content and conference app.
  1. Make more and better use of technology. Speaking of apps, your attendees make extensive use of their mobile devices. Is your association represented with a conference app? Go beyond offering simply a “conference program behind glass.” Many apps can serve other purposes, as well. Give attendees the option to create personalized itineraries. Foster networking with a social timeline and communication tools like person-to-person messaging. Enhance engagement with live polling and push notifications. Watch how a truly great app can improve your conference.

IWCS took advantage of these ideas well before 2016 and were thrilled with the excitement a conference app brought to their annual meeting. Read their story!

Are you planning to implement any conference content improvements next year? Let us know in the comments!

7 Ways a Conference App Enhances Your Attendees’ Experience

When was the last time you stopped and thought about how amazing mobile technology is? It’s easy to take this for granted. Didn’t we always have smartphones, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice to check the weather, the score, or the best route to your destination?

No! We didn’t.

But now we do, and it’s pretty incredible. Mobile technology can make your association’s annual meeting even more rewarding for attendees, on both the social/networking and the professional development side of the coin.

How? I have spilled ink on the subject before, but here’s a refresher on conference apps and the tools that enhance your attendees’ experience.

  1. Complete program information: Gone are the days when attendees would have to carry half of their body weight in printed proceedings just to look up where the next session is taking place. It’s all in the palms of their hands!
  2. Full access to conference content: Attendees can preview the handouts for an upcoming session, read through the abstract covered in yesterday’s keynote, or skim a presentation they missed to see if it’s worth following up on at home. Any content your association chooses to make available can be accessed through the app.
  3. Simple communication between attendees: Attendees can post to the app’s timeline or send a person-to-person message to a new acquaintance, without sharing contact information. All while staying in the conference app!
  4. Easy-to-use connectivity between speakers and sessions: If Ken loved hearing industry thought leader Dr. Jones contribute in a panel discussion, he can look her up in the Speaker section of the app and make plans to attend her session the next day.
  5. Timely push notifications: Keep attendees in the loop with push notifications. Announce a room change, let them know there’s a car in the parking lot with lights on, or promote your association’s next conference.
  6. Engaging live polls: Everyone likes to make their voice heard! Give attendees the opportunity with live polling. Ask for feedback on a keynote address, the networking events, or where to hold the next annual meeting.
  7. GPS-enabled maps: Getting around a new city can be a challenge, even though the map looks so easy to navigate. GPS-enabled maps can help attendees understand their location in relation to points of interest, like the convention center, area hotels, the airport, and recommended restaurants. They can just point the blue dot (themselves!) in the direction of their destination.

We’ve come a long way since the days when a printed proceedings book was the only option for attendees. There are other ways to access content, including online conference materials and USBs, to make it easier for professionals to learn on the go. Conference apps help attendees manage their engagement during the annual meeting, as well beforehand and afterward.

Remember how helpful mobile tools can be in your own life and recognize their potential to make your attendees’ conference experience richer.

Life is better with the right app. So is your conference! Make sure you include a conference app from Omnipress in your content strategy and budget.