Integration is a hot term that won’t be dying down anytime soon in the event industry when it comes to attendee engagement.
As more and more attendees rely on their mobile devices at events for information and communications, event organizers have been compelled to integrate the live event experience with the online experience. And as hybrid events and virtual events grow in popularity in a post-COVID world, this merging of real-world and online realms is only going to get deeper and more common.
Enter the importance of the mobile event app in the realm of event technology.
However, before you jump on the mobile conference app bandwagon, think about what you really need. There’s a lot of marketing hype out there, and although not all event apps are the same, you shouldn’t pay for features or add-ons that you don’t really need. So take some time to think about your event, how a mobile app might help or enhance your event and what features you’ll need to do that.
For example, event apps are a great for larger meetings and conferences or multi-day, multi-location events that have many moving parts (think lots of sessions, tracks, keynotes, networking, expo halls, dining options and the like) and lots of attendees looking at their smartphones constantly. But if you’re planning a 3-hour gala dinner or a smaller corporate event, your attendees may not need to use an app or not see the need for it.
However, if your event has enough moving parts and components, then deploying a mobile event app should enhance your guests’ experiences by making it easier and simpler to find the information they need, navigate your event and be engaged with the content as well as exhibitors, sponsors and other attendees.
The best mobile event app for you should also enhance your brand, cut back on paper waste and collect valuable metrics and data for you to measure your event’s success as well as see how your attendees are interacting and experiencing what you have created.
26 Best Mobile Event Apps of 2020
Here’s a quick rundown on 26 of the most popular and best mobile conference apps, in alphabetical order.
Covers pre-, during and post-event attendee engagement. Features include schedule, event map, branding, in-app note taking and extensive networking capabilities.
Perfect for: Conferences that involve lots of networking and matchmaking among attendees.
Offers a wide array of 80 features (including agendas, polls, customizable themes and industry-specific items) and drag-and-drop technology for quick setup.
Perfect for: Planners who want an easy way to create an event app and a versatile feature set.
Great solution for festivals and large public events. App info can be accessed offline. Features include event lineups/schedules, gamification, push notifications, detailed maps, agenda/location sharing.
Perfect for: Music and sporting events, food festivals, community events.
Comprehensive event app builder for larger conferences and meetings. Features include event registration, attendee intelligence, smart event data, sponsorship options, social networking.
Perfect for: Meeting planners who want strategic insight into attendee activity and a fully branded online experience.
Aventri (Loopd app)
Event management platform with an app module that lets attendees view multiple events from the same mobile app. Besides standard features (like agendas and polling), includes many networking features like live chat/messaging.
Perfect for: If you’re planning multiple events and want attendees to only download one app.
Event app and event management platform for larger meetings and trade shows. Places emphasis on a highly brandable app that fully engages attendees across a number of tools.
Perfect for: Elevating the attendee experience at large meetings and managing lots of event details during the planning stages.
Straightforward, no-nonsense app for smaller events that’s easy to set up. Includes tools for managing event ticketing/ and registration, talent/speakers and agendas.
Perfect for: Event planners just starting out using event apps or with more basic needs.
Boasts multiple packages to fit a variety of needs. Includes personalized schedules, sponsor/exhibitor features, social media integrations, complex session setup.
Perfect for: Large trade shows and conferences that connect attendees with exhibitors and sponsors.
CrowdCompass from Cvent
Focus is on delivering content to and driving connections between attendees. Includes intuitive app builder, content like speaker profiles and personal agendas + sponsor/exhibitor tools.
Perfect for: Planners who want lots of attendee intelligence plus extensive security and privacy features.
Offers suite of tools for building event apps and event websites plus event registration, check-in and surveys. App tools include agendas, live polling, event information and content, sponsors, networking.
Perfect for: Congresses, conventions and trade fairs for technology and healthcare organizations.
Doubledutch from Cvent
Growing platform offering event mobile app, attendee CMS and developer resources. Offers audience segmentation, event agendas, track/session content, maps, intelligent audience / event data, more.
Perfect for: Planners who need a highly customized app and have in-house or contracted developers to build features within the platform.
Offers different products for different levels of requirements. Includes gamification, schedules, speakers, maps, in-app messaging and social network capabilities.
Perfect for: Events organized by universities and education organizations.
Integrated solution for live / onsite, virtual and hybrid events with event app, registration and webinars. App includes video streaming, polling, live chat, attendee networking, personal agendas.
