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!

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.

 

Associations’ Educational Role: Provide Content

Your association feels many roles in the eyes of its members—networking opportunity, professional development resource, the final word on standards and policy issues, author of publications that shape the industry, and provider of relevant goods and services at discounted prices. But what about teacher? Do you consider your association an acceptable alternative to higher education, or is it best seen as a supplement to the traditional college experience?

Associations Now discussed this issue in an article by Katie Bascuas. With college tuition up by over 500% since 1986, it makes sense to consider whether professional associations should take up the role of educator as well as its other crucial functions. Are associations equipped to play a bigger part in the education of their members?

Providing more educational support to members represents an opportunity for associations, always struggling to prove their relevance. Associations can help further real-world education for young professionals by developing mentorship programs. And timing is key—establishing mentor-mentee relationships before more baby boomers retire will help programs thrive.

Position your association as part of the ongoing education of professionals, rather than focusing on networking and one-off professional development opportunities, and you’ll recruit and retain more members. Those with college degrees know they have much more to learn in the field, and those without are particularly eager to fill in the gaps.

No matter what role your association plays in the education of its members, there will always be opportunities to learn more, through conferences and meetings, workshops, classes, and webinars. And where there’s education, there is content. Whether you provide printed manuals for continuing education training, an event website to give members access to conference materials (before, during, and after an event), a digital publishing platform with years of association content, or a mobile event app to get information to attendees (fast!), content is at the heart of education. Even if the continuing education class or the conference session itself is more interactive, the research and main points behind the presentation should be noted and available for review afterwards.

Providing content in a convenient, usable format is critical to the success of your educational mission. We are proud to join you in this endeavor, no matter the scope, no matter how you choose to deliver content to your members. Learn more about our suite of services and how Omnipress can help you association reach its goals.

3 Basic Types of Mobile Event Apps

One of the key decisions you need to make when implementing a mobile event app is deciding which type of app will best meet your objective.

For a meeting planner, it is important to have a basic understanding of the types of apps including the pros and cons as you work with your mobile app developer during the selection process.

 

The following chart breaks down the three basic types of mobile apps:

What It Is
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

.

Do You Need Your Mobile Event App to Work Offline?

Because most mobile event apps will be used extensively within a convention or exhibit hall, it is likely you will want to provide an app that can be used offline. This means you will probably be going down the path of either a native or hybrid app.

  • Both native and hybrid apps will function offline.
  • Native apps have better offline performance but are more costly.
  • Hybrid apps can vary in performance from vendor to vendor based on design. If you go with a hybrid app, make sure you understand functionality around caching of content and how offline performance works. It is likely you will lose some functionality.

Tip #1: Test all demo apps in airplane mode so you can see how the app performs offline.

Will You Be Serving Users With Both Smartphones and Tablets?

When apps are built, they are usually optimized for either a smartphone or tablet.

  • Web-based apps can usually transparently service both products.
  • Native and hybrid apps usually need to be optimized for a device. This doesn’t mean the apps will not work on both devices, but some of the screen layouts, menus and navigation are optimized when built for a specific device.

Tip #2: If you are targeting one device over the other, it is important to notify your vendor.

What type of mobile event app is your organization looking at implementing?

5 Resources to Prepare for the Mobile Technology Takeover

tips for mobile appsAccording to Morgan Stanley Research, by 2014 Mobile Internet usage will surpass desktop Internet usage.

Is your association ready for the mobile takeover?

Don’t worry; there’s still time to prepare.

5 Must Read Resources on Mobile Technology

  1. [Infographic] Mobile Content: Usage and Expectations
    Get the facts on mobile content: What’s happening now and what’s going to happen in the future.
  2. Mobile Technology and Associations – Still Confused?
    Does your association want to embrace mobile technology, but just not sure how? You’re not alone; many associations are still scratching their chins. Here are four things we DO know about mobile technology.
  3. Going Mobile: Websites and Apps
    Did you know more people own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush? Despite the disturbing nature of this fact, we cannot question the importance of making sure the content on your association website or in your digital publishing platform is mobile-friendly.
  4. 5 Reasons to Build a Mobile App
    Need a reason to justify building a mobile app? We’ll give you five.
  5. The Attendee Addiction to Smartphones and Mobile Apps
    Are your annual meeting attendees more focused on their smartphones than your keynote speaker? Learn how to turn this problem into a solution!

Do you know of more helpful mobile resources? Please share in our comments section below!

The Attendee Addiction to Smartphones and Mobile Apps

Are your attendees constantly checking their iPhones during conference sessions?

Don’t worry. They aren’t bored or trying to be disrespectful to your speakers. It simply an uncontrollable impulse!

A 2011 study featured in the journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing shows the average person checks their phone 34 times a day. These checks are not out of necessity, but because they’ve developed “checking habits” where they need to repetitively check email and mobile apps like Facebook. The authors say people like the positive feeling of importance that is associated with a new email or update.

So, how do you compete with your attendees’ uncontrollable checking habits?

