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

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:

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