Making the Most of Your Event Apps: How to Ensure Your Event Runs Smoothly

This article is designed to foster a discussion regarding the management of event apps during an event and how to effectively manage issues that could occur. We’ve divided this article into before, during and after the event to ensure we’ve covered all the potential pain points during the setup, running, and aftermath of your event.

Before

Take a holistic approach to testing

First, find out as much as you can about the attendees’ devices. If your attendees will be using mostly company devices, you should have a good idea of which devices are offered by your company and in which proportion:

  1. Are they mostly iOS or Android?
  2. Are there any Windows 10 users?
  3. Is there a predominant make or model?
  4. Will there be tablet users?
  5. Will users expect to access the app on their computer?
  6. Will there be users who can’t install apps or have old devices?

Then consider other circumstances:

  1. What happens if your users have network connection issues?
  2. How will your app perform without an internet connection?
  3. What happens if users can’t install the app?
  4. Will you be using any live features, such as live polling or live updates?
  5. How can you users participate in your event if their can’t access the app or network?

By finding the answers to these questions you will know which devices to use for your testing and which circumstances you should test for.

Procure sign off from senior stakeholders

Ask stakeholders to be part of the testing efforts as soon as you have a basic structure and some content on, even if it’s just placeholder content. It will help manage their their expectations and make sure there are no surprises on the day of the event.

Senior stakeholders, especially the technically-savvy, will also often make for “app ambassadors” and help you build excitement amongst their teams.

Engaging stakeholders early can also help them to understand the impact if they do not supply required content early enough – a common issue when your stakeholders are busy or do not understand where their content will appear.

Get users familiar with the app as soon as possible

Communicating with your users ahead of the event can be of a lot of help. Include a mention of the app in every email invite, event page and follow up you send, including screenshots if you have any. If the app is crucial to registration or feedback, do convey that every attendee will need the app.

The best way to encourage users to embrace the app is to promote the benefits for them. This could be networking, interactive features, additional materials, social features, etc. If your users are excited they will use the app more and tell colleagues about the app leading to increased engagement.

Distribute links to the app early

Try to get the app ready at least a week before the event, this will give you time to distribute links and follow ups and ensure at least a majority of your attendees have the app ahead of time.

This is particularly important with events taking place in external venues, as having attendees download the app on a venue’s wifi network will put strain on it and possibly slow down the process.

BONUS CONTENT: Don’t forget to download our Ultimate Event App Checklist – the 28 things you should check to ensure your event app runs smoothly!

During

Avoid making changes to your app during busy event times

If you must make changes, make them at quiet times and give your attendees’ devices plenty of time to receive the updates. Pushing updates during busy periods increases the likelihood of different attendees running different versions of the app, which can increase confusion and increase network load.

A more organized approach is to admit that, although there are sure to be changes to the agenda, rooms, etc. these changes should be scheduled to be made just once or twice a day, perhaps in the early morning or late evening if you’re running a multiple-day event.

If you have urgent changes to communicate (maybe a session that is taking place in a different conference room or a change in lunch plans), use push notifications instead of sending app updates – they do not require the app to download and install a new update. Push updates are usually received by users within a few minutes.

Promote your app during the arrival and registration process

If attendees are waiting in queue they can install the app.

If the app is required for registration, explain to users what they will need to with the app.

If attendees are having problems make it easy for them to find support, try to make the registration process as seamless for attendees as possible. A common way to quickly register attendees if they don’t have the app is to capture their details in a spreadsheet and merge this with other registration data after the event.

Event Apps Promotional

Image courtesy of graphicriver.net (https://graphicriver.net/item/apps-promotional-poster/19537426?s_rank=1) – Websites like graphic river have excellent examples of app promotion templates and brochures, just like above

Have a backup plan for devices that do not work

Many times you won’t need a backup, but it’s important to have one. Mobile apps may not work during an event because of many issues, some include:

  • Connectivity issues (WiFi or signal issues, blank spots and others)
  • Flat battery
  • Old device or not up to date software
  • Broken device
  • Not compatible device
  • Lost or stolen device
  • Have no spare storage space to install app
  • Don’t want to install an app
  • Can’t install an app from an app store e.g. don’t know their app store account details or haven’t setup an account

The simplest and most effective backup is a printed copy of the agenda and other essential materials, such as the list of attendees or venue floor plan. It will ensure you don’t try your attendees’ patience trying to solve technical issues during the event. Events are time sensitive, keeping attendees happy and participating in the event is the most important thing.

