How to encourage event app adoption when your attendees are reluctant to let go of paper.
Going paperless is established as event planners’ favourite way of providing event information. Not only are mobile event apps commonplace, the traditional show bag is being replaced by e-satchels. These online goody bags offer plenty of freebies without clogging up landfill with discarded pens, notebooks and rubber balls!
Although the event app is pushing us towards paperless events, many attendees are still reluctant to let go of their printed handbooks. The majority of event attendees may own a mobile device, but there’s still some reluctance to fully embrace interactive event apps and technology.
For event planners and organisers this can be a headache.
Modern event apps are sophisticated and reliable. Flexible design allows the app functionality to be scaled up or down depending on the size of the event. An event app can be custom branded, have offline capabilities and incorporate networking tools such as private chat connections. They’re also incredibly cost effective. A mobile conference app costs, on average, a third of the equivalent in printed material.
With such a wide range of benefits, event planners love event apps. But how do you persuade clients and attendees that they’ll love them too?
1. Understand The Roadblocks
It’s important to understand why people are reluctant to use an conference app. It’s a tricky issue, because often the reasons are hard to define.
The e-book phenomenon gives some good pointers about why people like paper. The first e-books were greeted with derision. They weren’t seen as ‘proper’ books. Paper books carried authority and authenticity. They were the tradition; people grew-up with paper books and liked the tangible feel and weight of a book.
People’s relationship to event material is similar. Attendees are used to receiving glossy handouts. They expect to have a printed booklet or pamphlet that tells them all they need to know, not a mobile event app. They like the reassurance lots of paper gives, from feedback surveys to speaker credentials; volume equals quality.
2. What’s In It For Them?
To embrace the change, event participants need to have some idea of how it will benefit them. Switching to a mobile event app may be more cost effective for the event organiser but that might not be enough to prompt enthusiasm in their guests.
Market the switch to event apps as a positive change and communicate the benefits to potential users. There are so many upsides to going paperless, but choosing the right message for your audience is key.
Are they environmentally sensitive and will respond to a strong ‘green’ message? Will they love the fact that they can receive event updates and changes in real time? Are they the kind of attendees that love to network and will like the tools that allow them to connect with fellow attendees through private messaging and chat platforms? Will they really dig the event app gamification and reward points?
Find out what makes your attendees tick and show them how an event app can meet their needs.
3. Give Them Time
When people have fixed ideas about how event information should be presented, it makes sense that effecting change needs some planning. Attendees should be given plenty of time to get used to the idea of event apps.
Alongside communications about the change to mobile, think about offering the event app well in advance of the event. Giving people time to play around with its features in their own time means they’ll become confident users quicker. They can familiarise themselves with the event agenda and even create their own personalised schedule (something that’s difficult to to do with paper handouts). Advanced access also allows for questions and queries to be addressed before the event starts.
Make sure your event app provider is on hand before the event to answer attendees’ issues in a way that is clear and easy to understand. If they can put together a simple demonstration for online access, even better!
4. Provide On-Site Support
On event day, make sure attendees have plenty of support. From the moment they download the event app, nervous users will need some hand holding to get fully confident.
Have a tech representative (commonly known as an App Concierge) from your app provider on site to help with registration. A dedicated support person means they can give full attention to attendees who need help getting to grips with the app. They can also be the point of contact for any on-going queries or questions that crop up during the event.
With a little bit of planning and persuasion, you’ll close your event with a host of confident event app users who are more than happy to bid a fond farewell to all that paper.