National Rural ITS (NRITS) 2015

Success story with Whova
MIT Tech Review EmTech Digital San Francisco 2015

Executive Summary

The 2015 National Rural ITS (NRITS) conference partnered with Whova to build a community within the event, and successfully increased their attendee’s engagement and networking experiences.


week to build the app

attendee profiles

Agenda views

Attendee views

About NRITS 2015

NRITS is an annual conference that brings together a set of traditional users (public and private transportation, safety service professionals) and non-traditional ITS ones (business and community leaders and emergency responders) to discuss and learn about the technical challenges facing the transportation community in the rural area of United States. The event also provides attendees an opportunity to network and share experiences within and across a wide variety of ITS disciplines. Visit more from its official site.


The NRITS 2015 is a relatively small conference with about 100-200 attendees (an estimated number before the event took place). Autumn Gilleard, one of the main event organizers, said “This past year I was given the task of finding an event app for the 2015 National Rural ITS (NRITS) conference. The ideal app would increase our attendee’s engagement and offer new networking experiences and opportunities…all while staying within a small budget.” Obviously there were several roadblocks ahead of her way.

  1. Search for an event app that meets the conference’s needs. As Autumn implicated, finding an app that facilitates attendee networking and engagement, while without costing a ton.
  2. Attract attendees to download the app. Though smartphones are popular nowadays, there are tons of mobile apps out there. Why should attendants download another app? It’s definitely another challenge.
  3. Increase attendee engagement and networking. Even if all attendees download the app, making sure they will use it and involve into the community is by no means easy.


Thankfully, with the unique values our product offer and prompt customer support, all the challenges above were well addressed. Here is how we did:

1. If nobody downloads the app, it’s just a waste of organizers’ money and efforts. To attract the NRITS attendees to install the event app, On one hand, our support team designed a set of materials (i.e. flyer, PowerPoint slide with useful information about the event) that is highly customized for NRITS 2015. The materials were used to introduce the Whova app to the attendees at the beginning of the conference. This strategy led to a lot of app downloads within a short amount of time. On the other hand, our Whova social media teammates also involved themselves into the event community on Twitter, sharing useful stuff and creating awareness of the conference app. Both efforts contributed to the app download rate! According to Autumn, over half of the attendees downloaded the app afterwards.

2. When built the Whova app, we bear attendee engagement & networking in mind from day one. That’s why once attendees download it, they’ll sure love it. We’ve developed so many features that tailor to attendees’ needs. For example, our cutting-edge SmartProfile technology made it possible to pre-load attendee profiles automatically, with a personal picture extracted from the Internet to match each attendee. This way, attendees can browse others’ profiles and select whom to network with. As you saw from the data showed above, there were 1402 impressions in total generated for Attendee Views in NRITS 2015. Meanwhile, we have a feature that enables organizers to directly interact with attendees – Announcements. Autumn used it to make several announcements. It definitely helped elevate the community engagement.


All in all, I think it was a success. Attendees were excited that they could easily reach out to their new contacts via Whova and not have to worry about writing down or exchanging contact information. They shared pictures of different activities they participated in. Vendors were able to share pictures of their booths and occasionally would have me make an announcement.

Autumn Gilleard

Organizer, NRITS 2015

That Whova app is better than I thought it was going to be.


NRITS 2015

The Future


As Autumn put in her blog: “Next year, sponsors can choose to sponsor the ‘event app’ for NRITS 2016. SCORE!” We all look forward to working with the great team for the upcoming 2016 National Rural ITS (NRITS) conference.

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