Increase Attendee Engagement with an Event App


As an event organiser you want the engagement of your attendees to be as high as possible. Have you ever thought about how an event app can be a good tool to realise this? Nico Nelissen of etouches explains why this is the case.


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Kevin Van der Straeten
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As an event organiser you want the engagement of your attendees to be as high as possible. Have you ever thought about how an event app can be a good tool to realise this? Nico Nelissen of etouches explains why this is the case.


Hi Nico, welcome to our studio.  


Thanks, glad to be here. 


Today we're going to talk about event apps. What are the main goals to put an event app on your event? 


Right, I actually see 4 different reasons why people would be using an event app for their conference or trade show. First of all, of course to provide basic information. A list of sessions, the agenda of the event, background information on the speakers, a floor plan, all these basic things, I would say. A second reason why an event app can be very interesting is a piece of monetisation. The app can actually help you to earn back a little bit of money. Let me give you an example: through an event app you can provide more visibility for sponsors. You can send out sponsored push-notifications to promote a certain sponsor. You can also put banner apps inside the app. So an app gives you a lot of potential to provide that visibility for your sponsors. A third reason why you would be using an event app is to measure your event. And that's increasingly important. When you measure your event in real-time, you know the health of your event, and you can even calculate the ROI of your event. And an app can play a very important role there. An app is an ideal way of sensing what's going on at the events. 


Do you do that with surveys?  


Absolutely, that's one of the things you can do in an app. You can send out small surveys to your attendees to get instant feedback on the event. Another example is session rating, where you ask people after each session what they think of the content. And so you get real-time feedback on the quality of the content, the quality of your speakers, and you can even use that to make changes if needed. And then the fourth reason, and I think it's the most exciting reason why you would have an event app, is because you can use it to create engagement. 


But how do you do that? Because engagement is the big word on events, but how do you make it happen? 


There are basic things that you can do. Very popular, for example, is live voting, where you ask your audience during one of the sessions, a plenary session, for their opinion on a certain topic. So people use the app to vote and you can share the results in real-time on a big screen, and of course that can stir the discussion. So that's one thing. Another thing is Q&A, live Q&A, where you use the app to allow people to ask questions to a panel, for example. But you can even do more exciting stuff. 


Like what? 


Well, one thing that comes to mind is a recent event, a conference we did, and the organiser really wanted to have something to break the ice between all the attendees. So we used our match-making module where people had to scan each other's badge with a QR code. And by scanning each other's badge, the app would tell them if there was a match, based on their profile. Of course this was a bit of a gimmick, but it was really popular. And what you saw is that people were getting together, getting to know each other, and of course this started a conversation, especially if there was a match, based on their profile. 


But having the functionality in your app is one thing, but getting people to use it is another. 


Absolutely, I fully agree. You need to have a high-quality app but also the communication around that app needs to be well done. We always work with our customers to do that communication well in advance. Well in advance we make sure that before the event occurs, people already download the app on their smart phone, and they basically already use the app to prepare their event. And then at the event of course it is important to keep that communication going, so people know that they can do session rating for example, that they can meet new people... You can also send out push-notifications, so there are quite a few ways of getting that app really used. 


Do you have other cases where an event app made the difference? 


Absolutely, a completely different example I have is on a corporate event, where we used the app to inform sales people. So not just the attendees. Let me explain: for example you have a corporate event, where you invite 1,000 customers. A very important day. Of course you want to make sure that you get the best out of that event. So what we typically do is... In the app we have a different display for sales people. And what they can see inside the app is when their customers, their individual accounts, come into the event. So it allows them to really walk up to them and say: "hi, welcome to the event". So it's another way of engaging attendees, or better: to create engagement between attendees and the sales people of the company. 


And how could an event app help for example proving the ROI of an event? 


That is also a very hot topic, I would say. Of course an event is always something very expensive. So what you really want to do is: you want to be able to measure your event, and also to benchmark. For example: if you have one event each year, you want to make sure: are we improving? How are we doing compared to last year? So calculating the Return On Investment of your event is important, but it's also hard to do. And what you need to do is: you need to measure a lot of things as the event is going on. And that's where we use the event app. So we use the app to measure very simple things, such as the survey results; what do people think of the event? But also: how many interactions did we have? For example: how many people downloaded brochures from the app? All these numbers are an indication of how well we are doing in terms of getting the word out, increasing our customer loyalty, for example. Et cetera. 


What about new technologies, like for example the iBeacons? 


iBeacons are very nice. An iBeacon is actually a very small device that sends out a signal. You can put your iBeacons throughout your event, and what it allows us to do is to know exactly where people are inside the venue, inside the event. Is a person at a booth of an exhibitor or is that person inside a workshop? Thanks to iBeacons we know that exactly inside the app. And we can also use that information. So we can welcome people to a certain workshop, or we can for example ask them to download a brochure of a sponsor when they are at the booth. Also, an iBeacon is again a way of measuring. Because of course through the iBeacons we know exactly where people are at the event, we can measure the foot traffic, and this is again a good indication of what is going on on the event floor. 


Do you see any other new technologies coming?  


One thing that comes to mind is the Apple Watch, or smartwatches in general. They are starting to get popular, I would say. And so one thing that we're doing now is also supporting apps on the smartwatch. So this means that if you have for example an Apple Watch, you can see on your watch what is going on at the event, when the next session is coming up... Where it is, and... Absolutely, so you don't even need your phone anymore. On your watch you can get all the event information. 


Okay Nico, thanks for sharing all this information.  


My pleasure. 


And you at home: thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next time!