Beyond Features: A More Comprehensive Look at Mobile Apps for Events
At M&IW, we are extremely proud of the fact that we have consistently been a top consultant provider when it comes to making the most out of your meeting and event application. When I took on the role of Director of Mobile Solutions & Strategy to lead M&IW’s initiative, I knew we would need to go beyond the basic app features, utilize our comprehensive understanding of event operations, and dive deep into clients specific needs to create a service that has since become best practice in the industry.
Our process is to look beyond the feature and to not take it at face value. We evaluate the various app sections as buckets of functionality independent from their face value functionality (i.e. speakers, schedule, sponsors, etc.). Thinking about a section in terms of the functions that a module holds, opens a world of possibilities to create something special for the client.
The best app consultancy services think in terms of a three-pronged stool and if one of the legs falls short, the stool is bound to be off-balance and fall apart. Each leg is represented by an area of competency including utilizing a superior app technology platform where the functionality contained within each module is dynamic; the understanding of events and how various event aspects may depend or seamlessly flow into one another; and a keen awareness of our client’s specific needs and overall event objectives. Being uniquely positioned to understand all three components of the three-pronged stool, allows the users to take full advantage of the application’s platform and intended purpose. Taking time to vet and ask many questions about the platforms will allow for a level of understanding similar to that of the technology provider themselves. Combined with a unique perspective on apps and knowledge of how the meetings and events flow, allows for a unique vantage point to craft the apps for a client. In the end, we have not simply filled in the individual features, but a technology solution that solves the mobile needs of a conference has been developed.
To illustrate a best-practice approach consider the following:
Social Features and Social Walls. Consider this feature question, “Does the attendee’s post go to social media with a specific hashtag and then pulled back down by the social wall to display on a screen or does the social wall bring attendees posts over without having to go out into social media?” The first scenario may pose confidentiality and security concerns. Additionally, does the social wall display pictures and text together as it was submitted on the feed or does it separate out various post elements. Based on how these questions are answered determines how the specific feature can be utilized and if the technology is a fit for the specific event.
If we simply check the box stating the app supports social wall and do not ask how, we are short-changing the potential use or functionality. Perhaps an event organizer wanted a social wall, but there were privacy concerns and it was assumed that the posts flowed through social media without understanding the functionality of the feature and because of that basic assumption the feature was not utilized. Where in reality the feature could have been utilized while maintaining privacy if the execution of feature was discovered and right platform selected.
Interactive Floor Plan. If the floor plan features utilize heat mapping or pin dropping to outline the location of a room this leads to other questions that affect the attendee experience with this feature. For example, will heat mapping adequately map a room that is not a standard square or rectangle? If there is a ballroom that is used in the morning for general session, but then breakouts later in the day, how does the heat mapped area handle that layering or is there the need to create multiple maps to illustrate?
When considering a pin system think about the following. An attendee is looking at the maps, can they tell which pin is which and distinguish between ones that are clustered together? This is similar to the pin drop conundrum in a geolocation map section as well as a floor plan section. Does the technology provider have the ability to filter out by type, view in list or search by a particular name? The answers to all the questions, regardless of if it is macro or micro function to the app, affect the way it operates, the attendee experience and the way that we consult with our clients. In short, there is no question too trivial since the answer can have a profound effect on event design and the attendee experience. Knowing the right questions to ask is developed over time and with experience.
Next time you are tasked with implementing a mobile app for your program, consider the following:
- Does the app provider I am partnering with provide dynamic feature functionality and what elements flow together and interact?
- Does this technology solve the three main “must haves” identified in this article that drive our event design and attendee experience?
- Do I feel comfortable with the app, because if not, chances are my attendees won’t either?
- Do I understand and are we utilizing the features to their full functionality to address our event technology needs or are we simply taking the features at face value?
These four simple questions will open a world of opportunities for better communication efficiency, a more engaged audience, and greater return on your next program.