In today’s digital era, people have the chance to be connected with each other at all times through their smartphones and tablets. Some years ago, when this trend was starting, many wondered if this would mean the end of professional events where people come together physically, rather than digitally. We can now safely say that this has not happened. But why is it that people still prefer to go to events? Why do people still decide to make the investment in time and money to travel to events?
I believe that the answer is in the word “experience”. People are looking to experience a moment of inspiration, to witness a spark of being present in the event with others, connect with other attendees, interact with the speakers and be inspired by live presentations. It’s exactly for this reason that it has become increasingly more important for events to differentiate in terms of how they enrich the event experience of their attendees.
In the midst of organizing an event, planning the program, arranging the logistics, audience engagement often didn’t get much attention from event planners. Today, we see that this is changing, and that event planners realize that attendees seek to get the best possible ROI when they invest time and money in an event. There are many ways for organizers to improve the attendees’ level of engagement in an event. It all starts with a creative mindset and research about what the attendees expect and are interested in.
Technology can play a key role in increasing audience engagement. Mobile event apps offer especially powerful opportunities. We are especially a strong believer that a mobile event app must not be an audience engager itself but instead should support and stimulate audience engagement. And that’s where lies the fine line. You wouldn’t want your audience distracted and occupied with their smartphones throughout the event. That would take away the essence of being together at an event. Features like gamification and social media feed face this risk.
At Conference Compass we have focused our attention on two prime areas: Content and Connectivity. Most of the clients we serve are the biggest medical and scientific societies worldwide. The ‘moment of inspiration’ for attendees of these events is when they are presented with amazing presentations and with content to be engaged with. Our apps are best-in-class when it comes to enabling a smooth flow of content between the attendees and the event.
The other focus area is Connectivity. Our apps facilitate connectivity as a medium for audience engagement. Attendees can easily find information about speakers and other delegates, through email or various social media. We enable asking questions to speakers through the app, to allow for polling, rating and surveys. Through push notifications, the attendees stay up to date with messages from the organizers. Using powerful analytics and embedded evaluation forms, the organizers can learn a lot about the level of engagement of their attendees.
The event industry is quickly trending towards more interaction and active audiences with the transition of ‘attendees’ to ‘participants’ and new emerging event formats. When done in the right way, mobile apps have the power to stimulate audience engagement, but in the end it’s still the creative mind and out of the box thoughts of the event organizers that determine the success of their events.Author: Jelmer van Ast, CEO & Founder