Government Connections - Summer 2012 - (Page 30)
Is a mobile app
By Michael Downard, CGMP FOR THE 30TH NEC, we were determined to make a splash in every way possible. Therefore, for the ﬁrst time, SGMP pursued a multiple platform conference application, moving our NEC forward into the 21st century of the meeting profession. We have to thank our publication partner, Naylor, LLC, for the hard work and all of the programming that went into making this attendee beneﬁt a reality. Not everyone who attended the 2012 NEC owned a smartphone or tablet computer, but the application was a huge success because everyone had access to the internet. The application was available not only to Apple, Droid, and Blackberry users on a variety of platforms; it was also available as a mobile website accessible by anyone who stopped by the cyber café. If you are considering incorporating a mobile app, step one for your conference application should be to focus on a partner that provides you the ability to reach Apple (the largest hurdle, since they are a closed source company) and other application stores where people commonly search for items. It is true that the mobile site could be “saved” to any device as a shortcut; however, having the product available for download from one of the stores really legitimizes your brand and product. The user perception is that you invested enough effort to bother to take your product through extra steps for the end user. Consciously or unconsciously, it will result in a better user experience. The process of building out your application is very similar to working on a hard copy conference program in that there are several phases to the project. In the event you are utilizing features like attendee information sharing (or communicators) you may find yourself regularly updating files through the last day of your registration. Once you have committed to that idea (phase 1), you immediately need to know several things to offer the best possible experience for you, your organization, and your attendees. Ask your developer during phase
your best foot forward?
1 what is realistic functionality based on your conference time frame. If they promise everything is possible on a short turn around, consider other partners as this is a field with many startup companies, some who understand their abilities, and some who overpromise and under-deliver. Phase 2 is determining what information is necessary, pertinent, and useful that you need to include as well as what tools and resources you would like to include. Everything that is time-sensitive or responsive to user error is usually the most interesting functionality—but also the highest risk for end user complaints. Prepare your staff with responses and be sure that your developer will have someone available for immediate response. The audience that will typically use this product will be easily discouraged by functionality problems. It is imperative to really iron out the functionality before the product is submitted to Apple. At phase 3, you will ideally have time to test and familiarize yourself with the final product. While you may consider yourself a master at this phase, do not fret when something goes awry. Unless you are Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, there is probably someone with a greater understanding of the product. If you absolutely need to change functionality, you better hope you have a couple of weeks to submit it to Apple. There is a huge
amount of logic utilized behind their closed source development…just ask anyone who has used all of the major platforms of smartphones or tablets. While Droids can “outgeek” Windows 8 and iOS, they are also much more susceptible to attacks and crashing. The final pre-event phase, phase 4, is marketing. Having an application for your event is “cool” and “exciting” only if you tell someone about it. Prompt your general session speakers, introductions, and closers to remind everyone at every opportunity that the application is available. If you have time and it is available before the event, you may even be able to work out some kinks before it seems like yet another on-site emergency. If you have generous enough companies to sponsor your application or your event, it benefits you to include them in all of your marketing materials. Remember, this application is not just a “cool new gadget,” it is a reflection of your organization, your brand, and your image. This tool puts you in touch with a new generation of media platforms and, while expectations might be different, the information needs to be consistent. Put your best foot forward and step into conference applications.
Michael Downard is SGMP’s Membership Services & IT Director and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOVERNMENT CONNECTIONS | Summer 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Summer 2012
10 Secrets to Winning the Business
Good to Know
Dieting on a Per Diem
2012 National Education Conference Summary
SGMP NEC gives back to the New Orleans Community
Is a mobile conference app your best foot forward?
Exercise on the road… are you kidding?
The Meeting Minute
Government Connections - Summer 2012