#For Apps Sake: Event Apps, are they worth it?

This digital story addresses the topic of event apps. Phone applications have increased substantially in previous years. By 2011, there were over one million apps available, with users spending a huge 87% of their time on mobile applications!

Watch the video below to uncover the pros and cons of event applications.

We hope you enjoyed hearing about our contemporary issue. Please comment on this post with your views on event apps and whether you think they are an important investment.


Lucy Broad says:

I think it purely depends on what you want your app to do, if you only need it during a specific event, for features such as an interactive map or or timings of mini vents in an exhibition, or simply a business card scanner, then they can be quite useful and you could even outsource it for free rather than pay to develop your own.The login information of that persons email can then be used on a computer database to contact them again to inform them of your other upcoming events. however, if you’re a event venue with an app, it may not be as useful because the utility of the app could fluctuate if each event organiser doesnt get on board with it equally. Which could then look bad on your venue. Also you have a problem with attendees deleting the app as soon as they’ve left the venue for the sepcific event they’ve been to: you’d have to find a way to maximise your time with them on that contactable platform.

forappssake says:

Very interesting opinions Lucy! We had considered that using an existing app template may be a popular choice to avoid the big costs. Do you think that this may limit the use of the app and its return on investment?

SarahLouKyte says:

Lucy has highlighted an excellent point – event apps are very likely to be deleted as soon as the event is over. If I am creating an app for a specific event, I want it to be useful for attendees from the events’ conception, delivery and beyond. How can event apps be used to engage attendees after the event, and therefore decrease the chance of the app being deleted?

sianprior says:

Reblogged this on #For Apps Sake and commented:
An interesting point deserving some discussion: Get involved!

Fergus Bruce says:

I work for a large telco company, every year we run a week long conference where the entire company of 10,000 + employees attends. Last year we created our own bespoke app which was a huge success. Every delegate had to download the app and included in it was a bespoke timetable for each delegate with timings and locations for the day. There was also a live voting function, where during sessions speakers could open the floor to votes, this was a great interactive feature which worked well. Each delegate could also post ‘statuses’ and interact with other delegates, which created some great debate and build up to events. It was a fantastic platform for us as organisers to push important messages to delegates mobiles. Are they necessary? No, but they added hugely to our event. Do they distract? Not if they are managed in an appropriate way. Did they enable engagement and networking for our delegates? Absolutely, in a far more effective way than has ever been acheiveable previously.

forappssake says:

Hi Fergus, Great to hear you’ve have a good experience using your bespoke app!
I was just wondering, I’ve heard from other conference organisers they find it difficult actually getting their attendees to download and use their apps. Have you got any tips to ensure that the app’s are being utilised as successfully as yours has been? for example, did you promote the app so attendees had it downloaded prior event or was it a case of downloading it on the day that the beginning of the event?

Sian Prior says:

HI Fergus,
Great to hear you’ve had sucess using an event app. What made you deide to use this communicatin route in the first place? Did you use an external company or derive it yourselves? Is it your opinon that the time and people cost of creating an app means, at this point in the industries’ development, they are limited to having a successful use for only larger companies such as yours? Do you have any advice for thse of us in smaller businesses looking to make the most of this new technology?

Kylie S says:

Interesting video! Although I wouldn’t necessarily say that apps for events are essential to its success I believe that it would have a positive impact… if there is an app for a website I regularly use I would more than likely download it if it was free.

forappssake says:

Thank you for your thoughts Kylie.

What is your opinion on the advances of technology of event apps? Do you believe that in the future event apps will be the norm?

Juraj Holub says:

Nice video! Event objectives always come first. Event technology should be just a means to achieve those goals. There is nothing worse than using the tech for the sake of using it.
So identify your event objectives first and then find the solution that will help you to fulfil them.

I elaborated this topic with other event profs on http://blog.eventbrite.co.uk/evaluating-event-technology/#sthash.T4u99Mjf.dpuf

forappssake says:

Thanks Juraj, also very interesting link. Your 4 top tips for evaluating event tech is well worth noting while thinking of an event app.
As a member of Sli.do have you ever encountered any difficulties? for example
your article mentions Wifi being the lifeblood for events focusing on audience interaction, Im aware in a few major venues within the UK providing Wifi dont have the capacity to support events when they are in full swing. Have you have suggestions for event managers to overcome this problem when the event is underway?

Matt Francis says:

Apps are expensive to produce? YES. Asking an app agency to produce your app is expensive? YES. Increasing consumer spend at live events is a conundrum? YES. Effective data capture in a live event environment is difficult? YES

I work for an app-based data transaction company and we answer all of the above. A brief summary of the business model is as follows:

We produce mobile apps at NO initial charge to the B2B customer ——> These apps focus around three key areas: Data capture (through Facebook login), Engagement (essential event information, polaroid selfie taking, digital programmes), and transaction (enabling users to pre-sale on tickets, redeem bundled/discounted merchandise/F&B exclusively through the app. Payment is then made through their phone using Paypal/card and items are then collected at a specified point, or delivery to seat/home). ——-> A transaction fee of 10% is taken on all at venue purchases (with the proven assumption that streamlining and easing the at-event purchasing process will increase revenues, and greatly reduce queues).

