What Attendees Want in a Mobile App

August 18, 2013

When your show management team is looking for a mobile app one of the first questions they should ask is “What will the attendees use the app for?”

Every year, a2z Inc. published mobile apps for numerous leading trade shows, enabling us to gain significant insight into how audiences use apps before and during the event.

In comparing data for mobile apps deployed this year for ten events of varying sizes, we found, not unexpectedly, that the No. 1 accessed feature in the mobile app was the Exhibitor List. The Session List and Session Details tied in the second place for the most accessed features.  This in itself does not come as much of a surprise, however; what is interesting is that the Exhibitor Search and Session Search were not near the top of the list. This indicates that users are browsing the Exhibitor and Session Lists, rather than performing targeted searches.  The third most used feature was a tie between the View Expo Plan and Exhibitor Profile pages.

The data also indicates that users are using the apps to build their personalized agendas on their smartphones to use at the event venue.

The popularity of exhibitor screens means that show management should encourage exhibitors to ensure that their profile information is complete and persuasive in order to engage attendees who look their listing up. In the same vein, session descriptions should be inviting and compelling.

Other features in the top ten included the Floor Plan and the Buzz List features.

Our research included various industry segments and an interesting trend for the healthcare industry was that the Session Information was the most popular feature among attendees.  This makes sense for this segment since high quality educational sessions draw attendees to these events.  In comparison, the technology events resulted in higher traffic on the Exhibitor List since these events have strong expo components.

Therefore, based on our analysis, we conclude that while screens for venue information and social media streams provide some value to users, they should not be the focus of the app features.  When designing and promoting the app, event organizers should put maximum focus on the Exhibitor List and Session List. 

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