77% of people say that when they're attending live events they often (or always) use their smartphones for business. Another 13% say they sometimes use their smartphones, while only 10% say they rarely or never use their phones.
That means that 90% of your event attendees are on their smartphones.
So where are you?
If your organization isn't putting event information where its attendees are, on mobile, then you're not engaging conference-goers effectively. You're losing them to work email and random YouTube videos that they're just using to kill time between sessions. You may even be frustrating attendees who are actively searching for your event information on their phones.
Mobile Event Experience Research
The numbers above are taken from a study titled Great Expectations: The Evolving Landscape of Technology in Meetings, completed by American Express (AMEX) Meetings & Events division. AMEX surveyed hundreds of meeting planners and event attendees to find out how technology is impacting meetings today.
What they found is that nearly every attendee is on their mobile device while at live events, making it critical that you provide mobile event tools to keep attendees informed and engaged.
That's fairly intuitive, though. We know we love our gadgets. What's more surprising and helpful to associations and businesses are the other findings from AMEX's study. Instead of needing multiple, complex mobile event tools, AMEX's study found that event attendees only wanted to be able to do three main things on mobile.
Here are the three features that your mobile event experience must have to be successful.
Top 3 Features Event Attendees Want on Their Mobile Device
Feature #1) Agenda and Personal Scheduling
Agenda and scheduling tools were by far the most important mobile event features to attendees. In AMEX's study, 79% of attendees stated that access to a meeting or event schedule was extremely important. 75% responded similarly for access to session descriptions and 64% wanted the ability to create a personalized agenda.
Make sure your mobile event tools include comprehensive agenda options including:
- A full event schedule
- Session descriptions
- The ability for attendees to add and remove sessions from their personal agenda
To provide an even better experience, you can also include speaker bios, which 51% of attendees noted as an important mobile feature.
Expert Tip: Agenda tools are unique in that attendees will likely access them from a variety of devices, including work computers as they prepare for your event.
To give these attendees a truly unified digital experience, make sure your agenda tools are the same across all devices and work on all operating systems. That will allow attendees to review their schedules from computers, tablets, and smartphones without having to learn a second set of tools.
Feature #2) Updates
69% of event attendees said one of their top priorities was easy access to updates from meeting organizers. That makes event updates the most popular mobile tool after agenda options.
A likely reason why attendees are so interested in updates is their busy schedules. If anything changes with your event or its agenda, attendees need to know so that they can update their own schedules to arrive at the right session at the right time.
Give your attendees fast, easy access to updates so that they can quickly scroll through the changes that are relevant to them. Then, make sure that your agenda and scheduling tools are in the same mobile toolset so it's painless for event attendees to adjust their schedules based on updates.
Feature #3) Networking
According to AMEX's research, 63% of event attendees want the ability to network and share contact information with new connections they meet at the event. 60% also want a directory of attendees. To further put those numbers into perspective, remember that AMEX isn't the only organization whose research has highlighted the importance of networking tools.
The 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report also found that networking was essential for members. In fact, it was the number one reason why people join membership organizations in the first place. All of that makes providing networking tools essential for both membership organizations and businesses, whose customers are often interested in making connections that will improve their careers.
To meet attendees' expectations, create a mobile event experience that makes it easy for people to connect with peers and experts. You could provide options for attendees to automatically send their contact information to peers, or make that contact information easily accessible after the event ends, for example.
Many event apps and microsites do this by sharing attendees' profiles, complete with contact information, professional titles, and photos to help attendees remember one another.
Expert Tip: How often have you met a colleague at an event and never contacted them afterward? To make networking an even greater benefit for your attendees, help them overcome this problem by providing lasting connection options. One way to do this is to integrate your mobile event experience with your private customer or member community.
When your online community is connected with your event's mobile tools, attendees won't just have one another's contact information, they'll be connected in the community they use every day, week, or month.
They'll be able to see their event connections online, review what activities they've performed, and interact with them through discussion forums, blog posts, and private emails. That makes it less likely for new connections to forget one another, providing lasting networking benefits for your event.
Takeaway: Mobile Event Features that Attendees Want
Your event attendees won't automatically love any mobile tools you give them. They have their own priorities and concerns, so you need to dig into what your customers or members are really interested in. Event agendas, updates, and networking tools are some of the top options.
Event attendees expect you to provide these types of mobile tools. They expect you to look into their needs and preferences, providing what they care about most.
However, that doesn't mean that you can't go above and beyond. Attendees want information and tools that help them get value from your event, but if you can find ways to transform that value into long-term benefits then you'll really blow your attendees away.
Build out your mobile tools with that in mind. Ensure that your mobile event experience meets your attendees' expectations and gives them a little something extra. It's one of the best ways to not only make your event's mobile experience useful, but to ensure that your event as a whole is successful.