Enhancing Our Event Experience through Apps

July 2, 2012


I have only recently started downloading apps to my iPhone for some of the events that I attend. But, I’m beginning to see some patterns emerge from my experience. I can see how these apps can really enhance one’s experience of an event. But, I’m also seeing some occasional limitations.

A couple weeks ago, I attended the 29th Annual Chicago Blues Festival. It’s an event I’ve been attending since my high school days and my first time downloading any sort of music festival app. As always, the festival was great, but there were noticeably fewer sponsor and food booths than in years past. I did miss Gibson‘s involvement in the event when they sponsored a stage and activated their sponsorship through an interactive guitar exhibit where attendees could jam on dozens of beautiful Gibson guitars.

As far as the app goes, I really liked the design. It was visually appealing, easy to use and it helped me to find out who was playing and the stage they were playing at. The app also allowed me to create a quick, at a glance agenda. If I was unfamiliar with a performer, there were plenty of links to YouTube videos and a detailed bio.

The app did a great job of providing information to help plan my visit including parking (both car and bike), public transportation, maps, hotels and there were plenty of links for quick, easy access to the information. A list of sponsors and links to their sites and special offers were also tastefully incorporated into the app.

Perhaps my favorite part of the app was the “encore flame,” a playful feature which gave the audience a chance to re-create the concert experience.

Judging by the feedback in the App Store, the Chicago Blues Festival app got 4 out of five stars and very favorable reviews including: “must have,” “Excellent App,” “Perfect” and “Love this app.”

My only negative is that the app (and my iPhone in general) was difficult to view in the bright afternoon sunlight during the daytime portion of the festival. This is no knock against the app, but a reminder of the limitations of technology in certain situations.

I recently worked a conference at the spacious McCormick Place here in Chicago. Attendees at the healthcare event were able to download the app and have the most up to date agenda. I was able to guide several people through this process and they were very happy to have this information at a glance. I was impressed that the event app also included a QR Code reader, which made it easier for attendees to find information and saved them from the need to complete an additional step.

One limitation, however, was the poor Wi Fi connection throughout the hall due to the high volume of people. This meant that many attendees would not have access to the most up-to-date agenda at a time when they really needed it. It also made the promotion to drive traffic to exhibit booths nearly impossible.

As a consumer, I’m seeing both the positives and negatives of utilizing event apps. I can see how these apps can enhance my experience by giving me information that I need…information that I used to have to fumble through to find. I see how some apps can add a sense of fun and playfulness to my experience.

But I also see how apps can potentially add to an attendee’s frustration level, especially if there are technical glitches.

There’s no doubt: event apps are here to stay. But we might still need to grab a hard copy of the program until all the bugs are taken care of.

How about you…have you attended an event where an app enhanced your experience or really frustrated you? Please share…

1 Oz July 10, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Nice post. And I’m glad that you mention the glare. Gorilla glass is durable but sure can be difficult to read texts in the sun. A paper program works just fine.

2 Tim July 12, 2012 at 7:04 am

Hi Oz:

Yeah, while technology is great…it still is limited at times. I’m still not ready for anyone to get rid of the hard copies of event programs just yet. Good to know there someone else out there that doesn’t mind a low-tech, old-school solution sometimes. Thanks for stopping by!

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