9 Ways Custom Event Apps Increase Attendee Engagement

Read Time: 5 min

I love going to conferences. I like schmoozing, learning something new, and just getting inspired about the work I do every day. But I don’t necessarily like scrambling to figure out where I’m going, what I’m doing, and how to get the most out of it--and that’s why I love event apps.


But considering that I’m toting around a lot of gear (laptop, notebook, business cards, water bottle, etc) and may very well be in a city I’m not too familiar with, I need a little help. The first thing I look for in those event emails and on the website? An custom app, created specifically for that event. I’m talking about conferences now, but I do the same thing for any big event I’m attending, like the Boston Calling music festival.


So why are native apps perfect for events?

They’re faster and have smoother functionality on mobile devices than mobile websites. Being in a crowd is stressful for most people, so when there’s information you need--where a bathroom is, what time a session is starting or a performer is coming on--your attendees want it fast.


There’s a ton of ways you can use mobile apps for events to improve your attendees’ experience:


1. Make it easy for users to set their schedule when there’s multiple tracks, stages, etc.



Events with multiple tracks can leave attendees frequently looking through lists of tracks to find what they need. It’s much easier for them (and for your events team, too) if they can put an easily referenced schedule together for themselves on the device they use most.


2. Send reminders about special or limited-time events with a push.  

Here, Wistia reminds me that they just launched a new product at their conference WistiaFest, and there’s limited time to check out a demo. This push was timed in-between sessions, when attendees were considering what’s next in their schedule. (Extra points for the emoji!)




3. Use location-based messages to tell attendees what's happening nearby.


Sponsor booths, special events within your events, or an afterparty happening nearby--there’s a ton of stuff happening that attendees may want to check out, especially if they’re already in the area.  This kind of highly relevant information is perfect for a push notification triggered by a geofence.


Want to learn more about geofencing? Check out our post on  5 Real-Life Examples of Killer Geofencing Push Notifications.


4. Let your attendees be your hype squad: include a social integration in your app.

Attendee engagement on all the big social networks both drives engagement and creates buzz around your event. Clearly, it’s a big deal. Your mobile event app can integrate with attendees’ social networks so they can easily post, tweet, or Snap your event, with all the right hashtags.


5. Update your attendees about last minute changes in real-time.

It’s pretty much inevitable that something’s going to change last minute. (Ask your event team. They’ve been there.) Re-printing brochures is expensive--and if your event has already kicked off, they might not be ready in time anyways. An of-the-moment, easily updated mobile app means your attendees always have a reliable source of information.


6. Get feedback while it's still fresh.


Events can really inundate you with content. After everything’s over, the details around what your attendees liked or didn’t like aren’t so fresh in their mind. They’ll remember how they felt, but not the specifics, making it tough for you to get real insights for next year. WistiaFest’s app let users submit ratings and reviews right as they experience them, meaning users can recall more detail--so the team gets better insights.




7. Help attendees network.

Kicking off last week, the Cannes Lions are a major event for advertising and creative professionals. Since a key part of attending any event is making connections, the Lions team deeplinked to the Braindates section of their site, where attendees can plan meetups and connect with each other. (Also a great example of creating a seamless experience between mobile apps, and mobile websites.)


8. Use the latest in mobile tech to delight.

A little musical festival known as Coachella (ever heard of it?) created an app with all the practical info attendees needed. Great! But they also made a Virtual Reality app that let users experience Coachella through special filters, letting them find festival VR “Easter eggs.”

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9. Let the users who couldn’t make it in on the fun, too.

Back to the Cannes Lions: it’s a high-profile event--i.e., it’s pretty exclusive. The Cannes Lions app is key for attendees trying to find their way around a huge festival, but it’s a great resource for industry pros who couldn’t make it, too: there’s plenty content highlighting winners, speakers, events, and more.




Your attendees have plenty of brands competing for their time. Your app keeps them feeling secure and engaged at your event--and happy they came.


Successful events can be a major asset for your company. But they’re a big investment. Anything that involves that much detail and planning means the risk of disappointing attendees is greater and might be keeping your event manager up at night. Having a mobile app for your event helps streamline the entire user experience and gives your team peace of mind that your attendees are in the know about everything happening. 

On the attendee side, I don’t necessarily like scrambling to figure out where I’m going, what I’m doing, and how to get the most out of it--and that’s why I love event apps. It’s a win for you and your attendees: When you take out the anxiety around figuring out where to go and what you may be missing, users get to focus on why they’re actually there: to meet great people, experience great content, and build a stronger relationship with your brand.




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