┇ Event Technology

Event Apps: Jack-of-All Trades or Master-of-One

White label or universal event apps?

By: Richard Kim
Tags: event apps, white label, ROI, KPI

Our industry is at the behest of futurologists who want to augment reality and subject attendees to biometric monitoring.

It sounds like every marketer's dream: creating an intricate mesh of KPI that can boil down behavior and feedback all the way down to the ebb and flow of heart and pupillary responses of potential consumers.

But until these apps that measure these minutiae can process useful data and present them in digestible packages, we will continue to look for simple event apps.

As the desks and computer screens of event planners and marketers approach the complexity of the dashboards in the cockpits of space shuttles, we naturally look toward technology to bring our chaos under control. And this is where we look for the Holy Grail of event apps.

​In 2014, MPI and DoubleDutch released a report titled "The State of Event Apps". Even after three years have passed, the findings are still eye-opening, especially when we look at what event planners are looking for in an event app. 1 out of 4 event planners replied that they did not have a mobile application for their event because they did not "currently meet [their] needs." This was the most popular response. The next two responses mentioned budget constraints and are probably intimately linked with the top response. I think this sentiment resonates with event planners today. Event management apps just do not feel complete.

Event planning must take many interconnected variables into consideration. And not only do you need a strong grasp on the dizzying details of your event, but you have to communicate these details to clients, suppliers, fellow decision-makers, sponsors, venues, and the list goes on and on.

Therefore planners look either for an all-encompassing app, one that can either accomplish everything like WeChat does in China, or they look for a few that serve one function perfectly with a silky smooth interface and a UX as intuitive as walking.

Given the complexity of the task at hand, I am going to assume that most event planners will not have the luxury of having an app that lets you have your cake and eat it too. Imagine an app that has CRM capabilities, keeps track of all bookings, manages payments, allows for data collection for the event (i.e. any information about attendees), and allows for sharing event details that increase attendee convenience. Now imagine how much that will cost. ​

​Understandably, priorities differ with the event planner and the type of event they are planning. And this is the reason WeChat-like apps will probably never take hold in the event world.

Perhaps the more interesting dimension is the argument for white label event apps (i.e. cookie-cutter apps that allow for marketers to rebrand a ready-made app) and for universal apps (i.e. a vendor-centered app that has more functionality and security, but does not allow for as much customization and branding). As many blog posts and articles are portending the death of white label event apps thanks to Apple's new restrictions, perhaps it is more important to reflect on these changes to see what effect they will have on the attendee experience.

There are clear pros and cons with either approach, but the ramifications for which approach you choose go beyond the one or two large events that you are planning at the moment. White label event apps are like disposable cups: they are easy to brand, not so pricey, and can be thrown away at the end. And so they are great for customizing for your particular event and keeping the costs of your event manageable and concise.

A Universal App is most powerful when it shapes attendee behavior and facilitates the attendee experience. And if the attendee is a frequent event goer, then it allows him or her to keep track of what events she's attended and provide feedback to the event planner. The event planner can communicate with the attendee beyond the boundaries of a single event and can also create a network of her own. Of course, if there are too many event apps, then this may annoy the attendee by crowding her phone, forcing her to create another slew of logins and be bogged down by an avalanche of notifications. ​​​

Obviously, if one universal event app reigns supreme, like Microsoft Windows or Google, then it becomes the lingua franca for event planners, and we will reminisce back to a time wondering how it was possible to manage an event without it. For now, we have the privilege of participating in the dog-eat-dog world of event apps.

Back to frontpage