Two Birds, One Stone: Conference App Edition

One of your association’s main objectives for its annual meeting is attendee engagement. A conference should motivate and reenergize your membership. You want them to go back to their jobs with renewed vigor, new ideas, and more contacts to add to their mental Rolodexes.

Another practical takeaway for association staff is honest, useful feedback. Sometimes surveys fulfill this goal well, but often, comments are either banal (and therefore, not particularly helpful) or vitriolic, which leads you to consider the source and wonder if the outrage was truly justified.

A fully-featured conference app can help to foster both engagement and feedback with one nifty tool: live polling.

Real-time results are always compelling. In this age of immediate gratification, there’s something addictive about seeing your vote take effect and change the outcome, right now.

You don’t get that from the voting booth on Election Day, or even when you call in to support your favorite contestant on American Idol. This build-up of excitement checks the engagement button.

When you invite attendees to participate in polling via your conference app, you give them an opportunity to submit feedback easily—and in a limited capacity. Polls are multiple choice, so there’s no room for tirades.

The answers can be as basic or as creative as you want them to be; you are in the driver’s seat. Post-session surveys can capture the vibe from a particular speaker on a specific subject.

The polling questions you send out to attendees who downloaded the app concern the conference as a whole, which is good information you can use to plan next year’s meeting. Feedback: check!

Encourage both feedback and engagement with live polling. Experience it in action by downloading our demo conference app (Apple, Android) and taking it for a test drive. Got some feedback of your own to share? Let us know!

An Introvert’s Guide to Using a Conference App to Network: 3 Easy Tips

Many attendees count networking and social engagement with others among their top reasons to come to an association’s annual meeting. This may be the only time each year that attendees get to see and catch up with mentors, colleagues, and college classmates. It’s like a yearly reunion of all their professional contacts, near and far.

For a significant percentage of your association’s members, however, all of this small talk and noisy interaction is more a source of frustration than a prime reason to attend a conference. Introverts know the benefits of networking, but find the process stressful. They really do want to connect with others. It’s just that introverts are acutely aware of the impact social interactions has on their energy level.

Conferences are inherently fraught with overwhelming situations for introverts, between the stress of travel, the frustrations in spending hours in crowded rooms with strangers, the compulsion to talk to people when they’d rather just be alone … Many may feel just like my favorite introvert, who is fond of saying, “I’m overpeopled!”

A conference app with social features allows an introvert to dip a toe in the networking waters without draining their energy reserves. These three tips can help these attendees connect with others, while protecting themselves:

  1. Use timeline to interact with others. Interacting with fellow attendees through digital channels is easier for many introverts. The Omnipress conference app includes a timeline that’s available only to attendees who set up a profile. That means the audience is smaller and targeted to those in the field your association serves, which adds to an introvert’s sense of comfort and ease.
  2. Participate in live polling. Raising a hand to vote as part of a session can be stressful for an introvert. What if the speaker calls on you? Just taking part in a poll shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an invitation to call out an introvert in front of the group. That’s the stuff nightmares are made of! Attendees can take part in a live poll anonymously with Omnipress’ Connect App. Introverts can make their voices heard, without having to speak.
  3. Send person-to-person messages to schedule one-on-one or small-group meetings. Engaging in conversation with one person or just a few colleagues is an introvert’s sweet spot. By using the Connect App’s person-to-person messaging, an introverted attendee can reach out to others individually and set up lunch or coffee. Contact information doesn’t even need to be exchanged! As long as both parties have a profile set up in the app, they can connect through messaging.

Some extroverts can walk into a room and strike up an interesting conversation with just about anyone. Just the mention of such seemingly brash behavior is enough to send some introverts back to their hotel rooms for an evening of room service and pay-per-view movies.

But introverts don’t have to stay home from your association’s annual meeting to avoid the stress that sometimes comes with social interactions. They simply need different tools to make connections.

