Mobile event apps are quickly becoming table stakes—attendees want to consume information on their mobile devices, and you want to simplify communication. Lucky for you, gone are the days of expensive custom app design.

With modern tools like event-specific app templates and easy editing tools, you can have an event app up and running in a matter of days or even hours, depending on content.

An event app’s real value starts to shine when you consider its abilities outside of simply replacing a paper program. In this quest for attendee engagement and personalized experiences, not only are mobile apps fundamentally changing the way events are run, but they’re extending the event experience beyond the confines of the event itself. Here are the must-have features as you look to create and improve your mobile apps.

1. An event app should include rich content. It should be a formidable replacement for anything that you could create on paper. Your app needs clear schedules; lists of information like speakers, sponsors and vendors along with accompanying photos and links; and dynamic content such as a daily weather forecast, or an interactive map to all event locations, lodging and recommended restaurants.

2. An event app should communicate in real time. An event app should allow non-technical users to make changes on the fly and instantly publish updates like schedule changes. Also, a good app is a portal for messaging your attendees as a group, so a reliable mechanism for sending push notifications and in-app messages—room changes, speaker updates, weather reports—is a must.

3. An event app should facilitate connections. Networking is high on your attendees’ list, and most are looking for a simple way to connect and share contact information with like-minded folks. They want to check in, request meetings, post opinions and photos, “like” sessions and specific pieces of content, and much more. Be sure your app supports that desire to network, enabling your attendees to maintain connections beyond the event itself.

4. An event app should provide data about the event itself. As a touchpoint for virtually every aspect of the event, a mobile app is great for collecting data—user engagement, session popularity, advertising click throughs—that was previously difficult to obtain. App data should help you measure sponsor and attendee value, and offer insight into how to improve your offerings year over year. In-app surveys and polls also provide a direct channel for learning how people experienced the event—their opinions are the key to unlocking better events!

Author: Matt Keowen, VP of Marketing, Guidebook.