How to distribute an event app to your attendees

Posted on May 5, 2015

Once you’ve got your official event app built, you want to make full use of its features. Most probably, as the majority of event planners in 2015, you’re keen to rely heavily on your app’s ability to handle networking and all content.

While it’s fairly easy to announce the app at smaller events, reminding people from the stage that there’s an app to install, it’s a different matter with big conferences or trade shows, where the turnout is counted in hundreds, if not thousands.

Think of access options

There are a number of how you can allow your users to access the app. Depending on your need, a comprehensive app system should enable you to:

  • Protect the app altogether with a PIN number (either one global number, or unique for each user – more on that later)
  • Let people use quick SSOs (single sign-ons), i.e. sign up or log in with their social media accounts, e.g. LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Do everything themselves – via entering email and details
  • Give free access to those who don’t want to sign up – everyone should have access to the agenda and e.g. venue information

Separately, there’s a growing demand for syncing your registration system with the app. It’s the easiest and most efficient way for larger events to have everyone in the app. The mechanics is pretty straightforward here – when you register for an event, your account is created inside the app, based on your email address. The system sends you a password to your email address and .. voila!

Email campaign

Another way of handling distribution is the good, old email campaign. People like getting nicely crafted, personalized messages with information on what they actually sign up for. However, as mentioned above – if you issue each user a separate email/password pair for their account, think of how you’re going to handle the message getting across to everyone involved.

The second classic issue here is that not everybody reads your emails (sorry). Some people will not read them even when they get them 3 or 4 times. You need consider a backup option here for that, otherwise you may face tens of people asking for access on-site! The best option is to provide additional information on the website and conference materials on how to get inside – a comprehensive app system should allow automatic account creation of some sort – it’s best to discuss your preferred course of action with your app supplier.

Word of mouth & other traditional ways

When it comes to getting people in, I’ve seen it lots of times – noboby can attract the attendees to download the app than moderators and speakers themselves. It is especially relevant when you plan to let attendees discuss, comment and vote live during sessions and enable displaying the proceedings on-screen. Once your star speaker mentions that anybody can ask a question and it will be discussed after their session, people tend to get excited and eager to participate. By the way, that alone is a very strong feature for you to get an app, if alone for this interaction.

Other good ways to remind people of the app include featuring it on any paper brochures and conference materials that you normally use. A paper guide, leaflets and banners serve as a good reminder to get the app on their phones and create the sense of necessity, as nobody wants to be left out of the “only communication and information channel at the conference.”

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