Google leads the world in search; therefore, you’d think they would do a good job producing an event app. What is a conference app if not a search appliance used to connect attendees with the sessions, exhibitors and people who matter most to them?

In everything Google does, there is an insistence on it being simple, offering the one (maybe two or three) right answers.

Google’s developers’ conference app consists of just three folders inside one app: My Agenda (all blanks which the attendee fills in), Explore (Session information and Google map) and Stream (Social media). That’s it. It takes discipline to produce a mobile event app (think 3-4” sized screen max), and you need to prioritize and think of what’s really most important. Mobile is a tiny medium, and the hardest part of making this platform central to your event’s experience is keeping it to the nuts and bolts; otherwise, your attendees get quickly lost in the weeds, or worse, will not even bother using the app at all.

OK, we all know this is easy for Google…how about the rest of us?

Guidebook is one of the least expensive (free-$5000) with all the features you would expect. It’s been used by thousands of organizations mainly because it’s possible to get started yourself. However, they do, like the other providers mentioned below, do provide an assisted option for building your app for a higher rate. For many harried planners, professional assistance is well worth the extra cost.

Best Value: Guidebook

A new content management system, easy integration with some popular scheduling and event registration providers, a strong track record of producing apps and a most friendly, helpful staff make Guidebook our top choice for a do-it-yourself conference app.

Other popular app providers are:

  1. Core-apps
    This developer has done several very big shows, including the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) annual trade show. For smaller associations, they have rolled out two new products EventLink and Member Direct, an always on service designed to keep in touch during the year.
  2. Cvent Mobile Organizations already familiar with Cvent’s event registration technology will appreciate the company’s move into mobile apps. The upgrade is nearly seamless, as current client’s can manage everything from the same console.
  3. QuickMobile Quick Mobile’s roster of events is impressive and the company also launched a do-it-yourself hub for event planners conducting many meetings throughout the year.
  4. Zerista  As far seamlessly connecting current content with mobile technologies, Zerista appears to be a leader, no matter where the content is housed. Zerista also has an impressive client roster including the annual BIO conference, an often cited stand-out for combining traditional media with the latest technologies.

A note of caution

These days, all smart phones that have data plans are able to access the internet and most have built in wifi as well. However, venues themselves are no way close to delivering a consistent amount of bandwidth for each event, although most offer some free hotspots in limited areas.

As a work-around, at least the schedule portion of your app must work both offline and online. Google did this with their conference app and most third party app providers allow for this. That is they build their apps to continue to work in the device’s native (stored) environment so that moving to areas of the center without coverage is largely a non-issue.

An app can build excitement for an event with a preview of the schedule, speakers, venue and area attractions. Tell your guests how easy it is to download the app for their particular device and get talking. This is one area where Google falls down slightly in that they don’t bother producing their developer’s conference app for iphones, ipod or ipads made by Apple – only Android. This probably leads to a few complaints, but for their purposes, they’re not losing much of their audience at their own developers’ conference. They also make up for it by making everything available not only in the the event app, but via a dedicated event portal. Google’s conference app’s session content appears across the web, live stream, social media, YouTube, etc.

 

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