Most introverts realize there is much to be gained from attending a conference, even if that means dealing with situations that drain them. When they use the conference app to network in their own way, they can take advantage of the social aspects of an annual meeting with fewer adverse consequences.

To see Omnipress’ Connect App in action, download our demo and try it out yourself (Apple, Android)! Let us know what you think in the comments.

Got a Fall Conference? Count on Omnipress to Handle Your Last-Minute Needs!

Does your association hold a fall conference? We have found that October and November are among the busiest months for annual meetings, though many take place in September as well.

So, not to bring up a sore subject, but how is it going putting together conference content for the fall meeting? Do you have a printer set up? Are you planning to give away USBs, but haven’t chosen a vendor yet? Are you going to offer an app this year?

I’m sure you need no reminder that this is crunch time. What I’d like to offer is a solution to your conference content woes: a company of people who work as hard as you do.

Omnipress turns around projects so fast, you’ll wonder why you ever chose a different provider. We can’t make any promises until we hear the details of your situation, but if you need it yesterday, odds are that Omnipress can make it happen.

What do we do especially fast? So glad you asked!

  • Conference printing: Got print-ready PDFs of your conference materials? We can get them on press and out the door to your meeting site in days. Let us show you where quality and quickness intersect.
  • USBs & CDs: Our duplication software makes quick work of creating physical digital goods for your meeting’s goodie bag. Reach out to us today to get the ball rolling!
  • Conference apps: Our proposal cites a lead time of 4-6 weeks for apps, but we’ve been known to get them ready faster, if we expedite the approval process. If you are looking to add an app this year but fear it’s too late, give us a call. There may still be time to get it done for you, to your attendees’ delight.

Online conference materials and abstract management usually require longer lead times. You’re probably all set for them this year, if you used them.

But what about next year? If Omnipress customer service and responsiveness impressed you on a fall conference program, just imagine how easy the whole process could be if you worked with us from start to finish.

If your conference is right around the corner and you need help ASAP, consider Omnipress your saving grace. We have served other associations that were under tight deadlines and surpassed their expectations.

We would love to do the same for you.

 

7 Reasons to Offer Online Conference Materials—Even If You Already Have an App

When it comes to conference content, your association has accepted that many attendees prefer digital distribution. In a digital world, a printed program alone just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Attendees seem to bring smartphones everywhere they go, so a conference app felt like the best choice. You’ll still distribute some printed programs to cover your bases for attendees who don’t download the app or want to read content in print.

So now you’re covered, right?

Not so fast! Apps bring many benefits to the table, including a personal itinerary for the annual meeting and tools to engage with others, but there are many reasons to offer access to online conference materials as well.

  1. Better search: The search tools available online, including full-text and faceted search, are superior to the basic keyword search on the app. When attendees are looking for a specific presentation, it matters!
  2. Post-meeting access: Apps are most useful during a conference. Many attendees don’t use it at all once they board the plane home, though the content is still relevant and worth a second look. Viewing materials on a computer, when back in the office, is easier.
  3. Better reading experience: Deep reading is challenging on a small screen. That’s why many attendees choose to pore over new research on a full screen, rather than using the app.
  4. Long-term access: Most apps have a 12-month license. Once it’s time to release the 2016 app, all of the digital materials from 2015 will be removed and … well, then what? If you offer online conference materials, however, you can begin to build an archive of content that extends through the years.
  5. Search engine accessible: Websites are accessed by search engines; apps are not. To increase your SEO (search engine optimization), which helps new members find the association, and give presenters and authors maximum exposure, online is the way to go.
  6. Responsive design: Websites built with responsive design appear differently, depending on the size of the screen used to view them. If an attendee brings a tablet to your conference, as many do, viewing conference materials online will trump an app. Setting up an itinerary, receiving push notifications, and connecting with other attendees, however, are reasons to keep the app as well.
  7. Non-dues revenue: As you build your association’s conference content archive, you can plan to charge access for past years. You can also restrict access for current content to attendees and/or members. Generate non-dues revenue and control access online.

