Remember the days when you attended a trade show with a hard copy of the show program and a highlighter? Drawing a pink line over the exhibitors you wanted to visit or the sessions you wanted to attend was almost a ritual—a cathartic process to help you feel productive. Then, everything went online and so much more information became available. The only problem was that you had to lug your computer around in order to use the tools, until the iPhone came along and EVERYTHING changed.
Now, Smartphones including the iPhone, Blackberry, Android and others are the device du jour on the trade show floor. Mobile application developers have made great strides in developing applications that speak to the needs of event organizers, exhibitors, attendees, sponsors and even the surrounding business community. Event organizers have done their part by introducing these tools to the trade show and conference community and helping their stakeholders adopt them.
In recent months I have written about or learned of several of the breakthrough mobile apps for events. Here is a small sampling (I know there are others):
A2Z’s ChirpE allows users to access online show content and synchronizes event details and personal itineraries with Facebook.
Bartizan’s iLeads offers exhibitors such features such as voice and written notes, surveys and qualifiers, and the ability to integrate with Salesforce.com to track the number of leads gathered throughout the show.
Core-App’s Follow Me and Event Host is a native Smartphone app that offers networking, information sharing and marketing features for attendees, exhibitors (and now event planners and venues) including personalized schedules, interactive show floor maps, access to social media tools such as Twitter, coupons from local merchants, exhibitor advertising and digital brochure storage.
The Social Collective is a social networking and community platform that has partnered with mobile application developer DubMeNow to offer customized branding, sponsorship revenue opportunities, scheduling, mapping, functionality across multiple Smartphone platforms (including iPhone, Blackberry, Symbian and Android), one touch mobile-to-mobile exchange of e-business card information, social web contact info sharing, links to marketing material, video and notes, and messaging synched with the customized event social networking platform and Twitter.
Zerista is a full-featured white label social networking platform that is also Smartphone-enabled to offer personalized feed for real-time event updates and check ins from personal contacts at the event, event organizer feed for real-time updates on schedule changes and other event-wide announcements, personalized messaging and networking tools, advanced attendee and exhibitor search functions, personalized schedule builder with public events and personal meetings, integration with and aggregation of popular social tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.
These apps offer event organizers more of everything:
- More productivity
- More money
- More attendees
- More savings
- More “green”
HOWEVER, in order to really take advantage of the interest in and demand for more of the same, event organizers must step forward to enter the discussion and let us know who is using these platforms, how they have benefitted, what new revenue they have earned and how much money they have saved, and whether these new apps are everything they have dreamed of or just cool tools to feel happy about (and get more press coverage for).
Hence, my mission for the MTO Summit in Chicago–to get to the bottom of this issue. As the moderator of the panel titled “Are Mobile Applications of Value to Events?” Chris Brown (NAB), Megan Tanel (AEM) and Rick Calvert (Blog World and New Media Expo) will be prepared to answer these burning questions and I will “help” them do it.
Hey, inquiring minds (like mine) want to know.