Perfect for: Corporate event planners who want an app that handles both live and virtual events.
App platform focused on premium corporate brands. Highly customizable branded interface with features like gamification, attendee networking, live polls, live chat / Q&A.
Perfect for: Businesses needing a highly branded experience for their meetings and corporate events.
Flexible and easy-to-set up event app with live video streaming capability. Includes attendee networking, personalized agendas, live feedback, direct integrations with Twitter and Instagram.
Perfect for: Event managers who want to get an app with video and networking features up and running fast.
Highly versatile event app software with pricing based on your needs. Includes registration/ticketing, virtual space housing content and livestreaming, video/chat attendee networking, appointment booking / matchmaking.
Perfect for: Building an event app a la carte with the things you need (and not the ones you don’t).
Clean and customizable interface with visual schedules/timetables, attendee geo-locating, personal itineraries, gamification and virtual rooms and live streaming.
Perfect for: Scientific and medical meetings and conferences of all sizes.
Comprehensive event app that offers Web-browser friendly tools for personal agendas, SMS messaging, live polling/surveys, floor plans, speaker profiles and attendee profiles, event information and content.
Perfect for: Planners looking for event management software and event app in one tool.
Focuses on delivering immersive content (via video streaming, online programs), seamless networking (via live chat, meeting scheduling, video conversations) and exhibitor elements (vial virtual trade shows and video showcases).
Perfect for: Virtual, hybrid and live corporate events and trade shows with lots of moving parts.
Event app focused on larger corporations and corporate events. Includes vendor and attendee profiles, gamification, flexible setup, attendee networking and notifications, sponsor and exhibitor tools and banner ads.
Perfect for: If you need to integrate lots of other platforms (like Salesforce or Eventbrite) with your mobile app.
Built for optimizing the attendee experience and app user experience, including intuitive user interface, in-app social media feed, live video display and streaming, file sharing and communities.
Perfect for: Conferences and trade shows where you want to elevate attendee engagement.
Brandable event app built for embracing a virtual experience, including video streaming and breakout rooms, Q&A, live polling, 1-to-1 meetings, online communities, data intelligence, integrations via Zapier.
Perfect for: Audience engagement live / onsite or in a virtual environment via augmented reality tools.
Affordably priced event app platform with a free option for events under 50 attendees. Featuring iOS and Android functionality, personal schedules, maps, live polls, social walls, messaging, Q&As.
Perfect for: Budget-minded event planners who want a free or affordable app solution.
Touchpoint from Certain
Versatile event app focused on the attendee experience. Includes agendas, polling/surveys, attendee communications and easy app setup.
Perfect for: Real-time communications between organizers, attendees and exhibitors/sponsors.
Combines convenience of content delivery with attendee networking. Includes interactive maps, document sharing, easy setup and branding, personal agendas, push notifications, social media integrations.
Perfect for: Conferences, expos, tradeshows and community events where you want your content online and want to minimize your carbon footprint.
iOS, Android and mobile Web compatible app builder with a wealth of social networking options. Includes quick setup, no app store approval required, real-time analytics, Twitter / Eventbrite / Facebook / YouTube / Vimeo integrations.
Perfect for: Event managers who want a simple way for attendees to get content and connect with each other.
14 Best Event App Features You Should Want in a Conference App
To give you a jump start on your event app feature needs, here’s a list of our event app must-haves to prime the pump for when you start shopping:
The event mobile app experience should start right from ticket purchase. Directing attendees to your mobile event app for registration gets them to download and engage with the app before the event so that they are familiarized with how to use it when the conference starts. Of course, taking registrations on a mobile platform also makes it easier to keep track of headcount and registration details (because everything is combined in the same platform) and to get people checked-in quickly and effortlessly when they are onsite.
Event Guide (Maps, Sessions, Speakers, Facility Amenities, etc.)
Your mobile event app should be the only thing guests need to find their way around your event and to stay on schedule. To keep attendees from getting lost or frustrated, you’ll want to make sure you include detailed schedules, maps and session details (description, speaker profiles, time/location of sessions, etc.). Having a digital event guide also helps you communicate any last-minute changes, like a change in time or rooms.
Customizable Event Schedules
Large conferences with a lot of breakout sessions to choose from can be overwhelming for attendees. Use your event app to calm your guests’ anxieties and help them plan their perfect conference schedule by offering a customizable event schedule in your event. With this event app feature, they can select ahead of time which sessions they want to go to. This also gives you valuable information as to what your attendees are most interested in (for future programming purposes).
