Blogger: Ellen Matheis, coordinator of web solutions at Messe Frankfurt, Germany
Apps have become an integral component of the marketing and communication services offered by trade fair organizers. What are the advantages of trade fair apps for exhibitors and visitors, as well as the added value for organizers?
Which mobile offerings are now a must-have for organizers of trade fairs or events?
All digital services including web sites, exhibitor searches, trade fair maps, business matchmaking portals, newsletters, online shops for services, and of course event apps are now the standard. All these mobile offerings provide added value, new marketing opportunities, business opportunities or business contacts.
The objective of apps consists of providing the entire digital offering to trade fair visitors and exhibitors in a convenient form even when they are on the go, and especially when they are moving about on-site at the event. Everything at a glance and all the important information at the right time. At Messe Frankfurt, we are adapting the individualization options such as filtering and sorting features to the app format in response to the widespread use of smartphones. Basically, all the information provided in the exhibitor search on the www.messefrankfurt.com website is also available in the app in optimized form for mobile devices.
What added value do apps for trade fairs offer visitors and exhibitors as compared to a website?
Apps offer a wide range of content in a compact concise format. They are easier to use than the mobile version of a complex website in the small window of a smartphone browser. Our event apps also include offline features, which means users don’t necessarily have to be connected to the internet to use them. This is especially attractive to trade fair visitors from abroad.
Exhibitors can also use additional services in the app including ads or beacons to stand out from the competition at the on the trade fair site. Beacons provide an excellent way for exhibitors to contact visitors directly. These small devices send radio signals to all smartphone users, who are using the app and are currently within range of a stand equipped with the beacons. Exhibitors can use this for lead generation, marketing measures such as coupon give-aways or for transmitting product information directly to the smartphones.
Do apps serve to supplement or replace other trade show and event marketing measures?
It is important to always view apps as supplementing other measures. It is possible to reach additional target groups with digital products and generate another form of attention not only during but even before a trade fair.
What insights have you gained from using apps?
We are of course interested in knowing how many visitors use our app and what content or features are most frequently used or not at all. From this, we regularly derive further development measures including usability improvement, new filtering and sorting options and new products such as the “trade fair innovations” feature, which exhibitors can book to distinguish themselves from the competition and gain attention for their company and their products.
For example, based on usage analysis, the most recent update to our Heimtextil Navigator app includes list of favorites integrated in the map of the exhibition grounds to add even greater convenience and flexibility to planning the trade fair visit. By simply tapping on the word “Fairground”, users can quickly click their way through halls and levels, thus tremendously simplifying navigation of the trade fair site. It is also possible to copy events into one’s own calendar using the app to avoid missing out on points of interest at the fair.
How interested are exhibitors in promoting themselves and their products in the trade fair apps?
The response to our services is very positive, but varies widely depending on the trade fair. Each industry has its special characteristics, which is also reflected in the extra services booked. Therefore, our apps not only provide different content for the individual trade fairs, but also a range of features tailored to each industry. We thus remain at the cutting edge and integrate the requests, suggestions and critique of our customers.
How do you position yourself with regard to mobile services as compared to apps that exhibitors offer themselves?
If you look at the goals of exhibitors and trade visitors with regard to the trade fair, then it becomes apparent that the requirements of an app differ significantly. Exhibitors want to attract visitors to their world of products and services. Visitors want to be able to quickly gain an overview of the fair. Our goal is to provide added value to both target groups. And we’ve laid the foundation for this with our new Heimtextil Navigator app. We’ve place the focus here on business matchmaking to provide trade visitors and exhibitors an event more efficient way to meet up.
Exhibitor apps usually pursue an entirely different goal than our event apps do. The focus here is clearly placed on the exhibiting company and its own products. Nevertheless, we see additional potential in our event apps using app-in-app offers, for example. We will be continuing to think in this direction in 2017.