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An Event Planning Blog by Gather Digital

Event App Login Choices Made Simple

Written by: Angie Sloan

Angie Sloan

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One of the considerations when creating an event app for your meeting, conference or trade show is the type of login, or authentication, you will require for your app.

Deciding the type of login you want can be a bit confusing because you have so many choices. Apps on the Apple App and Google Play Stores can be downloaded by anyone, but it’s up to you whether you give someone “an inside look” at your app or not.

The kind of password protection you decide to have (or not have) has everything to do with your event and its objectives. And the cool thing is that you can have different login options on each event even if you have several events in one app.

No authentication—Easy for your attendees

Having no login means there is no barrier to entry for your app. This option allows anyone to access the app without requiring any login or attendee authentication at all. However, with no authentication or process to create an account, some capabilities, including networking and social features, would be unavailable.

Accessing the app with no login requirement is really simple for your attendees. This option works well for many organizations. Just download the app and open it. Voilà. But remember, as easy as it is for your attendees, it’s just as easy for anyone else. Totally OK if you have no sensitive information in the app or don’t mind potentially sharing all content with the wider public.

Upfront authentication—Gives you more control 

With a required login, you decide who gains access to the app. This is important if you have presentations, financial documents, speaker or attendee bios or other information that you don’t want available to just anyone.

With a login, your users will have to take action to access the app, but you can offer them so much more. Your participants can edit their own profiles and network using in-app direct messaging with other users. They can have their own personal agenda in the app or get social by sharing photos or posting topics and comments to discussion boards.

You can offer your sponsors or exhibitors more as well. Drive traffic to their booths with a badge game or help them achieve lead goals with your event by using a lead capture tool.

When you know who’s who, you’ll also get better data. You can get immediate reports on live poll and survey feedback, who downloaded what presentation or earned which continuing education credits and more. There are many opportunities for learning more about your constituents if they are identified in the app.

Secondary authentication—Optional for attendees who want more

You may want something in between—an app that has no upfront login, so that anyone may access it from the app stores, but that has a “secondary” or optional login that allows attendees to choose whether or not they log in or create an account to use networking or social features.

This is a good option if an open, no-login app seems right for you, but you’d like to offer some networking features to attendees who “opt in” to join a discussion board conversation, post photos or message other attendees. This option works less well if you are displaying pre-arranged personal itineraries, though, as not all attendees will choose to log in and then they might miss some important information, such as a seating assignment, one to one meeting or breakout session.

Which option should I choose?

To decide which kind of login option is best for your organization and event, ask yourself these questions:

  • How secure does my app content need to be?
  • Do I want to offer interactive features to my event participants?
  • Will I want to survey and poll my participants and have full reporting of who responded how?
  • Will I want to use the app to help plan for seating capacity in session rooms?
  • Will I be offering continuing education sessions at my event?
  • Do I need to provide attendees with pre-arranged schedules or other information relevant only to them or their participant type?

If you need a login to authenticate your users, check out the following five login options to consider which would work best for you.

5 Login Options

These login types are upfront to authenticate a user’s identity in order to allow that person to view the app. Several of the login options may be used instead as secondary logins where anyone can get into the app, but attendees may log in to take advantage of additional social and networking features.

Upfront Login Options Requiring Attendee List

1. Attendee-created password

The attendee-created password is the most secure of the login options. Users have a couple of steps to take, but if they don’t log out, they shouldn’t have to log in again. And the password should be easier for them to remember since they selected it.

Users must be on the attendee list in the app. They enter their email address into the app and request to set up a password. They are sent instructions to their email and may then set up their unique password.

Allows for:

  • Direct messaging in the app to other attendees
  • Profile enhancement with bio, photo
  • Social engagement including discussion boards, photo sharing, badge game and more
  • Personalization in the app
  • Live polls and survey feedback

*Available as a secondary login option

2. Planner-assigned password

The planner-assigned password is another very secure option. Users must be on the attendee list in the app. The meeting planner gives each attendee a unique password to use to log into the app. The attendee enters his or her email address and the unique password. This option is a couple of steps quicker than having the user create his or her own password, but managing the passwords on an individual level is a little more work for the planner.

Allows for:

  • Direct messaging in the app to other attendees
  • Profile enhancement with bio, photo
  • Social engagement including discussion boards, photo sharing, badge game and more
  • Personalization in the app
  • Live polls and survey feedback

*Available as a secondary login option

3. Planner-created universal password

The universal password is a very easy upfront login option for participants. The event planner communicates one password to all attendees. They enter their email address and the password. Users must be on the attendee list in the app.

If the app content contains information that is sensitive, such as financials or enhanced attendee profiles that you don’t want shared with people outside your attendee group, this option may not be as tightly-controlled as you’d like. Since one password is communicated openly to all attendees, it’s possible that someone could log in as someone else if they know that person’s email address. While we’ve never heard of this happening, it certainly could. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the possibility.

Allows for:

  • Direct messaging in the app to other attendees
  • Profile enhancement with bio, photo
  • Social engagement including discussion boards, photo sharing, badge game and more
  • Personalization
  • Live polls and survey feedback

*Available as a secondary login option

Upfront Login Options that Do Not Require an Attendee List

4. Self-Registration

Users fill out an upfront set of fields to access the app and add themselves to the attendee list. This is a less secure option than those that require a confirmation of attendee status because anyone could download the app and fill out the quick form.

Allows for:

  • Ease of entry into the app by anyone
  • Social sharing for large events where it is prohibitive to have an attendee list in the app
  • Participation in live polls and surveys, but with no respondent identification for the planner

*Available as a secondary login option

5. Unlock Code

The planner communicates one code to all attendees. There is no attendee list required. This is the easiest of all login options for attendees, but it lacks a bit of control that the planner can get with the other options. And it doesn’t allow for networking, personalization or social sharing features.

Allows for:

  • Ease of entry into the app by anyone who knows code
  • Users to access app content without networking and social sharing
  • Participation in live polls and surveys, but with no respondent identification for the planner

Promote to your attendees

Your options for securing and requiring authentication to enter the app are many and varied. It all depends on your event and its objectives.

Using the event app creates a much better event experience for the attendees and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to participate. So, whichever way you go, be sure to communicate clearly to your users how to access the app.

We advise our clients to send out a dedicated email with the app instructions a few days before the event (earlier is better) so that attendees have time to check out all the great information in the app or come back to the planner if they have access questions. Be sure not to bury the app info in your general conference email. Send a separate message with instructions so participants can easily find the info. Then, on event day, it's a good idea to display large signs or table-toppers with instructions around the venue—especially at the registration area. 


If you'd like to delve more deeply into event app data security, check out this list:   5 Security Questions to Ask Your Event App Vendor

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