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Posts from the ‘mobile’ Category

Mobile: What is Your Favorite Event App?

Mobile Apps are changing the way that we communicate, collaborate and share in the same way that the internet did 15 years ago.

Here’s a quick example.

While I was searching for a new house, I would drive through different neighborhoods to see if I liked the area. Then, I used a mobile app to help me find homes that were available nearby.

Mobile Home Search MapThe app displayed homes that were for sale on a Google map interface that included a “you are here dot”. This location based feature allowed me to quickly see what was for sale nearby AND do a quick check for “curb appeal.”

If the home passed this first test, I would tap on the screen and the app showed me 10 photos of the inside. If I liked the home, I would forward the MLS number to my real estate agent and ask him to arrange an appointment. I could do all of that sitting in my car with a few taps.

This single app brought together my location, a map, a searchable database of the homes for sale on the market AND the photos of those homes. The information was available at my fingertips, when I needed it and where I needed it AND it was easy to use.

What Could this Mean for Events?

Think about the possibilities in the context of a large meeting, conference or festival.

What kind of information would be useful to have in the palm of your hand at an event? Think about standing on a tradeshow floor looking for other attendees, or booths. Think about sitting in the conference room with 800 people listening to someone rattle off out of date statistics – that you know are wrong. Think about being at a festival and figuring out how you get to the next venue. Or think about being at the State Fair — where is that Deep-Fried-Snickers-bar-on-a-stick vendor?

The possibilities for attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and organizers at events are numerous.

What is Your Favorite Event App?

Mike McAllen and I are collecting a list of event apps for the next episode of our Going Digital podcast. If you have any meetings or event based mobile applications that you would like to share with others – please send us an email at meetingspodcast at gmail.com or leave a comment below.

We would be happy to talk about your favorite apps on our show AND give you all of the credit!!

Inspiration for Your Shiny New Event App

application examplesOver the past few months, I have been collecting smart phone apps that I think are doing “cool” and “innovative” things in my inspiration folder.

While I haven’t found any “event” app that seems to pull everything together in “just the right way” – I have found several event apps that are worth checking out. In fact, if you could mash the best elements of these apps together – you could have an awesome event app. Today, I want to share a few of these apps with you.

Without further ado, here are five event apps. that I hope provide you a little inspiration.

Vancouver Olympics 2010

> Which Event: 2010 Vancouver Olympics

> What does it do: This app was designed to be an Olympics guide that fit into the palm of your hand. It provided a real time schedule of events that was searchable and sortable by venue, date, event type, etc. It used the phone’s geo-position capability to help users find their way to venues, etc. Finally, there was a live Medal scoreboard and news stream that helped you stay on top of the latest news.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I thought the user interface was innovative and well done on this application. While I was writing this post, I learned that if you shake the phone while the app is on – it will show you different videos. Cool. (Don’t ask me why I was shaking my iphone!)

Meet Different 2010

> Which Event: Meeting Professionals Internationl’s North American Education Conference (called Meet Different)

> What does it do: This app provided a real time schedule, links to social tools, speaker profiles, etc. Some of the same stuff as above.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I liked how this application bridged the social applications (Twitter, Pathable community, etc.) into the application.

March Madness on Demand

> Which Event: 2010 NCAA College Basketball Tournament

> What does it do: This app provided a status update on all games, streamed the radio broadcasts and live video broadcasts from the games. Also, it linked personalized content just for me on the NCAA hoops website. Finally, the application sent me notifications that told me when games were close OR when a potential upset was about to happen.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: The live video and alerts (also called push notifications) were awesome here! You could select different types of alerts that you wanted to receive. Then the application would send you these little “heads up messages.” I think this could be a useful way to send attendees special update messages like “You better get to the lobby! The bus is leaving in 10 minutes.”

NOTIFICATIONS SCREEN

MTO Summit Chicago

> Which Event: Meeting TechOnline Summit Chicago

> What does it do: This app provided a schedule for the event, personalized schedule, link to speaker profiles, exhibitor information, session feedback forms, twitter stream and the exhibitor guide.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: The personalized schedule was very useful. I could select different sessions from the event and include them in my schedule. It was very easy to do and I could see how it would simplify life at larger, more complex events. Also, this application had surveys and feedback forms embedded in the schedule. Having paperless feedback forms rather than paper made it easy to complete the forms and submit them – like 1-2-3.

Digital Now

> Which Event: Digital Now Conference

> What does it do: This app provided an agenda, speaker profiles, video case studies, partner information, linkedin and twitter integration, ability to send feedback to organizer and the ability to record audio notes.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I really enjoyed the video case studies. It seemed that the videos were embedded in the application when I downloaded it. I didn’t have to connect to some other place etc. This was a great thing. Also, the links to the social sites (twitter and linkedin) allowed me to engage right away from the application.

Digital Now Video Case Study Screen

Bottom Line

Hopefully this post gives you a good idea of some of the creative things that other events are doing with their smart phone apps. I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I imagine that there are many more interesting ideas out there as well.

What other “event focused apps” would you recommend event organizers consider for inspiration? What other features would you like to see in these apps?

(PS – For those of you that would like to debate the validity of smart phone apps vs handheld devices for events — hold your horses — that will be another post. Save your ammunition and check back in a few days.)

Is Your Mingle Stick Poken Attendees in the BeLinker

In his book Here Comes Everybody Clay Shirky writes – “If you give them more of a reason to do something, they will do more of it, and if you make it easier to do more of something that they are already inclined to do, they will also do more of it.

Shirky came to mind when I heard that 3,000 attendees at an HR Block conference exchanged 153,000 digital business cards and 15,000 paperless brochures using the Busy Event BeLinker. (Case)

The BeLinker must be dead simple for attendees to understand and use. When I talked with Brian Slawin of Busy Event recently, I asked him – how did you get so many people to use it?