How much and what kind of content management you’ll need in your event app will depend on the nature of your event. However, there should be content management to at least some degree. Some examples of content management to look for in an event app are: downloading a speaker presentations and bios; uploading documents, papers or abstracts to be reviewed at the meeting; and the ability to take and privately save personal notes.
Surveys, Live Polling, Q&A and Up-Voting
Again, which of these event app features you need will depend on your event. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have all of them! Surveys are an obvious way to collect critical feedback, measure success and gauge attendees’ impressions of individual sessions and your overall event. And adding polling, Q&A and up-voting to your event app are all great ways for you to engage with your guests in real-time. Individual presenters can even use the features to include the audience in their presentation and instantly tailor their talk to what attendees wish to learn.
Live Bidding for Charity Auctions
OK, for many event planners, this one isn’t exactly a must-have. However, if you are planning to have an auction or charitable component to your event, it certainly is. Having this option incorporated in your mobile event app will let guests view and update bids instantly through the event app (notifying them when they have been outbid so they can re-bid, hence increasing your revenues). You should also consider event mobile apps that are set up to receive donations and publish top donors for other guests to see.
For many live events like conferences and meetings, networking is often the primary benefit that attendees expect when they register. So if attendee networking and interaction is a big selling point for your event, then your event app should offer many of these tools. Think searchable attendee directory, group and one-to-one attendee live chat and video conferencing, meeting setting between attendees and app-based communities for connecting.
Gamification and Attendee Engagement
Increase engagement by turning your meeting or conference into a game. Add gamification features to your event app and reward attendees with points, badges and maybe even physical gifts for attending sessions, building connections and visiting vendor booths. Gamification is one way to boost attendee engagement with the app itself, but you should also look for features that boost attendee engagement with the event itself (which could include tactics like use of notifications suggesting content or sessions based on their interests or previously selected sessions).
Social Media Integrations
Word of mouth is still one of the most valuable marketing forms. Get your attendees talking about your event and sharing with their networks by making it easy for them to share content straight from the event app onto their social media platforms. You can even load hashtags automatically or nudge them to share their favorite quote, a tip they learned or more. A bonus if your app integrates with social media video boards located throughout your event venue.
Push Notifications and Alerts
The ability to alert and talk to your guests in real-time through your event app is important. Not only is it great for informing attendees of last-minute schedule changes, but having the option to send notifications also means you can send alerts when the next event is about to happen, nudge them to share on social media and remind them to take a moment to visit the vendors or recognize a sponsor. And it’s also a great way to send official safety or security announcements. Just be careful with how many notifications you send to avoid attendees tuning out and turning off your event app.
Virtual Event Tools Like Video Live Streaming
Since the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, virtual and hybrid events have become commonplace in the events industry. And if you plan on including some sort of remote attendee experience, your app should also have integrated tools like live video streaming, virtual rooms / areas for attendee networking, virtual exhibitor halls and the like. The best mobile event apps even integrate with live platforms like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Instagram Live and Google Hangouts.
Customization and Branding
Even if you find the mobile event app of your dreams, make sure you have ownership of it with regard to your ability to brand and customize the experience. Adding your brand colors, text and logo are essential in connection guests to your brand and making the app-to-live event experience feel seamless. Also look for the ability to choose from different pre-set layouts or even set up your own look-and-feel. And for those meeting planners who want a totally customized app experience, look for apps with developer tools and platforms.
Unless you’re a tech-junkie on the side, you’ll also want to make sure your mobile event app is easy and simple to use and update. Ideally, you should be able to change information, send alerts or upload new content in a matter of minutes – and without having to call your IT team.
Security and Stability
Finally, while not as dazzling as the other features, choosing a mobile event app that offers stability, functionality and security is an absolute must. All of the features will mean nothing if the event app continuously crashes or the interface is clunky and hard to navigate. And a security breach … well, needless to say, that would cause pause for guests to attend another one of your events. Also look for an app that lets you adjust permission settings for what you want your guests to be able and see and do with the app content that aligns with the data sharing preferences of your audience.
As you can see, event smartphone apps come in all configurations and price points. And with lots of choices, you will need to nail down your needs upfront to make sure you pick the one that best aligns with what you want your event to deliver and the experience that your audience envisions. Best of luck in your search!!!