This then builds up a user profile, allowing the company to build up ‘big data’ and the chance to examine at venue trends such as ‘which gender purchases the most drinks during a specific time period, which product type appeals most to 50 year old males, why do 50% of 25 year old women abandon purchase at check out’.

Its these insights which then allow specific targeting, whether it through timed and measured push note campaigns, email or SMS marketing.

Example is as follows: INSIGHT: 25% of 50 year old males abandoned a Strongbow purchase at app checkout. ACTION: Target these users through a push notification campaign whereby users are offered 15% off a pint, with delivery of this drink to their seats’.

Going back to my initial point…

Apps are expensive to produce? NO. Asking an app agency to produce your app is expensive? NO. Increasing consumer spend at live events is a conundrum? NO. Effective data capture in a live event environment is difficult? NO.

Truth is, the mobile phone is focal to the 21st century event experience, be it during an interval or pre-show in the queues – Engaging and relevant news content is great – But if you’re paying for an app to be built without looking to monetise consumer app usage in ANY way…

You might as well just buy a big screen TV and post the weather on it.

forappssake says:

Thanks Matt, this is really interesting and gives a great insight into the usage of apps!

Jo says:

An interesting video raising an interesting debate. There is definitely a sense that an app is the answer to customer engagement, especially if those running the event are generation X and the customer is generation Z! I think that event specific and therefore potentially disposable apps are a great addition to an event offer but not of great advantage to the event organiser or meaningful in a revenue generation sense. As people have said the purpose of the app has to be clear to enable its success and that is the really difficult bit!

forappssake says:

Hi Jo, thanks for your thoughts, its true that apps are more commonly used for customer engagement, but do you think that this is the main purpose? we’ve heard about the benefits of apps providing organisers with marketing data aiding in decisions for future events, catering closer to the audiences needs. would this not indicate that apps can be an advantage to event organisers? what are your thoughts?

frankie mounsor says:

Hiya well i don’t really use apps exp for my online banking , i find them slow and fiddlely to use offen going on the companys website it much easyer and clearer plus the more you have the more battery and mobile data they eat up. So i think personally that they won’t make a massive impact in the event industry,as people know which websites and use google too seek the imformation they need and would generally feel better talking to a person rather than do it through an app if you were booking somthing for example.

forappssake says:

Thank you for your comment Frankie, some great points!

Due to many organisations using apps e.g. on-line banking, do you believe that a lot of event apps are purely being created to stay in line with competitors and the future of technology? And that if not thought about properly, can create a negative impact for the organisations involved?

Boomset says:

As an event app, I will agree when I say that you need to know your needs and objectives from the event. Definitely keep in mind how important data is not only for a current event, but for the production of future events.

At any rate, a reliable, efficient, and effective app will facilitate enhanced event success in the end.

Great video!

forappssake says:

Thank you for your kind words on our video! It is interesting to hear your thoughts on apps, as an event app, and that with the right positive strategic direction they can be successful!

mhairi smith says:

Great video. We are looking into the pros and cons at the moment. It would be great to have one for our large events, better for the public but means we would lose income on programme sales. It would be really useful if it was interactive and gave us feedback.
I used one for the Bath xmas market last year and it was really useful. I do think it’s the way events are going to go in the future, but they need to be affordable to create. Thanks for the video, it really helped us and gave us lots to think about.

forappssake says:

Thank you Mhairi for your kind words.

An event app engaging with customers is a fantastic way to gain feedback! It’s great to know that other people have been examining the pros and cons. I hope our video has helped you discover a greater insight.

Dennis537 says:

Fantastic video, which really gives an insight into whether apps are worth it.
Personally, I have never been in the position of developing an app however, having worked for hotels in trouble, I am bought in to try and improve the company.
There is a sense of pressure due to the market for apps being constantly inundated, particularly from your competitors.

forappssake says:

Thank you for your kind comments Dennis! We are glad you’ve found it helpful and thought- provoking.

In line with your comments about pressure from competitors in the industry; do you agree that some apps are poentially being developed purely due to the fact of staying in line with competitors? And that these decisions, made for the wrong reasons, can have a negative impact on the industry standards as a whole?

Dennis537 says:

There is potentially a possibility of businesses making bad decisions, taking into account apps would take a while to get up and running as well as developing.

However, particularly hotels may think using social media i.e Twitter as well as their website, will draw enough traffic, therefore they may not think it is necessary to have an app. Just a thought.

James Beck says:

We’ve produced many apps in the event space, normally these are born out of requirements or goals to improve data-capture, efficiency, delegate coverage, lead generation, carbon footprint, etc. And although sometimes hard to quantify, if executed well, these apps are nearly always a worthwhile investment.

However, on more than one occasion, clients have come to us simply wanting an ‘app’. Typically, they want to demonstrate technological competence to their clients and/or prospective clients. Whilst these forced purpose applications run the risk of being throw-away gimmicks, they can still have huge value.

