Ensure that the app provides sufficient social-media integration for your event.
• For the first use of an app, set reasonable expectations for number of downloads, amount of use, and sales or sponsorships.
• Ask to see sample reports for the back-end metrics measured by the developer. These help determine the value of the app for you, the exhibitors, sponsors and attendees.
• Poll attendees, sponsors and exhibitors after the event regarding their use of the app.
The following checklist was compiled by Jay Tokosch, CEO of Core-Apps, who offers some tips for selecting, preparing data for and promoting an event app for mobile devices.
First Steps• Find out what mobile phone platforms your attendees use (Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, Symbian, etc.). Make sure the app will provide maximum coverage for the phone platforms you need, or that it will support all platforms.
• Decide whether you will use native vs. web-based apps or a combination of the two. Native apps require downloads to the phones but might provide a richer experience and should work without 100 percent Internet connectivity. Web-based apps do not require a download and will function with all Internet-ready phones, but they require 100 percent Internet connectivity.
• Know your venue. Most do not provide good Internet connectivity, but some offer free Wi-Fi service. Knowing what is available can help you make your decision on native vs. web-based apps.
• Choose a developer who has experience creating apps for similar events. Be sure to check references.
Consider Content• Decide what content you'll want to provide in the app. The agenda, sessions, exhibitor directory listings, floor map, speaker information and handouts are just some of the commonly used items you might wish to include.
• Determine where all of the desired content currently is stored. Is the app maker able to
get access to every source and experience?
• Determine how the app will be updated, and how often the updates will occur. Do you want the app to update in real time?
• Can the content be imported electronically? How much work will be required to keep it updated?
Seek Sponsorship• Look for sponsorship possibilities offered by the app. Are there opportunities to generate revenue?
• Check out other apps by the provider, and see what has been done by others in terms of sponsorship. Would a similar approach work for you?
Get the Word Out • Establish a plan for promoting the app -- to attendees as well as to exhibitors and event sponsors.
• Consider promoting the app's use on the show website, through direct e-mails and on social-media platforms.
Test It First • Test the app before you buy. Make sure it works on the different mobile phone platforms it's supposed to.
• If you're considering a native app, turn your phone to airplane mode and run the app. Does it work? If your venue doesn't offer free Wi-Fi, this is what your attendees' experience will be like when their internet connectivity is lost.
• Investigate whether the app has an effective means to communicate with your user community, and if it's available beyond the time of the event.