Eventbase - Personalizing conference experiences
A strong advantage of event based applications is the fact that the environment and agenda is highly predictable. Throughout this case study I strived to capitalize on this unique chance.
Eventbase, a company that builds applications for large-scale events such as SXSW and Salesforce, had tasked me with developing a way to increase user engagement. The goal was to allow users to engage with the application and create a seamless transition between what's happening at the conference and what is available in the application.
The application has a truckload of features, the problem is the navigation is massive, with even more features buried at sub-levels of the application.
Before even starting the process of redesign, I wanted to understand why people attend conferences and what they hope to get out of the conference by the end. In this way, I surveyed 100 people, half of which are entry to mid-level in their career while the second half are senior to upper-management. My hypothesis and reason for targeting these groups without getting too granular here was to see the different goals depending on the stage of their career.
We can see that everyone regardless of their roles is interested in the exhibits and networking with others, but this is the only commonality. Many people in the early stages of their careers are coming for keynotes, presumably to learn more and also find new career opportunities.
On the other hand, we have the senior-level folks who are attending with the agenda to learn more about their competitors as well as market/sell their products.
There is a huge advantage for event applications that many other products don’t have the luxury of having. The event organizers with the application not only have details into every attendee's schedule for the entire duration of the event, but they also control the physical environment for the attendees.
On top of this, the application already uses Bluetooth beacons to help the attendees navigate, however these beacons can be utilized to enhance conference experiences.
Many features to be discovered are for specific times in the conference if we utilize the schedules, location, and happenings nearby - these features can be discovered through notifications.
The above shows a bare minimum attendee journey. There will obviously be more repetition of the middle three steps. The goal here is to show that, through the beacon technology, attendees agenda, and their purpose for visiting the conference - the experience can be highly customized to each individual.
We will cover just a few of the ideas for each of these steps.
Many attendees will either be driving or staying in hotels nearby, in either case if the users location services are on and they are within a certain distance of the venue, or simply by the first item on their agenda we can suggest a few details.
- If they located at known nearby hotels that have shuttles, the app may let them know about the timings
- If they state they are driving, nearby parking options can be listed
- If public transportation and walking is an option, directions may be given
Due to the size of some conferences, and some spanning multiple buildings - it's also important for them to know which building to go to for their first keynote, the nearest registration point and so on.
When a keynote on an attendees conference is about to begin (or depending on their location), it is important that the application lets them know that from their current point they have an estimated walking time before they will reach the right hall.
Once they arrive at the hall, the application will let them know they have the option to take notes, follow the speaker, or know future talks and events.
If the attendee changes talks, for example they decide to go to a different talk instead — because of the beacon technology, we can let them know they are in the wrong hall and they are missing their agenda. If they are swapping the talk we can automatically update their agenda and place the notes they take in under the right keynote.
Networking & Exhibits
In between keynotes and other scheduled agendas, the application may recommend people to network with. If two people agree to meet each other, a meeting point and time would automatically be designated
When visiting vendors and exhibits, an option to learn more about the company, take notes, and save exhibit organizers details will be given. This allows for people to have a greater connection with the exhibits and understand the purposes. Based on beacon activity, popular exhibits could also be suggested.
This is also a prime time for the product product to utilize additional monetization methods. Exhibits may sponsor themselves to be at the top of suggested lists and food vendors or external restaurants can sponsor themselves and offer special deals through the product.
At the end of the day or at the end of the conference, a summary of all the exhibits, speakers and people that were met could be available on the application. People that need to be followed up with, or companies you may want to explore.
I believe there is huge potential for the product (Eventbase) to go beyond the eventbase. At it's current state, people download a conference application, use it during the conference then delete the application afterwards.
If eventbase itself has a core application that grabs the data of a user, and the application has it's own version of SSO, users can continue to use the networking features with people they've met across all conferences, follow speakers and know what future conferences they are speaking at, keep a record of conferences they've attended and so on.