Event apps are not always a good business decision, but it’s not always as simple as measuring leads generated or emails captured.

forappssake says:

Thank you for this James, very interesting point. Looking on your website, we have noticed your company engages with businesses in app/ website development using extensive experience to help turn ideas into success getting a whole day’s worth of your time for free.
Has this been popular with businesses interested in getting free expertise to help the development of their apps?

Kateema says:

I think that event apps help in the way that people can easily access Relevant information regarding the event such as buying tickets and for the sake of a music event you can have information on all the bands and links to their previous work in an easy compact app.
I think the downside is the time and money it takes to make an app and for some events it would be for a one off use.
Another pro is you could easily share your app and could link it to use Facebook on Twitter – hopefully having more people and becoming aware of your event and. Ompany

forappssake says:

Some great points about the positives and negatives Kate!

So do you then feel than, within the music industry side of events specifically, that an app can be worthwhile for a business?

how would you like to see APPS used in the future? Are there any examples you’ve experienced of good event app usage we could ll learn from?

I am on the board for a youth theatrical company (BYT) based in outer London. We are a registered charity and currently run an annual show with links on the West End. I specialise in their costume department, from which we also run a hire sevice to bring extra money into the charity.
I do have an I phone and I do use apps to book favourite restaurants, get good ticket deals etc but not sure what a BYT app would be used for ….. Selling tkts for their show? With a hell of a lot of work we could maybe develop an app to allow people to hire costumes from us? Would BYT need an app so members can access info about rehearsals? This can already be done through web site or more often than not FB!
So whereas your video makes a good point for the future of events. Do we really need one?
As a charity perhaps the costs would be too high for us.

forappssake says:

Thank you for this Wendy. You raise a good point questioning whether an app would be beneficial, particularly for a charity due to costs. The debate of the usefulness of apps is questionable, due to many people saying they download apps and never use them. So maybe Facebook or your website would be utilized more than an app. However. could an app could potentially get your business noticed and be used a an alternative marketing tool?

the app would need to be very business dependant, it’s good to use for contact details and text items, but in my business i find a mobile enhanced website is better for displaying the extra services we offer for example peoplr prefer to see larger images that an app may not offer. you also need to get people to download the app where a website is live 24/7, i found when i was test running an app with high website hits the app got downloaded twice.

forappssake says:

Thank you for your comment Kev!

An interesting point on apps being very business dependant and an insight to the differences and positives of mobile enhanced websites. Do you feel as though getting people to download the apps is a huge marketing task in itself?

JoannaR says:

My company uses an app. We provide confering online. But also we help stream live events. So big charity events for example used for brand awareness can be streamed live for those that can’t unfortunately travel (for many reasons).
Gardner has provided intense research on IT and what is being used etcc the trends are clear. Everything is moving to the smart phone /tablets. People can now stream these live events on our apps. Your company will be behind if it doesn’t invest in an app.

People are more likely to join your event, or at least more about your event if you give very easy access to the event.

Karen Pearson says:

Apps are definitely the way forward for larger events attracting an apphappy audience. The challenges would be make sure the non appers are catered for as well. For data collection they are invaluable. To be effective on the event site it would be necessary to have wi-fi to allow everyone to use the app.

forappssake says:

Thanks for your response Karen. It’s great to hear your enthusiasm for Event Apps. What would be your top tip for App creation?

Tom says:

It would have to be very business related but I think this is an impressive point. To compete with other similar companies – an app is absolutely essential. It is 100% worth the time/effort/financial commitment to produce.

forappssake says:

Thanks Tom. Do you ever find once you have downloaded an app that you use it less and less or do you use apps for everything? Would you say there main purpose is to compete with other companies?

Anne Clarke says:

I use Apps for everything, ordering products, registering products, notifications to governing bodies, in fact apps for everything. We all used an App at a recent national business awards and I was involved recently in judging companies whom had developed ” A best App”.
They are quick, easy,link everyone together for a given time when time is of the essence and can be very cost effective.
I tracked my son running the whole of the London Marathon via an app- all those thousands and thousands of people, really fantastic!
If the Apps good it will work…

forappssake says:

We appriciate your comment, Anne. That’s a great point, many people have smartphones and are able to view/ download apps for everything! It’s also interesting that you attended a national business awards where there was an award for the best app. There is definately a lot of competition!
What is your professional opinion on what makes a sucessful app?

Anne Clarke says:

I’ve been involved with lots of awards- I attended a national business award where we all used an app as part of a pitch and panel discussion for the young entrepreneur of the year for the Duke of York.
I am also a judge for some of the top companies in the UK- whom at a recent separate award two of the finalists presented to me fabulous Apps..
Successful Apps are all about current market demands and trends. The most simplistic can sometimes be the most impactive and the most successful ….

Elizabeth Tomkinson says:

Apps are great as an extra but they can’t replace a traditional event guide or face to face conversion.
As an events company we use apps at a number of our events but we use them to enhance the information that we already have, they don’t replace anything. Delegates much prefer a paper event guide. They might like the app to set reminders for workshops they want to attend but the majority want a hard copy they can take away with them.

forappssake says:

Thanks for your comment Elizabeth. You raise a very good point, a large number of people may prefer hard copies rather than apps. Do you think the use of apps as an extra rather than a necessity changes the way you gather data at events?

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