There are plenty of apps out there that assist with all aspects of meeting and conference planning. For example, push apps that “push” information, such as venue maps, speaker lists, presentation titles, sponsors, and city information, directly to the event attendees.
There are a lot of attractive reasons to utilize these tools. For instance, printed material costs for meetings/conferences can be very high. Unfortunately, more often than not, attendees use these materials during the meeting/conference, but may leave them behind after the meeting concludes. Meeting apps also allow for dynamic and interactive meetings. Attendees and speakers can learn more about the other attendees and interact with them online, as well as in person. Apps are great options to offer in conjunction with event sponsorship, and best of all, apps allow you to Go Green!
Apps are interesting and exciting ways to disseminate information for your meeting. However, can we truly rely on our attendees to be technologically savvy enough to know how to download the app and how to navigate through the app to get the most out of it? For many attendees, who already have smart phones, the answer is probably yes. Further, know your audience! If you are doing a meeting or conference for a technology company, you can feel fairly certain that this application would be comfortably navigated. If you are doing a large, international pharmaceutical meeting, you may have some hiccups. Consider setting up a tutorial kiosk or preparing how-to flyers for those who may not be as familiar with using these types of applications.
The downside of using apps for meeting materials is that some people prefer having a physical program/book/itinerary to hold (just as some people refuse to purchase an eReader because they love holding an actual book). Therefore, consider printing up a few copies of your materials, just in case.
If you are considering using a meeting app, but don’t know where to start, try out a free app such as Bloodhound. This way you can test the user metrics without shelling out a ton of money. You can offer the paperless option and printed material option to your attendees, speakers, and sponsors, and measure how many use the online application versus the printed material. If it turns out to be a popular feature, you can consider using it for future meetings.
Have you ever used an app as an alternative to meeting materials? What kind of feedback did you get from your attendees?
**Special thanks to Suzanne Nugent, Conference Assistant at Integress, for her significant contribution to this post.