Additionally you can also:

  • Have a web app for people who can’t install mobile apps because they don’t have a compatible device or enough memory
  • Make a few spare devices available where the app has been preinstalled that you can lend to people
  • Arrange to have an information desk with laptops where people can access the web version of the app if you want them to register or check-in with the app. Note – security features may need to be checked so the app supports multiple users on the same device.
  • Ensure signage is sufficient on its own to guide attendees to where they need to be

Make sure your support team is prepared

Large events often have a small support team made up of people from the events and IT teams. Make sure the entire team is equipped with the information they need to help attendees who have issues with the app.

A useful rule of thumb for your support team is “help first, solve later”. If you or your support team can’t solve an attendee’s app issue within 5 minutes, help them first (by pointing them to where they need to go or by providing a backup material) and solve the underlying issue later if need be.

Events can be stressful and time critical, backup plans that are reliable and easy to administer will reduce stress and enable more people to be helped.

For example, if an attendee comes to you because her app has frozen or a feature doesn’t seem to be working, you or your colleague could be trained to try the basics:

  1. Force-close the app and open it again
  2. Uninstall it and reinstall it

If neither of those actions fixes the app or they’re taking too long, take note of the issue and the name of the attendee, provide a backup solution such as a web app or paper agenda, and once the attendee is back to participating in the event, document the following information:

  1. What was the problem the user was experiencing
  2. What did you try to resolve the problem
  3. What is the device make and model
  4. What operating system version is it running
  5. What problem was reported

The above information should enable analysis of the problem during or after the event and can be shared with Fliplet to help diagnose the issue. 

After

Follow up with presentations and feedback requests

Many attendees and event organizers appreciate the ease of being able to distribute and see the event’s presentations and support materials via the app – that way attendees can download or email to themselves whichever presentations were most relevant to them.

You can also follow up with surveys and feedback requests after the event.

Remember you can use push notifications to invite users back into the app once the event is over, don’t expect them to spontaneously come back — although undoubtedly some of them will. Which takes us swiftly onto the next point:

When the event stops, the app goes on…

Event Apps Analytics

The above is a typical example of the life of an event app. This particular event took place in the two high peak days, but in the three weeks that followed, the app still had hundreds of views.

In our experience, most events apps will work the same way, so do monitor your app’s usage and prepare to keep the app running for at least a few weeks after the event is over. Consider who will be doing maintenance on the app and ensuring it remains fully operational for the period of time following the event.

Measure success and take note of feedback

After the event is over and the app has lived through its intended life cycle, schedule time to go over the analytics – these are the most telling ones:

  1. Overall perceptions: Qualitative and quantitative feedback from attendees
  2. Adoption: Number of app users during and after the event
  3. Engagement: Consider average number of sessions per user (5+ is ideal), screens per session per user (5.8 is our average) and time per session (Around 2 minutes per session is normal)
  4. Best features: Apart from the agenda, see which features attracted the most screen views and engagement. You might want to consider reusing these features in the future, and even in other kinds of apps
  5. Least used features: The opposite of the above, consider which features were the worst used and try to understand why and how to correct it next time, i.e. by removing the feature altogether, promoting it more effectively, or better explaining it to users.

Reuse your event apps

You can quickly duplicate your app and use it for future events. Make the most of your hard work and the feedback you received to build on your success. When creating a new app you will only need to copy and paste the new content in and tweak the design. It won’t take long at all.

Complementarily, you might want to consider extrapolating any popular features into other apps, such as internal communications or directory apps for use throughout the year: chat, directories and brochure/material libraries are particularly popular as long-term use apps.

BONUS CONTENT: Don’t forget to download our Ultimate Event App Checklist – the 28 things you should check to ensure your event app runs smoothly!