Mobile event apps increasingly more strategic for meeting planners

IMEX Group and QuickMobile recently released the findings of their first annual mobile event technology research study. According to the survey of international meeting planners, mobile event apps continue to enjoy torrid growth, with 60 per cent of the event planners surveyed using a mobile app for at least one of their events in the last two years. While the popularity of events apps is clearly on the rise, those immersed in the industry believe that adoption is far lower across the entire portfolio of meetings and events.

Corbin Ball, one of the industry’s premier meetings technology consultants, indicated the 60 per cent adoption rate is probably true of larger, flagship events with more than 250 participants. “There are 1.8 million meetings in the U.S. each year, many of which have fewer than 100 attendees. It will take some time for event apps to be utilized in smaller, corporate meetings, but it is definitely coming,” stated Ball.

The research indicated that there is enormous room for growth, as just over one-third of respondents have mobile apps in their budget only “some of the time” and a full 42 per cent have never included an app in their event budgets.

“It’s clear that while more event planners are using mobile apps and seeing them as 365-day communication tools, they are just beginning to discover their strategic value. We definitely have room to grow,” said Patrick Payne, CEO of QuickMobile. “In our 7 Predictions of the Mobile App Industry in 2014 white paper released earlier this year, we predicted that mobile event apps will enter a new stage of market acceptance moving from early adopter to the early majority phase. This research confirms that this is happening, though we have not quite hit mainstream, and event apps are still under-utilized in the corporate meetings space.”

Approximately 92 per cent of the planners surveyed manage three or more events per year, and of those, 54 per cent host more than 10 events. Despite this, 70 per cent of meeting planners have used event apps for less than six events in the past year. Dahlia El Gazzar, founder & CEO of The Meeting Pool, and noted events industry consultant, said, “Demand for mobile event apps is skyrocketing, as are the number of vendors now providing some form of event app. As apps start to go enterprise-wide, corporate customers will look for solutions that can scale, adhere to security standards, and are easily accessible and used by teams company-wide.”

Among the key findings of the research is that despite having significantly less experience with mobile event apps, meeting planners across EMEA are much more concerned about security and data privacy (78%) compared to their North American colleagues (69%). For both groups, security concerns decrease once they have used an app. Below are additional key insights from the research:

  • Only 28% of North American (NA) planners include a mobile app in their event budget most of the time or always, compared with only 20% of planners elsewhere.
  • Respondents indicated the top three most important reasons for a mobile event app are organizer-to-attendee communications, eliminating paper and attendee-to-attendee communication. Seventy-five per cent want to use the app to start conversations before an event, and 78% want to keep them going after the event.
  • The biggest barriers-to-entry for mobile event apps are Wi-Fi accessibility and budget, followed closely by the perceived time it takes to produce an app.
  • Experienced app users value user-friendly content management (95% v. 86%), analytics (88% v. 78%) and social media integration (80% v. 71%) more than non-users.
  • North American planners (42%) are more likely to use a multi-event platform than their EMEA counterparts (35%).
  • Twenty-six per cent of EMEA planners were unaware of any mobile event app vendors, compared to 8% in North America. QuickMobile is the best-known vendor in ROW; neck-and-neck with CrowdCompass/Cvent in NA.

“We wanted to establish a baseline for future research about mobile event technology,” concluded Payne. “As a result of this study, we now have the data that we can use to contrast and compare the adoption of event technology and its potential impact on the industry in future years.”

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