July 14, 2010
2 Event-Friendly Location-Based Apps that Go Beyond “Checking In”
Location-based services are the newest trend in social networking, and as such the big players in the space (Foursquare and Gowalla) are getting all sorts of attention and scrutiny. While many users of such services love broadcasting their whereabouts to their online friends and earning badges and titles of distinction in the process (Player Please badge, anyone?), others are a bit wary of them and their usefulness – and are especially concerned with potential privacy issues.
Businesses, on the other hand, are starting to find value of their own in using location-based services as a marketing tool. Even event marketers are starting to experiment with location-based social networking to promote a conference, specific exhibitor, or special sessions – something we did for this year's NAB Show.
The only problem is when it comes to events and conferences, services like Foursquare and Gowalla aren't quite ready for prime time. While the concept of checking in to an event or exhibitor booth in order to drive traffic and generate interest is definitely cool, the functionality is not conducive to a conference setting due to two big issues:
- A venue page is built based on a single address – where several different events may take place over time.
- Lack of interactivity and ability for attendees to do what they would be naturally inclined to do at a conference – network with each other.
Recently, I had conversations with folks from two different location-based apps that have set out to change all of that.
Location-based gaming app SCVNGR looks like it's really going places (and racking up some points at those places, too). The Google-backed start-up combines the concept of "checking in" to venues with the fun and interactivity of an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Players discover cool new places, find fun new things to do, share their activity with friends and can even earn virtual (and sometimes real-world) rewards. Upon visiting and checking in to a venue, users of the app are required to complete a "challenge", which could range from taking a photo to something more complex. Users can rack up points for completing challenges, which could be used to win prizes.
What impressed me most about SCVNGR is the applications in a conference setting are endless and benefit not only attendees, but also exhibitors. Conferences can create custom "treks" consisting of 20-35 locations, taking people on a certain path around the conference or expo. Imagine offering this to exhibitors as a value-add to drive traffic to their booths while interacting in a fun and engaging way with attendees/prospective customers, or even using this as a way to promote certain sessions or guide people through conference tracks. You might even create a social media hub at your event with a digital "leader board" displaying attendee names and their scores, along with photos that have been taken or other media created in the process.
It's free to create places and challenges at those places, however the creation of treks (what will link all those places and challenges together into a complete, branded experience) is only available to enterprise clients of SCVNGR. With the creation of custom treks come features like the leader board, an activity screen, analytics, game design and turnkey support.
Double Dutch is really touting itself as the location-based app for events, and for good reason. It's a white-label app that is custom-built for an event – which does away with the inherent issue I mentioned above with checking in to a conference (or specific location at a conference) with Foursquare or Gowalla. This means individual booths and sessions can be built into the app for attendees to check in to within the confines of the event venue itself, and they have the option of broadcasting their conference whereabouts to only other attendees.
Double Dutch can also be used by attendees to interact with each other and at different sessions. For instance, they can use it to rate speakers and even submit questions to them via RSS. A gaming element can also be built into the app and used in much the same way as Scvngr, incentivizing attendees with custom-branded stickers for completing tasks like checking in at exhibitor booths and sessions, taking photos and even rating speakers. For those of you in exhibitor sales and marketing, these stickers can be sold to exhibitors as a way to market their presence.
Double Dutch clients can also create leader boards and have access to an analytics dashboard to monitor activity, speaker feedback and how people are engaging with the app. They can also use the Double Dutch API to connect Facebook, Twitter and blogs to the app – allowing attendees to post their whereabouts and reviews to those places if they choose. The fact that it combines the gaming element with additional ways for attendees to interact with each other and with exhibitors and speakers makes this a valuable tool for event marketers.
Double Dutch is currently available on iPhone only at the moment, but should be available across all platforms soon.
I think both of these apps have massive value to offer for event marketers and organizers – both from an attendee and exhibitor standpoint. There are costs involved in working with both Scvngr and Double Dutch, but I also think the potential for generating ROI on either one is huge, not to mention the opportunity to engage attendees directly with fun games, event networking and built-in feedback loops.
Have you used either of these apps for an event? Tell us about your experience!
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Great post... didn't know about scvngr or double dutch!! have to check them out, I wonder if it could be something we could integrated into EventMobi as well without complicating it for attendees.