How IMEX Keeps Thousands of Attendees Engaged and Informed

 

With 12,000 people roaming the vast expanse of the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, the IMEX 2017 organizers needed tools to make the experience easy for attendees to navigate—and to ensure that none of them felt like just another number. DoubleDutch is an exhibitor at the event, the largest annual U.S. trade show for travel and event planners, and we also created the IMEX event app this year. (The app debuted at IMEX Frankfurt during the summer.) We got to see firsthand how a mobile event app can help solve some of the common logistical and communications challenges that attendees face when they’re at big events.

Navigation help: Finding a booth in a 1.8 million-square-foot convention center is a classic needle-in-a-haystack problem. When we began working with IMEX to support this year’s event, we recommended our interactive map feature. In the IMEX app, attendees could type in the names of the nearest booth and the booth they wanted to visit. The app then offered walking directions to the desired booth. I used this feature to get around the convention center, and I saw lots of other people using the map to save time and stay on track.

Attendee support: At large events, it’s challenging to find information desks or guides. Organizers can use their apps to answer many of the common questions that drive people to seek out help on the event floor—so the more information the app holds, the better. It’s the little things like bathroom locations and Wi-Fi passwords that attendees find valuable. If the app can answer these questions, you save people the time it takes to find, and then stand in line at, an information desk.

Streamlined activity feeds: Event profs who produce large events can grow concerned that too many posts in the app’s activity feed will overwhelm attendees, leading them to tune out of the activity. At small events, organizers often have the opposite problem—they want to encourage posts to increase engagement, which we can do by adding gamification and leader boards to the app. IMEX attracts a highly engaged (and immense) audience, so we didn’t need to incentivize people to comment. We suggested that IMEX drop the gamification features for the activity feed so that attendees would see fewer posts. Even without gamification, the activity feed attracted more than 1,000 updates and 40,200 views.

In-app session reviews: At smaller events, paper review forms and post-event emails might be all that’s needed to collect feedback on sessions and speakers. But with 12,000 attendees, paper and email is time-consuming to collect and analyze—plus, people may forget what they thought was good or bad within a few days after the event. We suggested that the IMEX organizers activate the app’s “Rate and Review” feature to get feedback while it was fresh in attendees’ minds. We also suggested that about five minutes before the ends of their presentations, speakers add in slides reminding attendees to go to the app and rate the sessions. It’s a good way to get speakers involved in soliciting feedback.

We were pleased to see that 5,300 IMEX attendees downloaded the app and took advantage of features like agenda lookups and interactive maps. It was a great event to attend, and we were thrilled to work with such a talented team to help make it a success.