One of the biggest challenges that event planners face as a whole today is how to personalize the event experience for delegates. The goal of most events is to provide relevant content to each individual, and to make sure they walk away with one or more key messages. The more relevance you can provide and the more personalized your communication is, the more chances you have of achieving that goal.

The question of course is how to personalize the event experience and the event communication towards each delegate. There are two secret ingredients to the magic potion: first of all, you need a communication channel, and not just any. You need a one-to-one communication channel, available before and after the event, and most importantly during the event. Second, you need data. Before you can personalize, you need to know the interests and context of each delegate. Let’s cook the potion, one ingredient at a time!

Your one-on-one communication channel: a mobile event app

By offering your delegates a mobile event app around your event, you’re not just providing up-to-date information and interactive features. You’re essentially opening up a one-on-one communication channel that you can use to reach out to each individual before, during and after the event. Your event app can have for example an “Inbox” where you can deliver messages to attendees with up-to-date information such as session changes or updated travel information. And you can send out push notifications, to alert attendees that the plenary session is about to start or to promote a sponsored session. An event app offers a direct and efficient communication channel on the event floor.

Delegate data – know your delegates

As we said before, in order to provide more relevance, we need to know the interests and context of each delegate. In many cases you will have basic information available, for example in your CRM system. Your CRM data can be linked to your event app, in order to start personalizing the event experience. For example, based on the role or segment of the delegate, you might show a different agenda in the app. Analysts may be invited to an analyst briefing, while technical people will be able to register for a technical workshop. Further more, you can offer different features in your event app based on the user’s role. For example your sponsors may have a lead scanning feature in the app, that they can use to scan badges with the camera of their smartphone.

User profiling: big data technology at work

All great, but your CRM database might not go beyond the role and industry of your delegates. Or even worse, what if you don’t have a CRM database, or you are inviting delegates that you don’t know yet ? It’s clear that we need another way of learning the interests of each person.

This is where the event app can play another important role: the app can act as a sensing device, that learns the interests of the app user. This technology is called “user profiling”, it means that we build a profile of each delegate, based on their activity at the event. Here is how it works: each time a delegate visits a session, views content in the app, requests a brochure, bookmarks a speaker or takes any other action, a score will be applied for a certain topic. Let’s say I am looking at a session in the app on network security. In the background, may scoring on “Security” will go up with 1. And let’s say I attend a session two hours later on security best practices. My scoring on “Security” will go up with 5. This user profiling process goes on throughout the event, and soon reflects my favorite topics as a delegate. Next, big data technology will aggregate all those scores and decide the optimal content and message for each individual. The result is that I might be invited through a push notification for a closing session on Security, while another delegate will receive a relevant notification on a different topic. The result is personalized messaging tailored to the actual interests of each individual.

Context-aware communication with iBeacons

Remember marketing saying that we should deliver the right message at the right time and place ? User profiling technology allows us to deliver the right message. However, we need to deliver our messages at the right time and place as well. In other words, we need to know the context of our delegates as well. Again, your event app can play an important role here. New technologies such as iBeacons allow us to learn the actual location – or in other words context – of each delegate. For example when a delegate visits a booth from a sponsor, and stays on the booth for more than 2 minutes (the so called “dwell time”), we can use this information to provide relevant content in the app from the sponsor, for example a brochure or whitepaper. When a delegate is inside a session, this is a good sign not to provide additional information until the session is over. iBeacons allow us to know the actual context of our delegates, in order to deliver the right message (“Discover our whitepapers now”) at the right place (a booth of a sponsor) and the right time (when the dwell time is at least 2 minutes).

From content to interactions

And it doesn’t stop there. By combining delegate user profiles with real-time context information, we can create unique interactions that did not exist before. Think about a Match Making feature in your event app, that will match delegates based on their physical location, their profile and their interests. For example investors could meet startups around them, annalists could meet technical evangelists and customers can be matched with product specialists based on their personal product interests.

It’s clear that smart event apps, powered with user profiling technology and context-sensing capabilities, will dramatically change how delegates experience your event, whether it’s a conference, a tradeshow or a corporate event. Event apps will not “just” be a digital guide to the event. Apps will provide personalized, relevant and context-aware content and interactions, and will bring unique value to each delegate, so they will never forget your event!