If IAEE’s annual meeting and trade show (Expo! Expo!) were any indication, 2010 was the year that the industry “woke up” to the possibilities of mobile. A full house session on mobile apps, a printed and online guide for buyers, and a show floor chock full of developers were the tip offs.
I moderated the session on mobile apps. Panelists Stephen Nold of Tarsus Advon and the MTO Summit and Annie Rotberg of the American Pet Products Association and the Global Pet Expo (read about Annie’s experience with mobile at TSNN.com) addressed a number of topics such as the strategies they used when choosing a mobile app for their events, why they chose a Web-optimized app or a native app, pricing models, and factors for choosing one developer over another. I noted some key takeaways from the session:
- User adoption rates in the first year will be low—attendees are not yet used to having mobile apps in the trade show setting.
- The potential for revenue from sponsorships is not (yet) a prime motivator for buyers—the promise of cost reduction (printing less directories) is a more compelling reason to go mobile.
- The main reason for providing an app is convenience for the attendee—although being seen as a progressive and forward-thinking organization is a close second.
- Apps are available at all price-levels—a simple app built on an existing template can be purchased for as little at $1,500 to $2,500.
- A potential growth area is the aggregation of show service providers onto a single mobile platform.
MeetingTechOnline distributed the Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Apps during the presentation on mobile apps and posted a digital version of the guide on their Website. The Guide covers strategy, best practices, and choosing a provider. It also lists some of the leading app developers in the event space.
And, there were no less than (by my count) 30 third-party mobile app developers, mobile consultants, and suppliers exhibiting their own solutions deployed on mobile platforms exhibiting at the trade show:
The Takeaway: Mobile applications could be the single most useful innovation for the trade show community with their potential to aggregate show services, offerings, programming, and networking opportunities on multiple portable devices.