Gerard Lennox, event tech specialist and founder of Xitagy, explores the fast-moving world of delegate apps, set to transform your events, now and in the future.
Event apps are no longer an optional extra, limited to the budgets of big-name events. Attendees now expect the ease and functionality they offer, while sponsors and partners love the granular data they yield on what’s most interesting to your delegates. When seamlessly integrated with your event, they can help to deliver a personalised experience that adds real value to organisers and attendees alike.
As build prices become within reach of smaller events, even the most basic apps will include indispensable features like displaying the show timetable, location maps, delegates itinerary and speaker biographies. More powerful apps provide one-to-one delegate meeting tools, facilitating businesses opportunities and making networking more efficient. Your slick match-making functionality will not only quickly connect attendees with the right vendors, but analyse the connections made and measure the success of your event.
From the organiser’s perspective, an app can provide valuable sponsorship opportunities. By integrating advertising tailored to the profile of each user, your app can help generate qualified leads with measurable ROI, offering organisers an all-new revenue stream. It can also eliminate queueing and reduce the number of check-in staff required, by functioning as an automatic entrance ticket as delegates pass an RFID counter. The app can also nudge attendees into completing surveys, rewarded with drinks tokens that can be redeemed by scanning personalised codes at stalls. Couple your app with near-field communication (NFC) and organisers open the gateway to beacon capabilities, using proximity sensors to create a heat map of footfall, telling you what’s hot and what’s not.
There’s huge untapped potential to augment workshops and keynotes with in-session apps which can be used for live audience polling and interactive quizzes, maximising audience engagement. As one of my favourite tech experts, Jonny Ross said at CHS19, “Attendees will inevitably be on their phones, so why not give them something to look at?” With Bluetooth headphones linked to the app, delegates can select from the range of silent seminars on offer. As you walk past a stand, simply tap to tune it what speakers are saying – imagine, an exhibition where you can hear yourself think!
Save exhibitors money while saving the planet by offering vendors an alternative to printing stacks of brochures that go out of date before they leave the stand. Allow vendors to upload their business cards and documents to the event database before the show. With a QR code on every stand, attendees can download these materials to their phone, meaning no heavy bags to lug around a hot and sweaty trade show. This also allows exhibitors to easily quantify how much interest has been generated and feed into a list of potential leads.
Looking to the future, imagine combining a delegate app with up-and-coming wearable smart technology. Google relaunched its augmented reality Google Glass headset in May, targeted towards business rather than consumer applications. Let delegates set their own schedule of which speakers and exhibitors to see, putting them in order of importance – the app and glasses combining to navigate them efficiently around the show. If you pass a stand that catches your eye, a simple voice command adds it to your schedule. Say a few words about why it captured your attention and they are converted to text for later review, or record a conversation and have it automatically transcribed and stored in EverNote.
Combine your app with the ever-growing potential of augmented reality devices, such as a Microsoft HoloLens placed on exhibitor stands, and delegates can independently interact with the brands they’re interested in, experiencing complex product demonstrations or walk-throughs of a project site without leaving the exhibition booth.
Looking even further into the future, delegates and attendees will be able to upload their profiles to the event database, and by simply scanning a barcode on a nametag with your smartglasses, see everything you need to know about that person. And with the rise of facial recognition, it may not be long before you’re scanning faces rather than barcodes. Prior to attending the show, you could potentially use the app to identify the attendees you want to meet. As you walk around the event, your smartglasses scan faces and ping when they find a match. The rest as the say, is up to you – is this Big Brother or what?