As you know, the Showmanator’s a bit of a trade-show junkie — he lives and breathes events the way other people inhale nicotine … or other substances … It goes without saying, he’s experienced the good, the bad and the plain ugly in his time. … as you can imagine.
You can probably also imagine that includes some memorable and not-so-memorable presentations and at least some of the pearls of wisdom from these have stuck. One such was from a speaker talking about brand consistency who said, “Never insult your customers with a crap experience!”
What a perfect summary of what a brand should not do. In between thinking, “what genius! Wish I’d said that,” the next thought was “what a statement of the bleeding obvious!” But it’s the sort of fundamental truism that it’s all too easy to forget. After all, what is the point of being in business if you don’t put the customer experience at the top of the pile?
In the last few years, the event experience has morphed enormously with the advent of a swag of technologies intended to improve the overall buzz at events and factor in the trending trend (to paraphrase our Social Media guru) that is moving events away from an annual experience to year-round communities of interest.
Mobile apps are one of the jewels in this new crown and the future potential of app power is truly mind-boggling, particularly with the options that QR Codes, GPS, live polling and social media channels are opening up right now. Not only do these types of features offer a great experience, they also open up the potential for genuine cost savings for event producers as they get aggregated into apps and replace a collection of older technologies like hand held scanners. Then there’s the stuff that’s coming down the line … in-app payments, augmented reality to mention only a couple.
But of course, as with events themselves, event apps span the range of good, bad and ugly. The word on the street from event producers the Showmanator’s been hanging with recently is that it’s no longer about ticking the box that says, “we’ve got a mobile app”. The rise and rise of app culture is cutting a swathe through attendee expectations about how they approach events and transact with people. In addition to the desire that there will be an event app at all, which most commentators now see as a given, the quality of the app itself is progressively going to come under the microscope.
One of the key reasons for building native apps, rather than relying on the cheaper and very useful mobile web app, is the intention to provide users with an excellent experience, based on all the cool stuff their smartphones can do. Limited feature sets will work for some events and some audiences, but even that window is closing.
So, when you plan your next event, don’t forget to offer the Rolls Royce treatment when it comes to your event app. Whether you pick a free, fermium or add-on app to your registration package, weigh up the benefits against the costs and don’t disappoint your attendees or give them a crap experience by going for the lowest common denominator so you can tick that “we’ve got an app” box. They will want and expect more than that.