The days of attendees scrambling through the show catalogue, or fiddling with a printed schedule are very quickly going the way of the fax machine.  Increasingly, visitors gain access to information through their mobile devices. But challenges still exist: Do they have easy access to Wi-Fi, is their battery able to last a whole day, and have they taken the time to downloaded the event app.

Challenges aside, event mobile apps are not an event engagement strategy. The universal motivators for event attendance (and the things by which event success is often measured), are networking opportunities and education. If the objective of an attendee is to expand their professional circle and gain knowledge by attending learning sessions, is spending their time staring at a mobile screen the best way to achieve this?  Probably not. Because using your mobile phone inherently limits facetime and attention at the event.

Events are social, and event professionals should aim for methods that encourage this natural behaviour.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we throw our mobiles into a bonfire.  An event app can be extremely convenient to quickly access useful resources, and can play a role in providing the means for participants to interact and meet more people. But in deploying a successful event, it is still fundamental for participants to be active, to look at each other in the eyes, to relate with what is around them, and even to discover things by happening upon them.  A real experience is more beneficial than a virtual one.  And this is a truth apps cannot escape from.

Event apps will continue to play a role in the way people are informed and communicate at events, and this shouldn’t be ignored.  When planning your event, consider apps not to be the entire strategy, but one component in a strategy of real engagement.  Look up, smile, and make real friends by being wholly present, enjoying the moments that you cannot replace with a virtual presence.  What can help achieve that? Real life experiences or technologies that amplify the natural behaviour of the event.

Before choosing the method, organizes should define what it is they are trying to achieve, because there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to event engagement. And with more and more emerging technologies, it is an exciting time for the event space.

Poken’s 360° platform consists of technologies that unite both the physical and digital event spaces. Real world interactions are not stifled, but enhanced by digital tools such as the Poken interactive USB stick, which allows participants to exchange contact details, participate in games, check into meetings and collect information. A feature-rich, customised event web portal and mobile app give participants further event information, and provide access to advanced matchmaking, meeting scheduling, and a host of other features. The end result- an engagement experience that organizers can adapt to augment the natural behaviour of the event.