Comparing the Big Bets that Mobile App Developers Make
There are more event-focused mobile applications available today than ever before. New apps in all price ranges, layers of complexity and event categories emerge daily. All of them have more or less the same core features and functionality: conference schedules, floor plans, personal agendas, appointment setting, exhibitor directories, social media access and peer-to-peer messaging. What differentiates the market leaders from one another are the big bets they make on strategy.
DoubleDutch uses engagement—attendee-to-attendee and sponsor-to-attendee—to amass data for event organizers. The application utilizes light game mechanics, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and an in-app social activity feed to stimulate attendee interaction. The interaction generates unique data that allow event planners to tap into new revenue streams. “Every touch in the app,” says CEO LAWRENCE COBURN, “is a clue about where attendees want to spend their money.” DoubleDutch provides applications across all major mobile platforms, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android phones, Android tablets, HTML5 (for mobile web and BlackBerry devices), and Windows Phone.
The Big Bet: Foster as much social interaction as possible in order to uncover useful event data, provide actionable insight and drive revenue.
Planners producing multiple events are the focus of QuickMobile’s newest product. SnapApp is a platform for creating, managing and distributing mobile application features and functionality. It allows planners to use the same platform to design customized applications for all the events in their portfolios from very large, complex conferences to small, simple meetings. SnapApp gives planners control over each application through customization tools delivered at the “master” application level. Unique code enables event organizers to unlock different looks and functionality for each event. The consistency of the apps across multiple events “enhances the overall experience that an audience has with an organization,” says TREVOR ROALD, mobile event technology evangelist for QuickMobile.
The Big Bet: Provide corporate event planners with the ability to design customized applications for multiple events using a single platform.
Developer: GenieConnect (formerly GenieMobile)
GenieMobile positions events—trade shows, conferences and meetings—as rich sources of attendee data that event organizers can leverage. GenieConnect is “an analytics platform where everything can be queried, analyzed and reported on—not just usage stats, but all the event data,” says MICHAEL DOUGLAS, business development director at GenieMobile. This business intelligence helps organizers realize new exhibitor revenue streams, such as “well-profiled leads, benchmarking and performance reports and marketing services,” he explains. The company allows event organizers to develop their own apps on a CMS platform that can accommodate iOS, Android, Windows and the Web.
The Big Bet: Leverage the data from attendee behaviors in a multi-screen/ multi-platform environment to yield more revenue for event organizers.
As one of the original application developers in the trade show and trade association space, Core-Apps established a foothold early and is the mobile app of record for many of the major trade shows. FollowMe is the “meat and potatoes” application that put Core-Apps on the map. Its features and functionality for iOs, Android, Blackberry and the Web have remained consistent while some competitors have moved into more unchartered territories. When asked about strategy and areas of differentiation, Core-Apps CEO, JAY TOKOSCH explains, “I always say ‘my people.’ We have the best customer service and that is why we have a 96% retention rate.”
The Big Bet: Deliver a consistent application that covers the core needs of trade show stakeholders and offer a high level of customer service.
The Big Bet: Offer an intelligent solution to optimize the attendee experience at large, indoor trade shows.
Developer: Avai Mobile Solutions
While Avai’s mobile solutions are available for all types of meetings, the company has developed some unique functionality for outdoor events (rodeos, fairs and car races, for example) and venues such as amusement parks and national monuments, using global positioning satellite technology. Apps created on the Avai Mobile Platform, a cloud-based CMS, can include customized itineraries, maps, wayfinding, parking assistance, directions, people finding, voting, scoring and crowdsourcing. AMP, says ERICH DAHLKE, director of sales, mobile solutions at Avai, allows event planners, facilities and installation owners to build their own native applications for iOS, Android and Windows and for the Web.
The Big Bet: Create an enhanced attendee experience for large crowds of outdoor visitors using GPS technology.
EventMobi uses HTML5 to offer native-like functionality on the Web. In doing so, the company can develop for any platform (and any device including PCs and tablets), bypass the third-party approval processes required for native apps, lower the costs of the solution and increase user adoption. EventMobi also offers a multi-event app builder that enables planners to easily manage hundreds of event apps from a single platform. “They can create multi-event app shells for different types of events, small chapter conferences and large annual expos, and brand each one separately, but still use a single deployment app for all the events,” says BOB VAEZ, president of EventMobi. The company targets corporations and associations with events hosting 200 to 10,000 attendees.
The Big Bet: Develop exclusively for the Web to enhance flexibility and lower the price point, making the platform attractive for small to medium-sized events.
Zerista‘s applications are part of an event management “ecosystem” that begins with the event website and extends out to mobile applications on iOs, Android and the mobile Web. A single platform that hosts the event website and provides the backend for the mobile web extension is designed to enhance engagement before, during and after the event. “The web experience before the event and the mobile extension on site provide organizers with more revenue opportunities [from exhibitors and sponsors] and a single data-rich environment,” says ERIC OLSON, Zerista’s COO. The platform places heavy emphasis on exhibitor success using a virtual booth model in tandem with lead retrieval and collateral distribution functionality.
Because of the sheer number of companies with similar offerings, an examination of core features and functionality will only marginally help event planners differentiate between solutions and providers. The Big Bets—the commitments that developers make to strategy—help organizers align event objectives with developer offerings and make more intelligent purchasing decisions.