Research shows that meeting planners think a majority of their attendees consider the use of event apps to be a necessary part of their event experience, especially for the millennial generation.

That’s not surprising when additional research indicates that 85 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 own a smartphone.

But for an app to be beneficial for the user and the event planner, it needs to be done right. A bad app experience could be worse than no app at all.

Meet Like a Millennial LogoTraditionally, event apps offer easy access to the nuts and bolts of the event, but their features have evolved far beyond simply saving paper on printing agendas. They can also offer:

  • Highly personalized networking functions.
  • Platforms to foster social engagement and feedback during the event.
  • A place to store expanded information from each session.
  • An avenue to share information with all attendees at once.
  • A way for planners to collect and analyze data from attendees.

Numbers game

But the effectiveness of those functions depends on the number of people who choose to download the app.

The networking functions can be amazing, relying on attendee survey data to alert like-minded people when they are within a short distance of each other and fostering connections that wouldn’t normally be made.

But what if only 50 percent of attendees download the app? And of those, what if only 10 percent fill out the survey? The networking pool becomes more of a puddle.

Quality counts

In order to encourage app use, meeting planners need to make the financial investment in a quality product that is easy to download and use. A report from Oracle Mobile highlighted several reasons millennials would stop using an app:

  • 63% cited poor performance or speed.
  • 59% cited security concerns.
  • 49% cited poor layout or design.

Other options

If you don’t have the staff or budget to make a truly user-friendly app, you could focus on existing mobile-friendly tools, suggested Andrea Robyns, marketing technology director for Experience Grand Rapids.

Using a responsive, mobile-friendly website can be just as easy as an app for smartphone users, and the site exists after the event is over, Robyns said. “People, in general, don’t want to add another thing to their phone – something that they’re only going to use for a short period of time and then delete.”

For networking, Robyns recommended creating groups on social platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. Event hashtags also bring people together.

“It’s something that already integrates into their life and you can encourage members to engage on a regular basis, not just during the conference,” she said. “You can customize alert notifications and tag people for specific input.”

But expectations for event apps will continue to grow and meeting planners should start adjusting their budgets accordingly.

“For millennials, mobile devices are at the very heart of how they interact with companies and with each other,” the Oracle report concluded. “For those that do get things right, the mobile opportunities are plentiful indeed.”

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