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This is a guest post by Thorben Grosser. He assisted in the planning of world-renowned film festivals including Edinburgh, Berlin, and Venice.
He co-published the book Event Marketing for Wiley and Sons.
Thorben now works for a popular mobile event app company. You can find him on Twitter or on his website.
Have something to say? Write a guest post.
Event apps are becoming increasingly popular among attendees. The burning question we should ask ourselves is no longer “should I offer an event app?” but rather “which event app should I offer?”.
As an event planner myself, it makes me stop and think, I have to book hotel blocks, collect allergy requests, deal with speakers, and manage an app? Is this really possible? Well, I made it happen. Happy attendees, happy boss, mission accomplished.
Here are 3 quick tips to help you manage your information when you decide to go mobile:
1. Excel and Integration Opportunities
Many apps have features designed to make your life easier. For instance, instead of copying your programme one item at a time, some apps allow you to upload your information using an Excel template all at once, saving you quite some time. Some providers go as far as integrating their technology with other event companies so that registration information flows instantly to your mobile event app.
Ask your supplier:
• Will I, or a member of my team be trained on the content management system (CMS)?
• How many users can access the CMS?
• If there is no CMS, who is my contact person?
2. Plan Ahead
An event app is nothing like your traditional printed guide.
Most apps for example include workflow. With printed guides, you usually are at the mercy of print deadlines and unresponsive vendors.
With a mobile event app, you maintain control. More advanced event app suppliers will provide you with access to a CMS allowing you to make changes and additions to your app in real-time. You usually decide when to add information. 3 minutes or 3 months before the event.
My suggestion is to upload content as soon as you have information available. If you have an accessible CMS, you can always take care of smaller changes later.
Attendee lists might be a lot of data if you were to upload it all at once. By using registration integration as discussed in point #1, you could have attendee profiles auto-created as they register for the event.
Printed deadlines used to be an immovable burden on the planning process. Now you can re-think and regard an app as an ongoing process, rather than a set task.
Again, a phone call with your supplier might help you understand how you can make this work with their particular app, but it’s their job to serve you, not your job to serve the app.
Ask your supplier:
• What’s the lead-time in getting started?
• What level of support will I get?
• How far in advance do I need to finalize my content?
3. Get Team Members Involved
Three more ideas: If you are still printing a paper guide, talk to your app manufacturer if they would be willing to mine the data from your PDFs and Word documents. While this is a quite inefficient process, it will definitely help you at keeping the work out of your sight. If they can’t do it, chances are they can refer you to someone who can.
Even better is to drag your intern away from the copier or coffee machine and let them take care of it. Not only are most interns bright tech-savvy people, but (and I know what I am talking about, having been an intern myself) interns want to take ownership and responsibility, and not only make coffee. In this way you can keep your workload manageable while maintaining overall control of the app and providing your intern with a fulfilling, goal-oriented project.
If you don’t want your app manufacturer to feed the app with data and don’t have an intern to put on it, consider a more collaborative team effort. Some apps allow you to have multiple user accounts. That way, you can split the workload, and have a group of colleagues contributing to the app.
While it might be your job to coordinate the app, it is not necessarily your job to feed information to it.
The bottom line
An app will eventually become a fundamental element of your communications strategy. But it does not need to be a burden. Apps offer you the flexibility that you always wished printed guides had.
So, when you’re deciding on an app, ask suppliers to get on a call with you and figure out exactly what the process is. There are a few different methods and models out there; one of which has been designed to work for you.
An app for your next event is going to save you time, excite your attendees, and impress your boss and colleagues.