Brian emphasized three things:

  1. The organizer sent attendees emails telling them about the new technology.
  2. Attendees had a demonstration & short activity at the beginning to introduce people to the tech and let them try it.
  3. They had a support area for attendees with questions.

The Message: Simple is Good – but so is making sure that attendees feel comfortable with the technology.

Wait! Wait! There’s More!

While Busy Event has a great case – several similar technologies have entered the market in the past 15 months. Here are some examples:

> Poken – Originally designed for college kids, these are sponsorable take home versions of Busy Event. By touching your Poken to another attendee’s Poken, you can exchange social business cards that connect each other’s facebook, twitter and linkedin accounts together. By the looks of things – it is taking off at events. Read the BMW Case Study and IBM Case Study to see how this tool is being used.

> Mingle Stick – This little gadget works similarly to BusyEvent and Poken – except that it is not as robust as BusyEvent or as cool as Poken.

> Living TradeShow – The LivingTradeshow Crickit gives attendees a one button system for exchanging lead information. These little devices are tied to a powerful backend database and onsite network (like BusyEvent) to let exhibitors look at lead information in a live format. The cool thing about these CrickIt devices is that they can be custom molded for each tradeshow and serve as a take-home item.

A Word of Caution – About Mobile Devices

For those of you drinking the mobile-phone KoolAid, I think mobile has some work to do to become as-simple-for-attendees-to-use as these new gadgets.  With mobile, you run into all kinds of problems with different hardware models, software compatibility, compliance, etc.  At a recent event, I discovered that the attendees had many different types of phones and software applications. Trying to exchange mobile contact information was sometimes more effort than it was worth.

Bottom Line

These new simple gadgets are creating new ways for event attendees to connect and share leads, exchange contact information and connect their social world to the real world. By giving all attendees the same technology (Belinkers, Pokens, MingleSticks or CrickITs) you are making sure that they are all working with the same business productivity tools.

What do you think?

image: courtesy of Busy Event

Reminder: I don’t receive any form of compensation for product reviews.

Game Changer For Small Events: Zerista’s Mobile Community Platform

Did you hear that Zerista launched a new mobile community for events last week? It could be a game changer for small events – giving them access to event technology that was previously too expensive.

This new mobile platform is a mashup of Ning, Eventbrite, Twitter and Foursquare for small groups. Plus, it has a self-service setup AND they are making it free for groups with less than 250 people.

Said another way: Zerista can do schedules, messaging, backchannel, take payments, support checkin, send invites, maps and browse member lists and probably other stuff, too.

Watch the video from the DEMO Conference last week to get an overview:

Watch Video & Continue Reading Post

Is this the Future of Event Guides and Exhibitor Brochures?

Today, Wired Magazine did all event marketers and event organizers a favor, in my opinion.  They created a video based on how they see Wired magazine working on the iPad.  Guess what? It rocks! And there are applications for your event guides and exhibitor brochures.

Imagine how great YOU and your event would look if your exhibitor brochures or your event guides worked like this. Ok -they will probably never be this cool – but what if they were 1/2 as cool?  When I wrote the post iPad: It just works…but will it work for events – I had these kind of applications in mind. I just wasn’t smart enough to implement it.

Thank you Wired for showing us the way!

It’s Halloween: Are Your Events Haunted by the Blackberry Prayer?

You know the blackberry prayer. It’s that pose that attendees adopt when they stuff their faces into their blackberry devices (or iphones) during the keynote address or breakout sessions. You know – at the exact moment that they should be listening.

For some speakers and event organizers this can be embarrassing and frustrating. After all the content is supposedly important stuff. Based on what I am hearing and reading in discussion groups – it seems to be haunting events.

BlackBerry Prayer

New Flash: Mobile Devices Are Here To Stay

With more than 120,000 applications available for smart phones, mobile phones are only going to grow in usage. So, you can expect the blackberry prayer to become more common at events in 2010. Here are some additional facts:

  • More than 58% of Americans have a web enabled mobile phone
  • In Europe, 1 in 4 households cancelled their landline and are only using their mobile
  • More than 2 trillion SMS (text) messages were sent in 2008. (Yes! that is Trillion with a “T”!!)
  • 1 in 4 new mobile phones sold in the US is a smart phone.

Besides dressing up as the headless horseman and throwing flaming pumpkins at attendees (which, by the way, I don’t advise) – what can you do to get attendees to look up and pay attention to the speaker?

headless_horseman.014

If You Can’t Beat’em – Join‘em

You can’t prevent people from using their smart phones at your event – but you can engage them through the smart phones.  Ask attendees to use their devices to look up answers during a session. Ask them to tweet you questions or comments. Or use one of the mobile event applications that helps them keep in touch with you and the event.

If those ideas still sounds scary to you – here are 10 more ideas that will help you create interaction:

  1. Increase Interaction Time & Reduce Speaker Presentation Time
  2. Setup A Backchannel
  3. Use Mobile Texting Tools
  4. Use the Buzz Collaboration Format
  5. Try the Fishbowl Technique
  6. Try an Unconference
  7. Use Open Space Technology
  8. Try An Audience Response Team Building Game
  9. Start a Flash Mob – Like Oprah
  10. Try a Treasure Hunt

Bottom Line

Ghosts, Goblins and Blackberry-using-attendees do not control your event experience – you do.  When it comes to addressing the growing number of mobile devices at your events you have two choices: Trick or Treat.

Let me know if you have any alternative witches brew that might be useful here. Happy Halloween!

photo credits: jochen & oskay

Note: I discovered the term “Blackberry Prayer” in a Podcast between Jeff DeCagna & Sue Pelletier: Listen | Read


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