Enhancing Attendee Engagement with the Mobile Channel

By Vanessa Horwell Founder & Chief Visibility Officer, ThinkInk & TravelInk'd | October 14, 2012

For traditional marketing and advertising promotions, the mobile channel is opening up a slew of new opportunities: everything from retail coupons to loyalty reward programs are being enhanced through mobile interactions. The immense convenience and "always connected" benefits of smartphones and other mobile devices (not to mention the intimate nature of these devices) make them a very appealing vehicle for consumer advertising, but what about the trade segments-specifically, what can the mobile channel do for trade shows and conventions? With mobile's vast capabilities and ever-growing adoption, the channel can increase the effectiveness of conventions by becoming an integral tool for all phases of the event: pre-convention, during, and post-convention.

There's no denying the reach of the mobile channel: by early 2012, nearly 90 percent of Americans owned mobile phones, with roughly 50 percent of these being smartphones. And by summer 2012 two out of three US mobile purchases were for smartphones. Of course, in most business professions, the concentration of these numbers is far higher, making mobile one of the most effective tools to communicate with on-the-go professionals. Considering the professional playing field these days, who isn't on-the-go?

Logically, these factors extend into the convention and trade show environment. Whether convention planners are looking to create an event-specific app or utilize optimized mobile websites to communicate with attendees, there are a number of mobile techniques that can be applied to ensure a successful event-and provide more opportunities to create value for convention goers. The following are a number of approaches for organizers to engage more attendees and optimize the convention experience through the mobile channel.

The Mobile Channel: Pre-Convention

Let's face it: the majority of convention-goers aren't all that excited about attending an upcoming convention or trade show. While there's nothing that can change this fact, planners can use the mobile channel to make preparations for these (rather unwilling) attendees much easier, thereby eliminating some of usual problems associated with RSVP "checkpoints" (hotel reservations, individual event reservations, etc.) prior to the convention.

• Notification – Before any major checkpoint is reached, convention planners can offer pre-registration (which, if applicable, could include downloading the convention's app) that provides each attendee with a mobile notification that gives instant linkage to the specific RSVP site. Think of it as a direct landing page for each event, sent via text, mobile email, or app. For example, convention attendees can sign up at pre-registration to receive notification via a downloadable convention application. The result is that, prior to the RSVP deadline for each event, the attendee will receive a message:

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.