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September 30, 2014

MPI Report: The State of Event Apps




In May, Meeting Professionals International teamed up with event tech company DoubleDutch to survey nearly 1,800 members of their organization about how they have adopted mobile applications as part of their overall event strategy. This week, the companies released the results, which examine how and why meeting professionals currently use mobile event applications, what results they expect, and how they intend to use them in the future.

The Present

Worldwide, events generate more than $500 million in spend each year. In fact, the report suggests that events make up the largest portion of a B2B marketer’s average budget at nearly 20 percent of their overall spending. As marketing departments have shifted their mindset from traditional to more digital practices, the world of events and experiential marketing has transformed dramatically over the past few years, in large part thanks to major advances in mobile technology.

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At trade shows today, attendees carry smartphones and other devices that let organizers better measure what happens on the expo floor, including sessions they’ve attended, which was their favorite, who have they met, and more. 

The digital era is one in which marketers can track virtually any online action. However, this connectivity is also having an impact on our attention spans and patience. (As an example, research has been reduced to a quick Google search on a phone.) Because of this shift in our mentality, meeting professionals must be able to give attendees the same experience at their own events. Event apps give attendees easy access to upcoming session details, speaker bios and more to meet the need for immediate information.

Today, 63 percent of meeting professionals use mobile apps to organize and run their events. According to the research, the primary reason these planners choose to use an event app is to provide more convenience to attendees, highlighting the app’s easy access to session details and streamlined schedule-building capabilities.

As the research indicates, selecting a mobile app vendor typically falls under the responsibilities of the Events General Manager, but may require input from other leadership positions such as the CEO or CMO. These roles also influence the budget these companies have for purchasing and implementing a mobile application. 

The primary reason that these meeting professionals chose to use—and thus budget for—a mobile event app is they have been proven to enhance the attendee experience, which largely determines attendee retention and event success. In short, when attendees are satisfied with their experience they return year after year, and if a mobile app can demonstrate impact on the event experience, it is more likely to find a spot in the budget.

Looking Ahead

In the near future, meeting professionals will expect more features from mobile apps that focus on improving various elements of event engagement, such as live audience response, surveys, and polling. They also plan to integrate mobile applications more deeply into the event strategy, by using it for data-generation, attendee retention, lead retrieval for exhibitors, and event performance analysis.

The report predicts "high growth" for mobile event applications: In the next six to 12 months, a full 85 percent of event professionals seem poised to use event apps. As indicated by this increased adoption rate, mobile applications will be viewed not only as a more convenient alternative to the paper guide, but also an integral component of the overall event strategy and experience, impacting key initiatives such as stakeholder retention, revenue outcomes, and data collection, among other features.

Read the full report here. DoubleDutch will host a live webinar discussing this report on Thursday, October 9 at 11:00am PT (2:00pm ET).


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