Does Your Show Mobile App Deliver Value that Prompts Attendees to Use It?

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

In the recently released CEIR report, 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study, sponsored by the Society of Independent Show Organizers, it is revealed that only a minority of young professionals, 26 percent, use a mobile app version of an exhibition program to plan and stay on schedule. These results are a big surprise. The adoption rate among young professionals is only two percent higher than what is recorded in the study looking at attendee needs and preferences in general, What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions.

And for non-users, the main reason isn’t because an app wasn’t available, only 21 percent say that is the reason. Instead more non-users either explain they prefer the paper version or dislike pulling down an app for a one time use or for this purpose in particular.

So, is this the final answer for mobile apps in the exhibition industry? I don’t think so. Mobile apps are relatively new to the exhibition industry scene. Though results suggest that to justify the investment in a mobile app, efforts are needed, perhaps user research, to help determine how to modify content in a way that makes an exhibition mobile app a “must use” resource when attending.

Or perhaps, if mobile apps over time are not used by enough attendees at a given event, is there another way to offer a digital version of an exhibition program that a majority of attendees will pull down and use actively when visiting? And is there content that will help drive content post-show?

In the short-term, why dismiss the power of the paper exhibition program? Are organizers abandoning too soon an option that offers ancillary revenue for their events? Recently in a session at the SISO Executive Leadership Conference in Atlantic City, Dan Goldstein, Director of Marketing & Communications at Integrated Systems Europe explained they have a printed show program; coupled with a digital edition that is highly successful in generating attendance, use on premise and sponsorship dollars.

Interestingly, at the time I was conducting the analysis for the young professionals study CEIR just released, I fell upon the following article from Fast Company. This article points to a video presentation at Google’s I/O conference, [where] Tomer Sharon, Google Search User Experience Researcher, broke down the age-old question: ‘Why is nobody using my app?’.

Tomer Sharon provides an outstanding overview on the best research approaches for mobile app development and testing. To access the article and video, visit:

2 Comments on Does Your Show Mobile App Deliver Value that Prompts Attendees to Use It?

  1. Thanks for sharing Nancy. At my company we found that the bulk of event attendees are passive and the incentives to download an app has to be well thought out.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    I stumbled up on this article during coffee break…interesting post even if it was two years ago.

    I’m also surprised to see that only 26% of young attendees actually downloaded and used the mobile app of the exhibition…that’s pretty low adoption rate. I mean, based on my observation on event tech industry. I read that the normal rate should be no less than 50%, otherwise the app is a failure.

    Also, I was wondering whether organizers of the exhibition have taken any actions to promote the mobile app. Because:

    #1: if attendees don’t get the benefits of the app, they probably won’t download it. Also, urgency is another factor. Imagine that there are so many apps in the marketplace, many of them are quite useful to our daily life and we indeed know their benefits. But have you downloaded all of them? Obviously not. Event apps are the same. If attendees don’t feel they would lose or miss anything, they won’t be motivated to take the time to download and use your event app. That’s why 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by users.

    #2: The FOMO effect. Basically it means people fear of missing out — it’s a psychology finding. When it comes to an exhibition, if everybody else is using a mobile app, those who haven’t will feel left out and they’ll probably take action. Not sure if the organizers have communicated with key influencers and have them buy-in.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts on your great article. If your time permits, I’d like to invite you check out an article we recently updated — 10 Effective Tactics to Increase Event App Adoption.

    It’s here:

    Have a great weekend 🙂

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