How to Develop an Event App: A Step-by-Step Guide

The article was updated on May 27, 2020.

There are hundreds of sporting events, exhibitions, festivals, conferences, and meetups held daily around the world. They can be dedicated to different causes and involve people of various demographics and interests. One thing they have in common is that all of them can benefit from using technology.

Event planning apps have proven to be a powerful means of engaging an audience, delivering a better experience, as well as optimizing efforts as an organizer. It is no surprise that the event technology market is set to grow by 10.65% from 2019 to 2025, according to Mordor Intelligence.

With all the possible business models, niche markets, and even audiences that can be targeted with an event planning mobile app, it might be hard to get the ball rolling. To help you make sense of the event planning app development, we have prepared a comprehensive guide, breaking down the major steps and aspects of the process.

So, keep reading to see how to develop an event app from the ground up.

Event app comparison: the benefits, major types and use cases

Using event apps is common now – 80% of attendees would use an app to check-in, explore the event space, get answers for simple questions with a chatbot, etc. According to the same source, mobile apps will gradually become an integral part of any event because Millennials and Generation Z constitute the majority of the events’ audience.

The main event apps benefits for event planners and attendees:

  • Simplifying the attendees’ experience: buying a ticket, registering, and checking-in within one smartphone tool makes the process more convenient.
  • Networking is the main goal for lots of events, and mobile apps leverage this opportunity: people can communicate with their potential business partners or simply find people with common interests. Event apps can also prolong networking opportunities, and as such, an event’s lifecycle. By increasing networking capabilities, event planners can strengthen their ability to promote future events.
  • Applications enhance the client’s interest before the event even starts. For example, discussions on a certain subject can increase the attendees’ engagement, while giveaways usually help promote the event. Other options include live streams, G&As, contests, etc.
  • Anything happening on the event’s Facebook or Twitter pages can be broadcast to the app with the social media synchronization feature – it also makes the organizer’s routine easier and keeps the event’s information up to date.
  • Event apps are strong promotional instruments for speakers and event sponsors: apps provide a separate section for more detailed information about speakers, while sponsors get the in-app sponsorship space.
  • Planning becomes easier if event organizers use one particular app with a full set of features instead of switching between several tools.
  • Event apps help analyze the event’s results with a real-time feedback feature: event planners do not have to use additional poll platforms to gather reviews and opinions.
  • Detailed analytics help organizers make conclusions about their planning and marketing efforts, and positive results help build credit for the sponsors.

Event app types and use cases

There are multiple variations of event management apps which can be roughly classified depending on the following four factors.

1. The purpose: Event aggregators (e.g. local event apps like Eventbrite) vs dedicated event apps (e.g. the iBurn app for the Burning Man festival).

eventbrite-app

Events aggregators include numerous events from different organizers (publishers). Each publisher, in turn, invites attendees to the event. Dedicated event apps have only one organizer who plans events for a particular company.

2. The implementation: Whitelabel solutions that can be customized for every event (e.g. Attendify) vs custom-made event apps (e.g. Sziget festival mobile app).

White-label solutions are like a clean sheet of paper, and organizers can draw any event they want on it. Custom event apps can be created with a style that aligns witt the company’s image, web design, etc.

Strictly speaking, event aggregators are white label apps, while dedicated apps have a custom design.

attendify-app

3. The audience: Apps for event participants, focusing on networking and schedules vs event management applications for organizers. For example, Whova offers both the attendee-facing event planner app as well as convenient event management tools.

whova-event-app

One more event management application worth mentioning is Bizzabo. The cloud-based platform built by our team at Eastern Peak is an all-in-one event marketing solution for event organizers.

The product features an intuitive interface for creating marketing emails, dedicated web pages for agenda, user registration and promotions. There’s also a dedicated dashboard for tracking user engagement, ticket revenue and attendance rate.

View a video testimonial below of the Bizzabo event marketplace – the world’s fastest growing event technology company that empowers event marketers to manage, measure and grow professional events across the globe via their online event platform.

 

4. The event type and scale: from global conferences and forums to local meetups or even private events like weddings or corporate parties. Take for example the following:

  • conference planning apps
  • company event planning apps
  • party planner apps
  • wedding event planning apps
  • festival guide apps, etc.