More avenues to the quality content from your annual meeting is better than fewer. When each format brings key benefits like the seven outlined here, it’s clear that investing more time and effort in conference content will pay off in the long run.

To keep the conference content process clean and streamlined for your association, choose a single-source solution. Omnipress can provide everything you need, from abstract management to all outputs—conference printing, USBs, conference apps, and online conference materials.

5 Signs That Your Conference Content’s Check-Engine Light Is On

Last week on the blog, you learned how to tell if your content engine needs a tune-up. In other words, it would be a good idea to take a look under the hood. It’s not urgent, though. You should do it, but your content engine will still run if you don’t get around to it right away.

When your check engine light is on, however, you’ve reached critical mass. Action must be taken. There are several reasons why those lights on your dash illuminated, from the innocuous to more problematic causes. It could be something simple, like a loose gas cap, or something more serious, such as a catalytic converter that needs to be replaced. Regardless of what the ultimate cause is, you shouldn’t ignore it.

When it comes to your conference, there are a few surefire signs that your content engine needs immediate attention.

  1. You overhear conversations about content outputs at your conference. Two colleagues lament the loss of the printed program, for instance, or voice complaints about the new app. Like it or not, people are more honest in conversation with each other than they are in surveys with you.
  2. You find yourself trying to convince the board (again) to budget for additional formats to deliver conference content. Does your association’s board need to be reminded that content is the engine of the annual meeting? A shift in priorities may be in order. That shock of recognition you’re feeling? That’s the light on your dashboard.
  3. You have noticed that your attendee demographics are shifting. Do you cater to more millennials and fewer baby boomers than you did in the past? According to a survey we conducted, millennials prefer to learn from printed materials. Have you welcomed more international attendees in recent years? They may find printed materials cumbersome; their capacity for additional carry-on space may be limited. Perhaps online conference materials are the best choice for them.
  4. You have learned that attendees have a strong preference for one type of output (say, online conference materials) … except for those who show an equally strong preference for a different one (say, print). As the famous quote goes, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” (John Lyndgate) Trying to win with everyone is a losing proposition, so just do the best you can to offer multiple outputs to your attendees—printed materials, online conference materials, USBs/CDs, and a conference app.
  5. You know fellow association professionals (say, the ones you’ll meet up with next week at ASAE) who have had success with offering multiple outputs. We have found that in the association world, it helps to know how other groups like yours are handling their content. Hearing success stories from colleagues (or reading case studies) may have you wondering if you should make a change.

When signs like these point towards potential danger, it’s best to take care of things right away. Conference content is too important to take for granted, or continue on autopilot because it’s easier than making a change. Attendee satisfaction does depend, in part, on whether content comes in the format they prefer—and everyone is different. The best solution is to invest in your conference by providing as many different ways to consume the content as you can.

The Omnipress team will embody the automotive theme we’ve been using in recent blog posts at ASAE Annual 2015 in Detroit. Stop by booth 515 to learn more and pick up a USB that includes our newest white paper, Your 19-Point Conference Content Inspection. We hope to see you soon!

How to Tell If Your Content Engine Needs a Tune-Up

Is it time your content engine got a tune-up?

How can you tell? Here are a few clues:

  • Attendees have been requesting a conference app and/or online access to content. People are spending more and more time online and on mobile devices. Your association’s conference content should be available there!
  • Your conference content budget has not seen an increase in several years. Are your content offerings in a holding pattern? Remember, content is the engine that moves your meeting—and your attendees. Give it the resources it deserves!
  • Printed programs have been less popular lately. Maybe the shiny, new technologies attract attendees’ attention more than the stalwart conference program. If so, it might be time to offer fewer programs and focus on offering online access to conference content.
  • Printed programs have been more popular lately. In a recent survey we conducted, millennials showed a preference for printed materials for educational content. If you have found that professionals young and not-so-young prefer printed programs or proceedings, make sure you have enough available.
  • Your association offers only one way to access conference content. Just as you don’t offer a single appetizer at the opening reception for your association’s annual meeting, you should give attendees a choice on how they consume conference content. One size does not fit all.
  • Your competition gives attendees more content outputs than your association does. Do other associations in your industry offer more avenue to conference content, like an app, online conference materials, a USB, and printed materials? It may be time to step up your game—or lose members to an organization that already has.

