Story by KRISTIE THONG
With an endless stream of event apps popping up in the market, a new technology aims to increase audience participation instead of settling as a mere information repository.
From pre-event web apps to native mobile apps to full-blown, bespoke event apps, interactive technology is now an accepted part of the corporate events landscape. But while their use may be widespread, the true value of these solutions is often debatable. As ever, the key questions facing marketing and communications teams are, firstly, does the technology improve audience engagement and, more importantly, does it add value to the event and represent a satisfactory return on investment?
In response to these questions, some developers are taking a more advanced approach to event apps – one that treats interactive technology as an integral part of the event. This new approach is exemplified by the Dynamic iPad Apps offered by Concise Media Design
(www.concisegroup.com), a global events supplier with offices in London, New York and Hong Kong.
By not only designing a unique app – with whatever interactive functionality the event may require – but also pre-installing it on a fleet of iPads that are hired out for the duration of the event, the Concise system aims to make the iPad the heart of the event experience for each delegate. Beyond delivering presentations and acting as a repository for event information, perhaps the most exciting aspect of this new breed of event apps is the potential for audience participation. In areas such as voting, Q&A and feedback, getting the audience to interact via a touchscreen tablet has big advantages. Put simply, when the process of interacting is slick and simple, audience participation goes up. Hence by providing a more engaging experience for delegates, it can bring major gains in the quantity and quality of data collected by event organisers.
For Concise’s Winston Hammill, it’s all about finding better ways to engage with the audience. “The iPads give delegates the means to leave feedback or ask questions without feeling any pressure,” he points out. “In a situation where you would expect five questions in an hour from delegates speaking into a microphone, we regularly collect over 100 questions via the iPads in the attendees’ hands.
“It’s better for the host too,” he adds. “Through our system, presenters can select which questions or comments are displayed, allowing them to steer the discussion in the most productive direction.” The system’s ability to stimulate interaction is equally marked when it comes to audience feedback, Mr Hammill says. “We’re regularly seeing participation rates in excess of 95 per cent, as compared to a typical 10 per cent when delegates are left to fill in a feedback form using pen and paper,” he explains. “That’s hugely valuable in itself, but the fact that our feedback is digital also makes using the data incredibly easy. Organisers can analyse feedback at the end of each day and react instantly.”
So is this the future of corporate events in Asia? Unsurprisingly, Mr Hammill’s answer is a resounding “yes”. “This is a global marketplace, and once audiences have experienced the potential of this system, they expect to see it everywhere,” he says. “It’s the same for event organisers. Once they’ve used this solution, suggesting they go back to voting keypads is like asking them to go back to the horse and cart.”