Going Paperless: What Every Planner Needs to Know
You’ve probably heard all about the benefits of going paperless at your events. You know you’ll save massive amounts of money on printed programs and other materials, your attendees will admire how eco-friendly you are, and program changes can be made available in an instant.
Savvy marketers also know that more sophisticated apps can actually generate revenue through sponsorships and interactive feedback features. But what do you need to know before taking the leap and moving your conference materials to a mobile platform? Here at Event Solutions, we know first-hand what it takes. After all, we launched our own app for attendees at the 2011 Idea Factory. And it was so successful , we’ll be doing it again in 2012!
One of the keys to our success was our partnership with mobile app vendor ATIV Software. ATIV recently published a white paper titled Embracing Event Apps: Mobile App Essentials for Successful Conference App Implementations. It’s a great starting point for planners who are considering making the move. Here are some of the highlights from this report to get you going.
First, you need to analyze your particular situation, including your venue. Today’s apps are extremely powerful, but if they require good Internet access to function, you could be setting yourself up for a disaster. Many venues are still catching up to the demands of tech-heavy users, whose Internet usage can far outstrip even the best Wi-Fi availability. Make sure your app works seamlessly under the worst Wi-Fi conditions.
Next, plan how data updates will affect users. Will they get updates immediately, or does spotty Internet access mean they’ll have to wait with no app access while the information downloads? Some apps allow attendees to instantly access all the features of the app while the data update downloads in the background. Work with your app vendor to develop the best solution for your audience.
You’ll also need to decide which operating systems your app will run on. Apple iOS currently dominates the mobile market, with 56 percent of mobile subscribers. Add in the smaller Android crowd and you’ll be covering about 67 percent of your audience. Blackberry users only make up about five percent of the market, and their numbers are declining.
How will you distribute your app? If your app is web-based, you simply need to provide a link to your attendees. Native apps, which are developed for specific operating platforms, will need to go through the Apple App Store, which takes additional time for approvals and requires a developer’s fee, or the Android Market, a simpler, free option.
How much time do you have? For a simple app based on an existing data framework, it may only take a few days. Apps that are content-rich and engaging can take eight to 12 weeks to develop. If you’re running on an Apple platform, allow several extra weeks for the approval process.
Finally, you need to consider your budget. ATIV claims that the cost savings of paperless events and the many revenue generation options in apps typically cover the cost of an implementation. Native apps require an experienced development team to endure success and you can expect to pay $5,000 to $10,000 per operating system.
If you want to learn more, you can download the entire white paper at http://ativ.me/espaper.