Apart from that, apps for events have a huge number of use cases. They can be utilized to sell tickets, help attendees find their way around, deliver timely information about activities and schedule changes, and connect participants with each other.

They can even serve as a mobile wallet allowing attendees to make purchases. There are so many opportunities to tap into, but for now we will discuss developing an event management app (we will delve into the features a bit later in the article).

Event planning app development, explained

Each of the above-listed event planning application types and use cases has its own specifics in terms of implementation. For those who want to create their own event app, here are some basic aspects of the process to keep in mind.

1. Find your purpose

As with any app, you need to first of all understand what you want to build and why. Figure out the basics: come up with a solid concept, identify and research your target audience, understand their needs.

The market for event planning apps is quite saturated, so get to know your major competitors, before you start building your product.

event-planning-app-development

2. Consider the implementation options

What do you choose: a web-based or mobile app? Or, maybe, both? If we are talking about ticket purchases, a website might be a more convenient option. When your users are on-site, right at the event, a mobile app would be preferred.

One more argument in favor for a mobile app is its ability to work offline. Most of the information about the event, including maps, schedules, info about the speakers, etc., can be stored locally for offline use (while with a website you will always need Internet connection).

With respect to mobile apps, you can choose to go with native solutions or develop a cross-platform one. While both options are possible, native apps offer significantly a faster and smoother user experience, unlike hybrid app solutions.

Read more: Native vs cross-platform app development – How to choose?

 

3. Finalize your requirements

Here’s when you need to choose the most fitting event management app features (and put them in writing in a form of functional specs).

Considering the great variety of event planning apps, the features might differ in terms of the business model, purpose, or use case you choose to target.

However, here are 7 basic functions that every event app should contain:

  1. Ticket sales, including payment processing and issuing e-tickets.
  2. Mobile check-in so the attendees can use the app as a mobile pass.
  3. Geolocation will be of use from the very beginning – event guests should know where exactly the event will take place. Here you have to integrate your event planner app with map services like Google Maps.
  4. Interactive venue maps with indoor navigation capabilities are particularly important in labyrinth-like spaces during big events. In this case, AR is a great helper. You turn on the app and see the venue with added arrows and pointers leading to a particular space. Google Maps mentioned above is the first step in implementing AR maps.
  5. Event schedule, including detailed info about speakers. A good idea would be to offer some customization options, e.g. create a personal schedule by picking the events you want to attend.
  6. Networking features: social media integration, creating and sharing digital business cards (for example, using QR codes, as in Line messenger) etc. You can go even further and expand the AR user experience: people can open the app and see virtual badges and name tags with their smartphone cameras.
  7. Push notifications for real-time updates, location-based messages, and reminders.

event-app-features

On top of that, certain types of event planning apps can benefit from adding additional useful features. Here are numerous others for you to consider:

  1. A place for attendees to communicate with the speakers before/after the event, ask questions, etc.
  2. Live streaming options for people who bought tickets but couldn’t attend the event (this could be a good monetization idea too!).
  3. Personal mobile wallet for purchases at the venue. This is a useful feature for festival apps – you put money on your app account and pay at the venue without hassle.
  4. Gamification features: quests, polls, and achievements to engage the attendees.
  5. Data collection and processing (be aware of the GDPR limitations though, only collect the data you really need and always get the user’s permission first).
  6. Customer help and feedback, in case there’s no one around to help your attendees out.
  7. Virtual presentations bring standard public speeches to a new level. We have got used to  screens with pictures and videos – now imagine the same in the AR or VR. It makes the presentation easier for speakers because they can demonstrate their work more efficiently, while the audience will hardly get bored during the speech. It works the same way as for when sales managers demonstrate products at a trade show. Potential customers get an idea of how the product works as well as more details that may be impossible to demonstrate with other visual material.

Yet, those features are relevant only to the customer-facing apps. As for the organizer’s staff, they might use some sort of event planning app as well.

