by Rob Cartagine | March 01, 2013

• A mobile app can be an evolving tool to communicate with your audience throughout the year.

• Survey and polling functionality provide useful feedback for future development.

• Year-round audience use provides additional value to sponsors.

• Consider native-app features that might not be available in mobile web apps.

read more

Every event app provides basic features, such as an agenda, and most add access to social media. While these might be the primary reasons your attendees will use the app, you can easily turn it into much more. Mobile technology offers untapped potential to engage attendees and generate revenue for your organization. Work with a developer to create something more than a static reference tool. Your goal should be a piece of technology that can be used year-round to promote multiple events and other important content.

Key FeaturesTo receive valuable feedback from attendees, look for survey and live polling functionality, which will allow you to keep reinterpreting and improving upon the app's content throughout the year. Interactive exhibitor maps are another notable addition to assist attendees in navigating exhibit halls during the event as well as provide a reference tool full of company bios, addresses and websites to access anytime. 

A variety of sponsorship options, (splash screens, banners and notifications among them) can help your company generate additional revenue -- often paying for or exceeding the cost of the app. Multi-event apps, or even single-event apps with updated year-round content, allow sponsors to promote new products or services beyond the constraints of the event itself.

Content ManagementA major benefit of event apps is the ability to make on-the-fly content updates. Unlike paper programs, which typically go to print 60 to 90 days before the event, a mobile app can easily accommodate last-minute scheduling changes and other important edits to content.

Apps paired with a robust administrative system -- including functionality for dynamic content changes, push messaging and graphic updates -- give you greater control over what your attendees see. An easy, efficient way to make changes provides peace of mind and ensures attendees receive relevant, updated information during the event and beyond.

Reliability and AccessNative apps (those that are downloaded and installed on a mobile device) offer some benefits not available in most mobile web apps, such as interactive maps and the ability to push alerts. The latter feature can be used to send timely updates throughout the year, reminding users of important dates, promoting new products or sending sponsor messages. Look for apps that emphasize cached content for offline use, meaning most content downloads during the initial installation, making most parts of the app accessible without the need for uninterrupted connectivity.

Apps that use a reliable data delivery service -- ideally on a system with multiple, worldwide servers -- ensure attendees can download the app quickly and efficiently, and receive important updates.

Customer serviceA developer should assess your goals and formulate a transparent plan of action. Will that supplier take care of the development process and offer on-site support? The right relationship can turn a time-consuming, one-off project in­to a year-round resource.