 

Conference Content: The Engine That Drives Your Association’s Annual Meeting

When it comes to your association’s conference, it can be helpful to think of content as the engine of your annual meeting.

It’s true that all other aspects of your conference are also important—ordering tasty and healthy food and beverage, brokering agreements with sponsors, working with exhibitors, booking hotel blocks, handling speaker requests, and so much more.

But without content? Your annual meeting just doesn’t run without it. Much like the engine of car, your association’s conference content is the critical component that brings it all together and, simply put, makes it go.

Your content engine is far too important to leave untended, therefore, and it needs a good tune-up every so often. When was the last time you gave more thought (much less budget!) to your conference content than you did to food and beverage?

Yet the quality of the content—and the method(s) of delivery you used to get it in the hands of your attendees—is what will really determine whether members will attend next year.

When professionals return to the office after a conference, what do their colleagues ask? What did you learn? Did you catch Dr. Smith’s session? How was it? Can I take a look at your notes? Do you think our boss will let me go next year? The conversation is centered on content. Eventually networking events, venue, and that great breakfast spread will come up, but first and foremost is content.

How are you planning to deliver content for your next annual meeting? Printed programs and/or proceedings? Online? Through a conference app? On a USB or CD? A combination of the above, or all of these methods? How will your session speakers be selected? Have you chosen an abstract management system to keep that process streamlined and under control?

If your answer to any of those questions is I haven’t figured that out yet, but you can describe the opening reception hors d’oeuvres in detail, you may want to think about getting your content engine in for a check-up, ASAP.

Stop by booth 515 at ASAE Annual to consult the Omnipress “pit crew” on your content engine. We’d love to help you look into ways you can get your conference content in good shape and keep it that way for years to come. See you in Motor City!

Preserve the Print! How to Expand Your Conference Content Delivery

Every once in a while, we all need a reminder that just because something isn’t new and “shiny” anymore doesn’t mean it’s old-fashioned and obsolete. In fact, in some cases, the tried-and-true solution is the better choice.

Take, for example, the Mason jars seen in this picture. You probably know some people who have started using glass containers instead of plastic, especially if the food will be reheated, to prevent chemicals from leaching into the food. Glass and ceramic containers are much safer containers for reheating food than plastic. The classic solution is the best.

The same can be said of printed conference materials. Does every attendee want a printed program book? Probably not. But if you stopped printing conference programs altogether, you would find that many people would be disappointed.

The permanence of print is attractive to some attendees; other learn better from print than online resources or mobile apps. Some may not even be able to put a finger on exactly why it would be upsetting to have to access conference content online. Surely spotty or expensive WiFi at the venue and/or hotel doesn’t help matters any. Maybe it’s something as simple as missing the next volume of association proceedings to join the volumes from the last 15 years on the office bookshelf.

Whatever the reason, printed conference materials are important to attendees, and not just the baby boomers!

In a survey of over 550 millennials, conducted in December 2014, we found that 53% of young professionals (22-33 years old) agreed that “When I attend a professional conference, I want a printed program.” (Only 17% disagreed with the statement; the rest had no opinion.)

Answers were much more split, however, on this statement: “When I attend a professional conference, I prefer to look at a website or app for information.” Only 30% agreed, while nearly a third (32%) disagreed and the most frequently given answer was “disagree” at 38%. (To read more about the millennials and print survey, download the white paper.)

Printed conference programs are no longer the only game in town, and there are many reasons to consider adding a conference app or event content website to the mix. But be sure to note the phrasing: adding is the operative word.

