Building a Mobile Technology Strategy for Your Event

Leveraging mobile technology to your events' advantage

By Tara Thomas Vice President of Global Marketing, Certain Software, Inc. | August 14, 2011

For an event professional, mobile is both a blessing and a curse. Events are about bringing people together for a common goal or interest and engaging attendees with content, sharing, and communication. Mobile phones often present an obstacle to a planner's hard work facilitating a seamless environment-What used to be daydreaming has been replaced with texting, emailing, browsing, ringing, and gaming that can provide a hefty distraction and draw eyes away from your presentation. All of your hard work and attention to tiny detail seems so easily ignored when attendees are engrossed in other activities "at hand." The fact is, mobile phones are not going anywhere. In 2011 mobile phone sales have trumped PC sales worldwide, meaning things are only going to get worse unless event organizers choose to accept and embrace mobilization. There are 5.3 billion mobile phone users worldwide. 500 million of those mobile phone users are also mobile internet users. This is not a trend; it is a lifestyle, and you need to turn this trend to your events' advantage.

At a typical event or conference, attendees can use their phones to do a multitude of things around the event: they can check their email for updates, map the exact location of the convention center and get driving directions, check for restaurants nearby for their meeting, tweet about the event, exchange contact information using Bump, take pictures and share with the people around them, use Foursquare to see who is also attending… The list goes on and on.

Meeting planners should be thinking of ways to incorporate mobile into their events, period. Not only can mobile be used to cut costs, it can actually be leveraged to improve overall success by enhancing communication and increasing attendee engagement around your event. When you spend months of effort and resources solidifying details for an event, the last thing that you want is for your attendees to zone out immediately upon arrival. Learn to use mobile to guide their attention to your advantage. Keep them interested and connected, even while glued to their phones before, during, and after your event. Rouse them out of bed with breakfast meeting SMS reminders, post networking cocktail pictures immediately, do more with QR codes and sponsors...

Everyone at your event is concerned with results. When you are planning an event, it is key to take all of your key stakeholders into account in the planning process. Planners want to know that that their event has been executed successfully and demonstrated the desired impact, and attendees want a seamless event experience that provides maximum value for their time and investment. Beyond just the planners and attendees, the event ecosystem also includes business sponsors, organizers, CFOs backing the entire show, and event speakers and sponsors. How do you align your mobile strategy with those key stakeholders and their needs? Let's take a look at four needs that you can directly address with mobile:

Find and Be Found

Your attendees are trying to get to breakout rooms, connect with partners and colleagues, decide on sessions and speakers to attend, choose a restaurant for dinner tonight, etc. Speakers and sponsors also want to be found. They want to promote themselves, make meaningful connections, and advertise their brand.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.