Hоw to Make a Mobile Conference or Event App: Features and Costs
Mobile applications became an integral part of almost any party, fest or conference. Yet, with the latest ban on app-builders many people were left bewildered, having no idea how to make an event app. But keep calm as today we’re going to make everything clear!
Nowadays it’s possible to create a mobile event app for any occasion: from elections to your grandma’s birthday party. Smartphones and the Internet have radically changed the way we communicate and interact with each other so it’s absolutely expected that this social sphere won’t stay aside. Looking for proofs, huh?
That’s what event planners say:
- 91% noticed a positive return on investments from such apps.
- 60% saw an improvement in the engagement of event attendees.
What about visitors? Let them better answer for themselves:
- 60% actively use their devices during meetings and events.
- 88% claim event apps to be “extremely important”.
Sounds convincing, doesn’t it?
Yet, with the 2017 App Review Guidelines from Apple, event app development became… we won’t say more difficult, just different. Previously, DIYs and auto-builders with pre-composed sets of templates were commonly used to create mobile apps for events, but now such applications won’t even make their way to the App Store. You can read more on this topic in our article here:
At the end of that article, we advised you to build a native and customized application and enjoy the benefits of such an approach, instead of making it up with templates. So let’s review what features are essential for tailor-made event management apps.
📱 Top 9 Essential Features for Mobile Event Apps
Before you build a local event app, it’s important to define a comprehensive list of features that you’re going to include for your event planning. Most often, they don’t differ too much from one app to another. And I mean it.
That’s exactly why App Builders started springing up like mushrooms after the rain. Sacrifice uniqueness and User Experience, but get cheap event apps that look exactly like hundreds of others. Taking into account, that a conference (or any other custom event type) usually lasts just a couple of days - sounds like a reasonable option to consider, huh? Anyway, as we mentioned earlier - thanks to Apple that’s a story from the past.
In this article, we’ll tell you about the common set of features for most event mobile planning apps. Let’s get it started!
“What? Where? When?” Team
If you’re wondering what the 4 most popular questions about any event are, here you go:
- What is this event about?
- Where will it take place?
- When is it going to happen?
- Who will be there?
A good event management mobile app answers these questions. If it doesn’t — its value drops to zero. That’s why the Stormotion team believes that an event schedule, a program preview, and a map are must-have parts of every event management app. Let’s quickly review them.
This feature may sound obvious to you but it’s really difficult to underestimate its importance. Unless you don’t want your attendees to come a day after all fun took place.
There are 2 ways you can follow to implement the schedule feature in your mobile application:
- If your event doesn’t have too branched timing and it’s only the start/end time that matters, it may be enough to create only a separate single line somewhere on the main screen for this purpose.
- However, if you’re building a mobile app for conferences or festivals which often include many different activities which can even go in parallel with other ones, it may be reasonable to develop a separate screen with a detailed timing (or update the program preview with it). That makes event planning for users much easier.
One more thing: don’t forget that users should be able to schedule your event in their external calendars (Google Calendar, Facebook Calendar) with just a few taps. Now these apps are essential for personal event planning.
It's also great if the feature can work offline as not every attendee may have a good Internet connection during the event. Yet, since this is quite important information, they should be able to save it and access it any time.
You can improve UX with a built-in countdown timer that shows how much time is left before your event starts.
A lot of people will make a final decision on whether to attend your event or not after viewing its program. If it includes something interesting, something that resonates with them, they will definitely try to find an opportunity to come.
Yet, it doesn’t mean that the program preview has to occupy too much space in the app. When we’re talking about concerts, discos or birthdays - the whole description may take just a few sentences and it will be more than enough.
However, if we consider fests or conferences that can last up to several days, event app developers from Stormotion recommend building a separate screen where all activities and inner events will be listed.
This feature will be useful for all attendees but it becomes a real problem solver for ones who come from other cities or countries. That's why it often can be found in different event apps.
Except marking the place of the event on the interactive in-app map, you can also:
- Create an inner map with points of interests if the event takes place over a large area.
- Implement live directions to guide attendees in real time.
- You can also make it work offline so people can use the app to navigate even without a connection.
Every event mobile planning app must meet two main requirements: be informative and entertaining. A News Feed can help to cope with both.
On the one hand, it keeps users updated with the latest information on changes in the program and other announcements so they can’t miss anything important.
On the other hand, it’s a convenient way for organizers to share photos, videos, interviews and other interesting and valuable content to keep users engaged and heat them up before the event. Event planners can also share posts made by your attendees in the app’s feed to set up even stronger bonds between visitors and your event.
When we’re talking about a deeper emotional connection of attendees with your event, it’s also reasonable to mention the matchmaking feature as an essential feature of your event app. They’re usually used in apps that provide for fast and intensive personal communication (like in speed dating apps, for example).
The feature that lets users check who is also going to visit your event and start a chat conversation with them is a great addition to the mobile application as it connects people with similar interests.
Moreover, new networking opportunities found through the app will increase chances of visiting your party, fest or conference and improve the overall experience of attendees. And that's what all organizers want, isn't it?
A list of speakers is an absolute must-have for the ones who want to develop a mobile app for conferences or another event type (like fests with open-air lectures).
The technical side of this feature is pretty simple. Actually, it’s just a separate screen that includes text, photo elements and links to profiles on social networks. So the main challenge about it is the creation of a beautiful and comprehensive visual design for your event app.