Preserve the print—your attendees want it, so you should provide it. But make way for new ways to access conference content, too. After all, online conference materials are helpful for building a personalized itinerary before the conference, and poring over abstracts once you’re back in the office. Conference apps foster attendee engagement, especially when you make use of features like person-to-person messaging, live polling, and a social timeline.

To make it easier for you to try a new technology in addition to print without breaking your content budget, Omnipress is offering a special promotion! If you work with Omnipress for your printed conference materials, you can get up to 75% off a conference app or online conference materials. To learn more and register for the promotion, visit omnipress.com.

Hurry—an offer this good won’t last long! A signed proposal is due back to Omnipress by June 30th. Register today!

How to Measure Success of Mobile Event Apps

One of the greatest mistakes you can make when providing a mobile event app for your annual conference is waiting until the event is over to try and figure out if your app was successful or not.

Instead, prior to launching a mobile event app, you should take the time to consider what success will look like for your app. Start by reviewing the objective for your mobile event app and then determine how you can measure if your objective was met.

2 Ways to Measure Success of Mobile Event Apps

Here are two simple ways you can determine if your mobile event app objective was met:

  • Ask for Attendee Feedback.
    Include a survey for attendees to take in the app allowing them to share feedback on the functionality and usefulness of your mobile app.
  • Utilize Analytics.
    Track how many attendees download your mobile event app, the most viewed content, the number of visitors to the sponsor module and other important data.

Please note: It is important to talk to your mobile event app provider to understand what data will be available to you.

Using Analytics for Mobile Event Apps

If you collect data, be sure you think about how it can be used. For example, if you have a sponsor list in your app, you can use the data to help gain more sponsors in the future.

mobile-event-app-sponsor-listing

 

Also, if you know that speaker information was a frequently visited module, you can think about how to add or change the information to get the most value, encouraging attendees to check out other modules of the conference app.

mobile-event-app-speaker-listing

The key to determining success is to have the data available to so you can make intelligent decisions on how to improve mobile event apps for upcoming conferences.

How are you measuring the success of your mobile event apps?

 

 

3 Ways to Increase Mobile Event App Downloads

 

Conference halls are full of attendees obsessively checking their email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, frantically searching for a power outlet to charge their dying iPhones and asking about Wi-Fi access and passwords.
According to Pew Research, as of September 2012, 45% of American adults own a smartphone and 25% own a tablet.

The fact attendees are captivated with their smartphones and tablets should not be a deterrence from your annual meeting; it should be yet another opportunity to reach your attendees through a mobile event app.

The Challenge of Mobile Event App Adoption

There is no question; mobile event apps are going to continue to increase in popularity. In fact, in Omnipress’ 2012 Mobile Event App Survey, 80% of organizations stated they will provide a mobile event app within the next two years.

The challenge many associations and organizations that hold meetings are facing is how to market their mobile event app. In other words, how can meeting professionals increase the adoption rates of their mobile event apps, in turn, maximizing their ROI?

3 Ways Associations Market Mobile Event Apps

  1. Make sure your mobile event app is live 30 days before the conference.
    Of course, there is no exact number of days before your meeting that your mobile app should launch. It will vary depending on what your mobile objective is, but having your app available early will allow for more time to build interest and engage attendees around your event. Remember: You can always update content easily as you get closer to your conference.
  2. Optimize your mobile event app for all devices.
    Unfortunately, technology is taking attendees in all different directions: iPhones, Android phones, iPads, Kindle Fires and countless other devices. In order to make your mobile event app accessible to your attendees, you need to make sure it is optimized for the devices your members are using. While it may not be realistic to optimize for all devices, make sure your mobile app is optimized to reach the majority of your attendees.
  3. Include a call to action on your conference website.
    Include a large call to action (CTA) on the homepage of your conference website to make sure visitors know you have a mobile app for your conference. Your CTA should link directly to the place(s) where they can download the app.

Does your organization use a mobile event app? How do you get members to use it?

Take Our2022 Training
Trends Survey

Each year, Omnipress collects data from training professionals to benchmark educational content trends. The results will be published in our annual Training Trends Report in early April.

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