An Event Planning Blog by Gather Digital

Choosing is Hard: Which Event App Features Do You Need and Which Can You Skip?

Written by: Becky Fittro

Becky Fittro


How do you decide which features you need for your event app and which you don’t? Do you need everything the app provider offers? Probably not.

You want to be sure to choose an event app vendor whose app is highly configurable and flexible so you can get what you want, but not have to pay for what you don’t.

Choosing the right feature set can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes less is more. The key is not to pick the most app tools, but to pick the right tools that will get you where you want to go.

Including your agenda in your mobile event app is obvious. And for sure you’ll want to customize your app with your organization’s colors, logos and other branding elements. But what else? Which features will make the biggest impact? How can your app truly be a game changer for your event? 

Be Goal Oriented

Of course you want to keep your event goals first and foremost in your mind. The goals of your event drive all decisions. So think strategically.

Some conferences are focused on customers or sponsors, while some are geared toward human resources training opportunities. Some offer complicated topic-based agendas with keynote speakers and presentations; at the same time, others encourage a high level of networking and attendee interaction. Think about what you want to accomplish with your event and choose the features that will help you achieve those objectives. An event app can be a very powerful tool when considered tactically up front.

Also consider your challenges. Are you hosting delegates from around the globe? Maybe you want to offer multiple languages in your app. Perhaps you need participants to add themselves to the attendee list because you plan to have upwards of 10,000 people coming. In that case, you may decide on an attendee “self add” option. Is it important to have quick communication with your attendees? Choose push notifications. Is data security top of mind for your organization? Consider upfront login. You may also want to “hide” some participants from the attendee list while still allowing those individuals to access the app.

Check out this at-a-glance “What Do I Need?” Features Table for your reference. We have considered nine different meeting or event goals that we hear about most often from our customers. The quick-view table gives you some direction for choosing features based on your event’s goals.

Perhaps one of your goals is to offer a truly personalized experience to your meeting or program participants.

Let’s get at how your event app can help you achieve that. Consider these features:

Personal Schedules—app users get their own personalized agendas in the app. Includes sessions from the agenda they pre-select or those the event planner chooses for them, as well as off-agenda items, such as golf tee times, spa appointments or table assignments.

Participant Types—customization tool allows planner to categorize participants. Groups see different kinds of content, such as sessions, logistics, links, exhibitors, messages and more.

To-Do Task List—allows groups or individuals to update planner-assigned tasks within the app. Planner receives full task list report.

One-to-One Meetingsplanner sets up discussions between company representatives, sponsor attendees and event participants. Meeting info, such as attendee bios, location and time are viewable in the app.

Push Messagingplanner sends pre-scheduled or real-time push notifications to groups or individual participants.

Multiple Languagesallows planner to provide content in multiple languages and for attendees to select their language of choice.

Or maybe a goal of your event is to highlight your sponsors and increase their event ROI.

Consider these features:

Robust Exhibitor Listingallows for listing and detail pages with designated sponsor levels, logos and exhibitor attendees with photos.

Badge Game—gamification helps encourage participant behavior. Earning a badge can motivate an attendee to visit a specific exhibitor booth, talk with a key sponsor, attend certain breakout sessions, take a survey, participate in a discussion board, post a photo and more. The game leaderboard also allows for attendees to see interests of others based on badges earned.

Videosallows for mp4 videos to stream in the app.

One-to-One Meetings—set up discussions between your organization representatives, sponsor attendees and meeting participants. Meeting info, such as attendee bios, location and time are viewable in the app.

Sponsor Banners—logos or ads in the app. May be placed on home page, specific agenda sessions, general info, messages and links pages in the app.

Lead Retrieval—allows exhibitors to scan badges, then rate and track leads in the app. Exhibitors (and the planner) may also access and download lead-tracking reports. No extra hardware required.

Direct Exhibitor Portal—exhibitors can manage their leads and in-app presence (logos, company information, attendees and more) on their own through the content management website.

Check out all nine most-popular event goals on this easy-to-read features table.

Finally, let’s face it. There are features that almost everyone needs. You’ll want to be sure your app is offered on all device platforms—native to iOS and Android, as well as available on mobile web. Be sure the app is simple for your attendees to use and easy for you to set up and update. And you’ll want great service—a high level of technical support and a dedicated project manager who is also an event app expert. These, you’ll want to have. Then, add the bells and whistles, but just the ones that match your event goals. 


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