In the article, “Meeting Apps: Advice from the Trenches,” Sue Hatch details the account of Logan Fleck’s first attempt at creating a full-featured conference app and what she has learned from her experience. Fleck embraces the advance in technology by creating her own app with the help of QuickMobile for the Pharma Forum, a conference for pharmaceutical meeting planners.
She offers nine helpful points of advice:
- By creating this app, attendees are able to view the conference schedule and key speakers, network with attendees, schedule appointments, join in on polling and surveys and connect with social media sites all on their smart phone.
- Timing is necessary! It can take up to a couple of weeks to get approved by Apple and get approval for copy right information. It is important to plan it right, so that you will not only have it in time for your conference, but also have enough time to promote it.
- Commitment to micro-managing the app on a daily basis. Accept the fact that changes will have to be made.
- In order to access the app, you must be an attendee of the event. Their original thought was to use the first initial and the last name as the username. However, they ran into a problem because some people had the same first initial and last name. By running into this dilemma, they have already planned to use unique usernames and passwords for next year’s conference.
- Attendees were able to poll right from their smart phones. They recommended having two different screens so that they didn’t have to flip back and forth; one screen for the polling and one screen for the presentation.
- Promote the conference in advance! By having the attendees download the app ahead of time, they can become familiar with how it works and ask any questions they may have.
- Have tech support at the conference who can answer any troubleshooting questions.
- Get creative with the app; use sponsors to the best of your ability and enable push notifications to increase attendance.
- The first attempt is always going to be a learning experience. However, for the 2014 conference they can enhance on what they found to be successful, and fix any issues that took place to create an app that was better than before.
Despite the road bumps they encountered, a lot of positive outcomes came about. According to the article, “71% of attendees downloaded the app, the average user opened the app 24 times, and the average user looked at 239 pages within the app” (Hatch 1). With the 2013 conference under their belt, they can take on the 2014 forum with greater knowledge, more experience and a willingness to improve their app.
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