Tickets booking feature
You may also consider your event registration app as a powerful and useful tool for optimizing event planning and management processes. For example, instead of looking for an offline location, printing tickets, hiring a cashier - and all these require investments - you can implement a venue booking right within your app!
The built-in booking feature not only allows to reduce the spending but also provides users with new possibilities. In this case, they can buy tickets with a few taps when they’re at home or in the office.
Events usually involve many people of different age, sex, interests, levels of education and so on. It’s just impossible to foresee what questions they all may have. What’s even worse about it for organizers: if something remained unclear, many would prefer just not to attend your event at all.
Not a very good perspective for you, isn’t it?
Moreover, your attendees may face some troubles during their visit. You may argue that good old hotlines still work well. No, actually, they don’t.
So make sure your visitors can report or ask something with a few taps right in the app. This can be achieved with a pretty simple customer support SDK. And, of course, take care about a response speed.
In almost each of our articles about different kinds of mobile apps, we mention push notification as an effective retargeting and marketing tool. Alerts about important announcements, reminders for scheduled events, notifications about new messages in the in-app chat - all these tools help to constantly stay in sight of users and keep them involved.
Moreover, you can set up automatic notifications that don't require ane extra management from your side. Thus, they'll be automatically sent to your app users in the needed cases.
According to Localytics Data Team, you can reach up to 88% engagement boost with push notifications.
So these were 9 features that are commonly used in the event app development. But how much will it cost to build a mobile application that includes them? That’s what you’re about to find out!
💰 What About the Event App Development Cost?
As always, we remind you that each case should be treated individually. So if you’re looking for an accurate estimate of an event planning mobile app, contact us and we will provide you with an estimation within 24 hours.
However, I have also prepared an approximate estimation together with our developers from the Stormotion team so that you have at least a rough idea of the possible cost.
We used React Native as a framework to build an app for both iOS and Android apps with excellent native user experience. Here’s what we’ve got:
Note: we took an average rate of $40/hour but it depends on many different factors so don't think of it as the final price.
Therefore, it will take about 8-10 weeks to build such an event management app. With a typical hourly rate (for Eastern Europe) of $30-$50, the event app development cost for both platforms starts from 10,000$.
Before we come to the conclusion, I also have 4 tips for you, that will help you to manage the event planning app development process in a proper way.
💡 4 Recommendations for You to Follow by The Stormotion Team
I have a harsh truth for you: it’s not enough just to put the mentioned above 9 features together to get a brilliant event planning app. Here are 4 tips to understand how to make an event app of top-notch quality.
Advice # 1: Build the App around Your Event
Or, in other words, treat each case individually. The main problem of different event apps builders was the lack of uniqueness. Yet, you don’t cook a soup and a pie using the same set of actions and groceries, do you? So why would you build an application for a two-day music fest and a book sale in the same way? Every event requires its own approach.
Therefore, I urge to think carefully about your event at first. And only then move to the event app development stage.
Here are examples of questions you can ask yourself:
- What is your target audience? What can it expect from your event app?
- What do you expect from your event app?
- What features are the most essential for you and what are superfluous?
- How are you going to connect your brand with the app?
- What activities should be available for users?
Advice # 2: Take your Time
Despite it doesn’t take much money and time to develop conference or event apps, don’t take this carelessly. Your development team will need about 8-10 weeks to deliver a pixel-perfect customized application, so you have to start all preparations even earlier.
Moreover, don’t forget to run a promotional campaign for at least a few weeks before the event. One of the main reasons why attendees don’t install the application is because they just have no idea that it exists. Make sure you solve this marketing problem on time and not after your app development finishes!
Advice # 3: All Eyes on Interactivity
No doubt it’s handy for users to have all necessary info (like a schedule or a program) on a mobile application. Yet, if the list of features ends at this point, do not expect your attendees to check it oftentimes.
The easiest (and proven!) way to maximize engagement is to make your application interactive. Polls, quizzes, pose questions, gamification elements - all these work well when it comes to encouraging engagement.
Advice # 4: Think Consistently
Our last recommendation to you is that you shouldn’t think of your app as some separate product. Consider it as an integral part of your project that aims to improve the experience of visitors. This means you should think what value can it offer before, during and after the event.
For example, before the event starts you can encourage users to be more active by raffling off some nice gifts and benefits (for example, free coffee during the break or a personal consultation with one of the speakers).
Also, don’t miss the opportunity to utilize your app during the event. You and your speakers can collect real-time feedback on the quality of the speech or the whole conference. Gifts also work well at this stage. Actually, everything that makes users interact with the mobile application at this stage creates a more positive experience.
Afterward, you can turn the app into a communication platform where people will be able to contact speakers or each other and share their thoughts and feelings, find new friends or, who knows, start a long-lasting partnership.
With about 2.46 billion social media users in 2017, you should also pay attention to this segment of the Internet. You can get fresh and honest feedbacks through your Twitter account as well as collect organic photos from Facebook pages and use them in your application.
With Apple’s new guidelines it became hard to use app builders - the main “source” of event apps until recently. What is the solution? Yes, custom & native app development.
Possible expenses are not as big (even comparing to app-builders) as they may seem: from 10,000$. But like the old tagline from Mastercard: “You can buy an app. User experience? Priceless”. Joking, it’s our motto ;)
If you have any questions regarding the conference or event planning app development, don't hesitate to drop us a line!