Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 2012

Working Smarter: About Those Apps

By Sarah Beauchamp, Assistant Editor

SCVNGR, Foursquare, and QR codes were all the rage when we first wrote about them. How useful are they to meeting professionals a few years later?

Over the last few years, we've reported on a variety of geosocial and other mobile apps and their implications for meetings and other live events. Now that the geewhiz luster has worn off and the apps have been field tested, how are they holding up?

SCVNGR

When we first covered SCVNGR in November 2010, the app's presence at the 2010 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) was a huge success. Since then, SCVNGR has helped make "gamification" a meetings buzzword; and recently, the company raised $12 million to take LevelUp, its new mobilepayment app, national. (LevelUp shows potential for trade-show exhibitors, consumers can pay for products and services directly from their smartphones by linking the app with their credit or debit card.) Throughout the industry, planners are using SCVNGR to create "treks", mapped-out routes that lead attendees from one challenge to the next. Similarly, the Myrtle Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau launched three SCVNGR treks this past May that offer an interactive way for visitors to explore the area.

But SCVNGR's growing popularity has a downside, at least for IMTS. "When we featured SCVNGR at the 2010 IMTS, we were used as a free beta tester," said Lee Anne Orange, special projects manager at the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). "SVNGR was out of our price range this year." So for the 2012 IMTS, which is being held this month in Chicago, AMT is making the jump to another geo-social app: Foursquare. "We're a nonprofit," Orange said. "We try to do what our members can manage, and Foursquare for IMTS was only $10", that is, in order to "claim" the venue in Foursquare's system.

Foursquare

Speaking of Foursquare, Convene first looked at that in July 2010. The app has evolved since then. As opposed to making an entire venue a "check-in," Foursquare now allows exhibitors to create check-ins at their individual booths and alert attendees to their location on the show floor. The app has also added features including picture-taking capability and tip lists, which provide information about particular booths, businesses, or venues. "I already have several exhibitors who are planning on making check-ins for their booths," Orange said.

QR codes

QR codes, two-dimensional barcodes containing links to URLs, have come the longest way. (Read one of our articles about them, from December 2010.) The Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) has used a continuously updated QR code for the last two years to communicate with the dispersed crowd at its annual meeting, and next year will take it one step further. "We're planning on using [QR codes] on an individual basis," said Adam Sanders, CACDS's communications specialist, "putting one on each booth with information about each company, making it a more interactive experience." 

Sidebar: Breakout

The Next 'It' App?
Localmind, a location-based question-and-answer platform, allows users to ask questions related to specific locations; other users who are actually at those locations can respond. At South by Southwest (SXSW) 2012, Localmind helped make communication between attendees at the film, interactive, and music conference and festival seamless, allowing them to ask one another questions about line length and how good a particular event was. Learn more about the apps at SXSW 2012.

More Resources
Read the HubSpot Blog post on "9 Ways B2Bs Can Excel With Location-Based Social Media", including at conferences.

Working Smarter is sponsored by the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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