Q&A: The Event App Experience
DoubleDutch recently spoke with Gabrielle Williamson, Head of Employee Communications for National Grid UK, about her experience using the DoubleDutch mobile event app for the first time.
Tell us a little bit about your event.
“The A-D Leadership event is an annual conference for 1,500 UK-based National Grid leaders. Run over two days, the event objective is to bring leaders together to focus on National Grid, our ambition and key business challenges. This year the event took place on 25-26 March 2015.”
Why did you choose DoubleDutch as your app provider?
“DoubleDutch offered National Grid the best opportunity to engage our leaders pre- and post-conference with a structured and intuitive app solution.”
How did the app features improve your event?
Which features were most important to you and the event?
"The most important features in the app were the Activity Feed, Exhibition stand features, the agenda and the ability to bookmark sessions.
We have to run our Leadership Event over two days due to the large number of leaders who attend, so day one and day two are exactly the same. Since the app was live for both days, the delegates coming on day two were able to follow along with day one. This got delegates really excited, so we saw even more engagement from delegates on the second day of the event. Next year we hope to launch the app even earlier to effectively start the conference from the office and maximise engagement."
How were exhibitors and delegates both able to use the app?
“Exhibitors were able to attract traffic to their stand by posting in the Activity Feed, and incentivising delegates to stop by. Delegates were mostly looking at the agenda to find out where they were expected to be next, details about the time sessions started. They were also checking and posting updates and photos to the Activity Feed.”
How did you promote the app to participants?
“Before the event we had a leadership call led by our Executive Director who set the context and objectives of the event and gave a teaser about the app. We then sent each delegate an email with the download instructions. At the conference itself we used the “Game Day” feature, which projected the Activity Feed and leader board onto screens in the reception and breakout area, which drove even more interest among delegates.”
How did delegates and exhibitors respond to the app?
“Really well – in fact some of them are looking to use the app at other future internal events. We were nervous that a lot of older, long-serving leaders would be sceptical about the value of the app, it would be too new a concept and would take a while to use… but to our delight, even those without a compatible company device brought their own iPads and made a point of getting involved. We had a helpdesk at the reception too, to help delegates get started.
We were thrilled to see people getting energised and participating in the event-app-conversation from the moment they registered!
National Grid has a long-serving and loyal workforce; it’s not unusual for employees to stay with us for many years. A large proportion of the leaders at the A-D Leadership Event are highly technically, educated, professionals.
We’re now seeing a shift to a younger, more diverse Leader. We knew the Y generation would be excited about the app, but we were thrilled to see even C-suite executives actively using the app. before, during and after the event.
Our UK Executive Director called this conference the beginning of the ‘New World Order’, bringing the generations together. The app helped us to achieve this.”
Was there anything else about the app that was pleasantly surprising?
That you weren’t expecting?
“The most surprising thing was the level of engagement.
Since this was the first time we had powered an event app, there was some scepticism that our delegates wouldn’t want to engage with this new technology. But we could not have been more wrong – both engagement and adoption were exceptionally high.”
What were the results of the event app?
“There was an 86% adoption rate with 1263 delegates using the app. There were an average of 161 actions per user and a total of 202K+ in-app actions. In the delegate app survey, 39% found it very useful; 31% fairly useful; 19% useful. This is all very high when benchmarked with other events of a similar nature and size.”
Do you plan to use an app again in the future?
“Yes – We have a separate Leadership event in November and have already booked the app for this!”
How will you use the app differently in November?
“This event has a different objective, has a smaller audience and won’t have an exhibition. Based on what we’ve learned, we’ll launch the app earlier to build up momentum and increase adoption. We will also focus on using the in-app polling for the planned Q & A session.”
Will you be using the data from this event app to inform the app strategy
for your next event? If so, how?
“Yes. We have learnt a lot about delegate preferences, how to set up the app for maximum usage and have a greater understanding of the appetite of our leaders to use and engage in Social media!”
What delegate preferences did you discover?
“They aren’t as opposed to social media as we thought; they were very interested in being together in the app community, networking not just in person but online too.We also learnt that we can try new things, and now are pushing ahead with an Enterprise Social Network community internally.”