Today, the event planner has more tech options than ever, so going paperless is a natural transition. The days of boxes and boxes of posters or walking around a venue with a large binder are over. Not only is paperless a more eco-friendly choice, but it’s one that everyone from sponsors to vendors to attendees will appreciate. Change is hard, but this one just makes sense in today’s mobile world because almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet computer handy at all times. How does one get started in the switch to paperless events, though?
Highlight the Environmental Angle
One event with 1,500 attendees can generate as much as 1,800 pounds of paper waste. That doesn’t even account for the time it takes to collate and organize the various paper products and the other resources like water that goes into making them.
Just pointing out the environmental savings is enough for most participants to get on board. Marketing the event as “eco-friendly” will stand out to potential attendees, too. According to a 2015 online survey conducted by Nielsen, most millennials consider sustainability a priority when shopping. They will appreciate the effort the company makes on the part of the environment, as well as having less junk to carry around and dispose of during the event.
Get the Event Participants on Board for Paperless
Make a list that points out the benefits of the paperless campaign and how they affect each vendor or sponsor, such as lighter loads when setting up and lower marketing costs without the expense of printing brochures, business cards and other paper products.
If necessary, offer free training on how they can get the most from the event app, so they understand the technology fully prior to the show. Include them in a drip-feed email campaign designed to introduce the features of the mobile app and why it works better than paper options like handouts or schedules.
Finally, make paper a “by request only” choice, one that costs more. This gently encourages even the most reluctant of participants to consider the mobile app. If they have to put extra effort and money into using paper products, they are more likely chose the paperless option.
Make the Mobile App Appealing
Not all attendees will appreciate the switch to paperless, so give them a reason to use the mobile app for everything. For example, an automatic discount on their first purchase or access to mobile-only deals gives back to those willing to use the app. Online coupons for free drinks are a big hit, for example. Event stakeholders easily make up the cost of these specials when there are less paper and printing costs.
Make Access to the Mobile Event App Effortless
The more attendees see about the event app, the more likely they are to use it. Start with the pre-event marketing campaigns. Point out that this event provides a money-saving and easy-to-use app.
Make the app available from the minute they buy a ticket, too. If they buy ahead of time, event planners can use the app to provide important updates and to build excitement. Send push notifications every time a new speaker or sponsor is added, for instance. Make sure ticket holders understand how to opt-in for push notifications, too, and why they want them.
Set Up Visual Reminders to Use the App
Create reminders to attendees as they walk through the event to use the app. They should see the first one at the door. Put information about the app on any banners or signage scattered throughout the venue space.
Provide On-Site Assistance
Make sure the staff and vendors know how to use the app, so they are able to help the attendees get access. They should be able to walk up to anyone involved in the event and get assistance. If possible, have a central location for tech help and ensure everyone involved knows to direct attendees there if they have problems accessing the mobile app.
Make Session and Vendor Handouts Mobile
Session handouts provide a valuable takeaway, so why not make them mobile, as well? That way attendees can sit back and enjoy each workshop and class without scrambling to take notes. It also gives speakers an extra marketing tool when they include their bio and contact info as part of the mobile handout.
Vendors can use this feature to provide information about their company and products as well. Since attendees are using smartphones anyway, event planners can encourage companies to keep the paperless strategy going by posting QR codes that users can scan to get more information. Instead of posters or banners, they can use projectors and monitors for booth promotions. The event planner can maximize their effort by branding cooperating companies as a green or eco-friendly exhibitor.
Ask for Mobile Feedback
Leverage this technology to find out what worked and what didn’t for each event. Gathering data via an event app makes it easy to analyze and learn about future events. Make sure to reward each user that offered feedback in some way, too. Maybe an online coupon for a cup of coffee or a discount to the next industry event.
Taking an event paperless is not only the responsible choice, but it is one that will appeal to the target audience, exhibitors and sponsors if done right. It starts with finding the right event app for a smooth transition from expensive print assets to cost-saving paperless strategies.