For example, in the event app for organizers they should be able to accomplish the following:

  1. Access information about each attendee instantly to help them find their way around the venue.
  2. Manually check-in the attendees who don’t have the app.
  3. Run polls and surveys during the event.
  4. Respond to the participants’ requests in real time.
  5. Communicate with each other for better coordination during the event.
  6. Analytics for event organizers provide all the vital numerical data for the attendee’s journey: the number of clicks (taps) on the event, the event’s revenue, how many users buy tickets per day, etc.

 

Please note: The listed features only cover the basics. To create your own event app, you have to keep in mind your business needs and the specifics of your product.

 

event-planning-apps

4. Design, build, and test

Once you’ve finalized the vision of your product, you can move on with the development. While the process itself is rather generic, there is a couple of aspects we would like to call your attention to (and help you save your time and money in the long run):

  • Start with creating a visual prototype to see your concept “in flesh” and test it out with real users.
  • Iterate your way to the launch: break down your project scope into smaller, more manageable pieces and move step by step. Thus, you can implement changes along the way without having to rewrite half of your app’s code.
  • Test while you build (or even before). The test-driven development (TDD) principles are widely used to ensure that the software meets the set requirements, both in terms of its business logic and quality.

 

Read more: The benefits of rapid app prototyping

 

5. Launch

The main problem with event planning apps is that you can’t actually see them in action before the event. No simulation can prepare you for the moment when users start actively interacting with your product.

This means it is crucial to have your tech staff ready in case something goes wrong during the event. Solid tech support is a must for a product that is as time-sensitive as an event app.

Plus, you should think about how to promote your event app long before the release: use your event website, and offer special perks at the event for app users. Simply make your product an invaluable addition to the event experience.

Read also: Post-launch checklist for your app release

 

event-app-monetization

How to Monetize Your Event App

The idea of creating an app for your event is a good one. There are numerous objectives you can achieve with custom app development. Plus, event organizer apps can turn out to be an additional revenue source for your business.

Namely, here are the most common monetization options for event management apps:

  • Make it paid – the most straightforward way to make money with your event planning application. In this case, you have to deliver real value to make your app worth the money. For instance, your app can offer some extra features including a VR/AR experience, serve as a pass to a lounge zone where you can chat with the speakers and network, or guarantee additional perks, such as skip-the-line or free coffee. This approach is a good answer to the question “How to promote an event app”.
  • Adding small service fees to your ticket sales. This is the model most event aggregators use. For your own event, it makes little sense to place additional fees for purchasing tickets using the app. On the contrary, you can offer a discounted ticket price to give the attendees one more reason to install your app.
  • Place ads for the attendees to see while navigating through the app. Those can be promotional banners from the sponsors or any products showcased on the event (depending on its type).
  • Capitalize on partnerships. For example, you can integrate with ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft so that the attendees can get a ride to or from the event without leaving your app. Similarly, you can partner up with other local businesses and offer special deals or discount packages for all event attendees.
  • Turn your app into a white-label solution and sell a framework for other event organizers to use. For example, if you have built a really nice wedding event planning app, the chances are you will only have to use it once. Why keeping it for yourself when you can customize it to other people’s events and earn some money along the way?

 

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Create your event app with Eastern Peak

So, whether you are an event planning professional willing to optimize your efforts, a business planning to organize a series of events to fuel your growth, or an entrepreneur looking for new and exciting opportunities on the mobile development market, event planning app development might be just the right investment for you.

How to get started?

The product discovery phase is the best first step you can take to lay a solid foundation for the development of your app. It includes a functional specification, UX/UI design, and a visual prototype that will give you a clear vision of the end product. On average, this phase takes 4-6 weeks.

The product discovery phase can help you:

  • define a full scope of work and develop a roadmap for the project
  • set a realistic budget for your MVP and plan your resources
  • test the waters with your audience using a visual prototype
  • craft a convincing investment pitch
  • get to know your team

We at Eastern Peak can help you make sure your effort won’t go in vain. By hiring our dedicated development team, you will get all-round support with every aspect of the process: from the idea and its validation to its design, development and further support.

To discuss the possibilities within the event app development and receive expert advice, book a free consultation with one of our senior project managers now, or simply give us a call at +1.646.889.1939.

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