Requirements of event apps are varied: Visitors are looking for the shortest way to an exhibitor, the lecture programme and evening events at a glance, and want to know what’s being discussed on social networks in the industry – Exhibitors equally value being visible and found on mobile devices. We have made a list of the features that belong in a good event app.
Thousands of exhibitors, hundreds of lectures, product presentations and just a few days or often just a few hours’ time. Good planning is the be-all and end-all of every trade fair visit.
An app can provide essential services in this regard. However, too much information can be counter-productive on a small mobile screen. An app that is full of features can be cumbersome and not very user-friendly when on the go. All features have to be intuitive and quickly available. The best possible balance has to be found between user friendliness and range of information. Basic key elements of any trade fair app include:
- An exhibitor search that can be used to display exhibitor profiles with images, product information, videos, brochures, etc. Useful extras include digital business cards of contact persons at the trade fair stand as well as the ability to schedule a demo at the stand using the app.
- An interactive floor plan that can be used to click on exhibitors and learn about the exhibited products in their exhibitor profile. A particularly convenient feature consists of a map of the trade fair grounds with an integrated route planner function that can be used to navigate via GPS from the current position to the selected exhibitors. It is also helpful to be able to add exhibitors to a list of favorites, as is available in the Heimtextil Navigator app, prior to the trade fair and then have them displayed on the floor plan on site.
- A programme of events, which lists all lectures, product premieres, tours of the trade fair or stand for special target groups such as journalists or bloggers, special shows, and theme areas such as university exhibits – ideally with the possibility to transfer these dates directly into a personal calendar to get reminders while on the go and avoid missing out on events.
- General information about the trade fair such as opening hours, ticket prices and an option to buy tickets directly from the app.
- Arrival information for getting to the event by plane, car and train as well as parking options, shuttle services to and from the airport and links to hotels near the trade fair.
- News hub, which brings together all the news about the trade fair including press releases, posts in social media and blogs published by the organizer, industry associations, experts and exhibitors about the event itself as well as special events, product premieres, etc.
- Information about the city or region, in which the trade fair will take place, including tourist attractions, culinary highlights, cultural tips, etc.
- A feedback feature, which users can use to express praise and criticism pertaining to the app. This valuable feedback can be used to optimize the app on an ongoing basis.
- Push messages via beacons, which exhibitors can use at specific locations to transmit additional information including videos, pictures, brochures, data sheets for exhibited products to smartphone users.
Beyond these basic features, there are some newer technical options for making any trade fair app a true highlight:
10. Digital tour of the trade fair stand or special areas such as the audio-guide to the theme park in the Heimtextil Navigator App.
11. Augmented reality to expand the products from the physical into the digital world. For example, at the IAA 2015 trade fair, Volkswagen provided app users, who scanned the cars at the trade fair stand using their smartphones, with additional information including a virtual view of the electric transmission
12. Live communication about lectures: using a feedback feature, visitors can ask questions to the speakers during a lecture, who can then answer them at the end. Surveys can also be published to determine the most popular lecture, speakers, etc.
Exhibitors can link to their apps to additional valuable features. For example, they can enter leads with contact data, interests, etc. digitally using an app instead of the conventional trade fair report on a clipboard. An interface between the app and the customer relationship management (CRM) system can make trade fair follow-up much faster and more effective.