Well, you know what they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

Go Mobile with Event Mobile Apps

If you can’t take attendees’ attention off of their phones, then bring your conference where their attention is… their mobile apps! Mobile Apps for events are becoming an increasingly popular way for meeting organizers to keep their conferences and meetings interactive, innovative and engaging.

5 Reasons Mobile Apps Improve Your Events

  1. Attendees stay informed. A mobile app is a great place to post important event information such as location changes, sponsor deadlines and schedule updates. You can even include a RSS feed to your association blog to keep attendees updated on the latest event news.
  2. Your association generates more revenue. By creating an event mobile app you are also creating more sponsorship opportunities! If you’re including an exhibitor listing on your mobile app, you could offer “premier logo placement” where exhibitors could pay a fee to have their logo featured at the top. You could also encourage local restaurants and hotels to include sponsorship ads as well.
  3. Attendees can personalize their conference experience. Attendees should be able to create a profile on your conference mobile app with contact information and messaging capabilities. Many event mobile apps allow attendees to create a personal itinerary including the sessions they plan on attending, and connect with other individuals who plan on attending those sessions as well.
  4. You create a more engaging conference and increase networking. By allowing attendees, speakers and sponsors to create profiles, they are able to easily connect before the conference which leads to greater engagement at the actual event. In addition, you can increase social engagement by sharing Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn feeds on your mobile app. Many conference apps have even enabled live polling/surveying and discussion boards to keep attendees engaged during sessions.
  5. It’s easier to measure conference success. Analytics can be integrated into your mobile app so you can gain insights to attendee’ preferences and behaviors year round. This is yet another great way to measure access to your association content; providing a more accurate measure of your ROI.

What are some of the best event mobile apps you have seen?

Five Reasons to Build a Mobile App

As with any important communications expense, before you build an app for your organization, you need to determine if the app can provide something far and above what the mobile web cannot. Here’s a checklist that outlines the key reasons to do so:

Five Reasons to Build a Mobile App

  1. Apps provide the richest mobile experiences.
    By developing a native app designed for specific smartphone features, you can deliver exceptional functionality that mobile sites cannot. Examples include tapping to a device’s GPS, accelerometer, photos, and microphone. Simply put, native apps can interact with users’ devices more fully in ways that a website cannot.
  2. Apps can deliver offline access. Mobile users are by nature accessing your content on the go, but what if a Wi-Fi hotspot isn’t available? Websites won’t work when you’re offline, but you can build apps to work just fine without a connection. Apps can be made to run without a connection at all (i.e., a convention session scheduler) or to run with content that’s downloaded when you’re online and stored for future use (i.e., a news reader that’s refreshed with new content).
  3. Apps maximize usability. Since apps are developed and optimized for specific device delivery (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.), an app can inherently tap into existing interface tools on each device so usability is ideal (the interfaces will feel more normal to users if they use native elements).
  4. Apps facilitate sales. If you want to generate revenue from app sales, it is easier to go through an existing app store (like iTunes for the Amazon Appstore for Android) where there is already a pay-wall and centralized marketplace. Smartphone users are already familiar and comfortable buying through these marketplaces, and you can tap into the ease of monetization without inventing your own mobile commerce tools.
  5. Apps are ideal for focused content/feature delivery. App are best for content and/or tasks that have a singular or very finite focus (like looking up members or keeping track of sessions at a conference) while a mobile website is more of a general information tool that can cover the same variety of topics as your desktop website.

Keep in mind that creating mobile apps are much different in terms of cost, time frame and delivery to different smartphone devices than building a mobile website, so make sure you spend ample time upfront to determine if an app truly meets your audience needs as well as satisfies your communications goals before getting started.

Going Mobile: Websites and Apps

I recently came across a stat that stated more people on the planet own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush. While I question what this means for the world’s dental hygiene (!), I don’t think anyone would question that mobile content delivery via the web and apps have quickly vaulted into mission-critical initiatives that organizations must address head on.

How can your organization best benefit from a mobile app versus a mobile website? Do you even know the difference between the two?

In this day and age, every organization should have a mobile presence — smartphones are surpassing desktop computers at an astonishing rate, and being mobile-accessible is imperative to be where your audience is accessing you.

A quick overview of the two will help you better understand the right context for building a mobile website or mobile app at your organization and identify what mobile solution is the right match for your needs.

What’s a mobile app?

  • Apps are device-specific and leverage native features on the phones/tablets
  • Usually look and interact in more immersive ways that mobile web (for now!)
  • Apps are usually accessed via an online app store like Apple’s App Store, BlackBerry’s App Word, or the Android Market

What’s a mobile website?

  • Mobile web is accessed via the browser on phones
  • Typing the URL on the mobile browser brings up a mobile-formatted version of a traditional website
  • A mobile website offering can range from a different presentation your main site (good place to start) or a fully mobile-designed version (ideal end game)

Yes, mobile offerings are SEXY! But remember, they are just another communications tool in your arsenal, so be sure to substantiate the return on investment just like any other marketing initiative.