An event organizer is kind of like a bird in a way. You have a unique 30,000 foot viewpoint of your event. A point of view no one else has. You can see all of the moving parts when you take a moment to step back.
Your view enables you to see how all of the tiny details are completed. The details you can control. The badges are done. The catering menus are confirmed. The venues have been booked for months.
But there is something missing. The one thing you know you can impact, but you are overwhelmed by how to go about it. That one thing? That’s attendee engagement.
Mobile technology has come a long way in aiding the event management industry. Most event apps consider engagement as giving users the ability to ‘like’ sessions or receive push notifications. Those common features aren’t going to cut it when it comes to creating what conference goers demand: A more dynamic, truly interactive experience.
Here we would like to share 4 stories how our Whova customers were able to get attendees engaged and encourage participation through a few one of a kind features.
How the Event Community Board spurred attendee engagement
Organizers know when thousands of people attend a conference, they need a place to connect and post. With 8300 attendees, the organizers of the Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) needed a tool that aided organizers not only in managing hundreds of concurrent sessions but also communicating details to attendees as well as boosting audience participation in event activities.
Whova’s Community Board became a great centralized place for organizers to answer any questions from attendees when it came to logistics surrounding the conference. Organizers could engage attendees by closely interacting with them even prior to the event, and effectively collect feedbacks in real time. Attendees created over 12,000 posts to interact with fellow attendees with similar interests both professionally and socially all in one place.
In the Community Board, attendees are able to create groups around conference specific topics. NIPS attendee, Y. L. created a group around Deep Reinforcement Learning a few days before the conference took place.
People got really excited and 173 messages transpired. Y. L. proposed to meet up at a specific time to dive deeper into the topic: “There are around 50 people interested so far. Let me propose to meet Monday @ 1 pm at the convention center entrance, then go have lunch in several groups. During the reception, we can gather at several tables to chat.”
The Community Board feature goes beyond self-organizing groups around conference topics. NIPS attendees also self-organized socially.
Attendee Benjamin R. created a group called “Climbers at NIPs.” He said, “Say Hi if you enjoy climbing on rocks-indoors or out. I’m going to hangar 18 a few times during the conference – you should join!” People got jazzed about taking a social and athletic break to go climbing so groups within the group started to form around climbing. A few members were so excited to find climbing buddies they started a post-NIPS climbing group on Facebook for people living in San Francisco.
Attendees used the Community Board for lost and found items, ride sharing, job postings, finding mentors, etc. They didn’t get lost or feel lonely in a conference that large. Organizers were happy with the organic involvement of the attendees. Through connecting in the app, attendees created fun memories with new friends that they will have forever.
Effective announcement with over 75% open rate
A regionally based conference that had 600 attendees, the Minnesota Society for Human Rights Management Conference (MSHRM State Council) really took advantage of the announcement feature of the app.
Prior to the conference, J.D. started to send out email blast announcements, but quickly realized a very small percentage of attendees were opening the emails that contained important information. This isn’t surprising. In a study put out by MailChimp, the average event open rate is 21%. With Whova’s announcement feature, J.D. was able to send out his blasts not only through emails but also through push notifications at the same time with choosing that option. This spiked message open rates to over 75%, ensuring that conference attendees were getting the information they needed to have a successful and hassle free experience.
The announcement feature calms the stress of organizers when the inevitable last minute changes occur. When a shuttle gets cancelled or when room changes happen, organizers can quickly send out updates through the announcement feature
J.D. also used the app to send out answers to logistical questions that popped up throughout the conference. He noted frequently asked questions as he sat at the registration table and sent announcements to help conference goers navigate things like downloading documents, the wifi password, and conference hashtags.
He had a clever idea to further use this feature to announce raffle winners and engage exhibitors. Instead of having attendees (almost 600) gather in once place on a crowded expo floor and calling many winners, the organizer was able to notify attendees where and when to pick up their prizes.
Smart networking with new event technology
Strategic networking is a key element of a successful business conference and networking events. Maybe your attendees are still relying on a random luck to bump into future business partners, buyers, or employers during a coffee break, but our clients are able to take a different approach…
FortuneBuilders Real Estate Ignite was a business networking event. The attendees could connect prior to the event to start setting up networking meetings with SmartProfiles. This special profile was pre-populated by Whova and included professional backgrounds, recent tweets and relevant news/blogs and websites. They didn’t need to input all of the information by themselves, but simply edit what was already there.
With the in-app messaging feature, attendees privately connect with people, and the meeting scheduler gets a meet up in the books without the overwhelm of back and forth emailing. If they didn’t connect in person, they could scan and exchange business cards through the app.
In the end, the event was very productive. 99% of 1,700 attendees actively used the app, explored the SmartProfiles over 20,000 times and exchanged 6,000 business cards.
Live polling, the fun way to encourage audience participation
There are multiple ways to collect feedback with Whova. Options include mobile surveys and session ratings. Another interesting feedback loop is the Live Polling feature. The possibilities for live polling questions is endless, from drawing audiences’ attention to making an informed decision to adjust rooms or adjust the amount of food during an event.
For Dr. John Iversen, conference organizer for the Society for Music Perception and Cognition conference, used the Live Polling feature as a way to get to know his attendees better and increase audience participation. He liked better understood his audience. It was a great way to start building community.
Dr. Iversen asked questions such as “How far did you travel to get here?” How many past conferences have you been to?” Both of which generated hundreds of responses with the goal of attendees to start engaging with the app and with each other.
The most interesting response came when Dr. Iversen posed a question about the conferences keynote speaker, Diana Deutsch. She is a very influential figure in the study of music cognition. Dr. Iversen was interested in understanding how far her influence went, so he posed the question: “How did Diana Deutsch influence you to study music cognition?”
“She was shocked because over half the people in the field said she had some influence on them, which is pretty neat. It was a nice thing to be able to share with our speaker.” Dr. Iversen said.
Want to learn more?
As you can see, the Whova app’s unique features make it the stand-out choice when it comes to event engagement apps. You can’t ignore how it stands out not only with its features, but also it is rated highest in the app stores at 4.7 compared to other event apps.
If you are interested in increasing attendee engagement and keeping your attendees happy and connected, let’s set up a call and demo to talk further.