The following is a guest post by Jenise Fryatt.
Bob Vaez has been at the forefront of event mobile technology almost from the beginning. With more than 10 years experience managing and developing some of the worlds advanced systems for startups and Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley and Toronto, he got to know the technology pretty well.
Then in 2009, after attending a major tradeshow, the combination of inefficiency in using printed show guides in one hand and the capability and ease of use of smartphones in the other led Bob to the creation of one of the first device-agnostic mobile event apps in the industry. EventMobi is now one of the most widely used mobile event apps enhancing attendee experiences and providing value to event organizers, sponsors and destinations alike.
As founder and CEO of EventMobi, Bob will be sharing tips on event mobile strategy in a session at Event Camp Twin Cities this week. I recently asked him a few questions about this topic and what he will be sharing during his session.
JENISE: What is a mobile strategy?
BOB: Every once in a while we encounter a new technology or tool that disrupts the way we do things. Just a few years ago using your phone at a meeting or conference was considered rude and annoying to the people around you.
These days smartphones and tablets are devices that let us capture information, take notes, share content, look up important facts and figures and are definitely here to stay.
If event planners are going to encourage, and take advantage of such tools to enhance attendee experience and sponsorship packages, mobile strategy needs to be carefully planned and executed.
In order to be successful, the right technology should be selected to match the requirements, demographics and budget of the event. Furthermore, effective communication about the technology sets the stage for high usage and adoption of mobile tools to ensure optimal benefit for everyone at the event.
JENISE: What are the ingredients of a good mobile strategy for an event?
BOB: It’s important to remember that mobile apps are just another piece of technology that can be used to accomplish your event objectives. So it’s imperative to start with the event experience and the main event goals and objectives before diving into selecting a mobile app.
A complete mobile strategy needs to take into account the resources, timeline, sponsorships and budget of the event, as well as expectations and experience level of the event audience with mobile technology. These requirements along with the main objectives of the event will determine what features should be included and how the mobile technology will be used at the event to enhance attendee experience.
JENISE: How can planners avoid a bad experience when applying a mobile strategy?
BOB: Envision the day after the conference or event and work backwards. Ask yourself: how many people wanted to use the mobile platform by the end of the event? What were the benefits of using the platform and how did you encourage usage? Were your sponsors happy with the level of exposure you promised them? When did you launch the app and how was it communicated? What was the profitability from the app and how much time and money was it worth spending?
If you plan ahead by thinking backwards and align a series of realistic expectations, you can prepare your attendees, sponsors and staff for what this new tool will bring to the event and what kind of change in budgeting, planning and logistics everyone should expect.
Really ask yourself “why am I creating this mobile platform?” The answer should not be” “because everyone else is doing it.” The real demand for adopting a mobile strategy should come from attendees and sponsors of an event. Avoid making decisions based on the “new and shiny factor” and instead focus on the potential benefits of the platform: sponsor visibility, reduction of printed material, greater attendee engagement and of course a tool that helps move your events or meetings into the 21st century.
Finally, many planners have seen mobile strategies backfire because they did not check mobile coverage at their venue. This is regardless of the technology choice such as native app or web app or a hybrid HTML5 solution. If you are going to encourage social media sharing, use any interactive functionality of mobile devices, or ask for audience participation a good WIFI or 3G data access is a must.
What do you hope participants will take away from your presentation?
I think it’s mission accomplished if attendees leave the session feeling more knowledgeable about the process and what questions they need to ask in order to implement a mobile strategy for their event. We will cover the basics such as “Why and when do I need a mobile app for my event?” as well as the more in-depth questions regarding the technology choices, usage numbers and useful features.
Jenise Fryatt’s blog Sound n’ Sight covers events industry thoughts and features with an audio visual and social media bent. Jenise is also co-owner/marketing director of Icon Presentations Audio Visual for Events located in Southern California. She describes herself as an “events industry cheerleader” who is also a yoga and improv devotee trying to stay in the present.