Pros and cons of event-specific apps

Once many of the preliminary stages of planning your event have been completed, it is likely you'll want to look into other things you can put in place for the exhibition itself. Technology obviously plays a massive role here and there are always new developments and growing trends to keep an eye on, to judge which of them are going to be passing fads and which have the potential to be a real game-changer. One such development that looks to be in the latter category is event-specific apps, which have been exploding in popularity over the course of the last couple of years.

These first seemed to take hold with events such as major music festivals like Glastonbury - perhaps making the most of the young, switched-on audience - but they have soon spread and it's now very common for large events to have their own apps. But what are the pros and cons of these and how do you know if they're right for your event?

Pros of event apps

The main reason event planners consider putting together an app specifically for their delegates is that it helps to get information across to delegates, while keeping them engaged.

If you do choose to go with an event-specific app, you'll be able to register attendees through it, potentially boosting the number of delegates who decide to attend. Make sure your event registration system accommodates this and you could potentially save everyone valuable time. You can also use it as a chance to promote your social media channels, therefore increasing levels of engagement among your target market.

Another of the key benefits of event-specific apps is that they can now be made available offline, which is vital if you are unable to set up a viable WiFi connection at your event. This can be a godsend for allowing delegates to check information such as the time of seminars and map out the sessions they want to attend over the course of your event.

Of course, event-specific apps are not only useful for people who are going to your event. Not all of your target audience will be able to go along due to other commitments, so your app can help to spread your message even to people who can't attend. Consider looking into video streaming via your app so that people can stay in the loop even if they can't be there in person. Real time updates delivered via the app can ensure everyone keeps up with the latest news.

There's a green benefit of event-specific apps as well, as if you get your delegates to look at your materials on their smartphones, tablets and laptops you're likely to be able to vastly cut down on the number of documents you need to print out for their perusal. However, bear in mind that lots of people prefer to have things written down that they can take away to study at a later date.

The main reason event-specific apps are becoming more popular is the fact they help to give your delegates an improved experience - meaning they are more likely to engage with your message and become a supporter and evangelist for your brand.

Cons of event apps

Arguably the main thing you need to consider when thinking about whether or not to invest in event-specific apps is your audience itself. Although we live in a world of 4G wireless internet, smartphones and tablets that can keep us all connected to anyone on the planet at the swipe of a screen, this technology is not necessarily used by everyone so you should not assume your delegates will be signed up to a superfast mobile internet plan with the latest smartphone. If your event is targeting an older audience you might need to rethink your strategy and decide whether an event-specific app would be useful for the delegates.

Event planners will also have to weigh up the cost of event-specific apps and measure the return on investment they are likely to get from developing their own app. Most events will have to outsource the development of an app, which can be a pricey addition to the planning stages, with this cost likely to be passed on to delegates in the form of an inflated ticket price.

Event-specific apps won't be right for every exhibition, but they are technology that is here to stay, so it is well worth considering carefully whether or not they are a good fit for your event.

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