By Jim Hennessey
The use of smartphones has spawned an amazing universe of mobile applications (apps) that entertain us, motivate us, make daily tasks easier – and even improve how we function as event professionals.
As of June 2016, there were more than 2 million apps available in the Apple App Store and a whopping 2.4 million apps available for Android via Google Play. And while the average number of apps that people have on their smartphones has remained at 27 for the last four years, the amount of time the average user spends on those apps has grown to a whopping 40 hours and 51 minutes a month.
While most of the apps used fall into the game, entertainment or social media category – an increasing number serve as valuable tools when it comes to event production and management. We asked some of our Event 360 team what their favorite and most used apps are when “on event”. Here is what we found.
The most useful on event apps fell into three categories – communications, travel and weather.
The Susan G. Komen 3 Day® team uses Ringya as an on-event team communication tool. According to Rene Tamayo, Tour Operations Manager, it is “great for combining all of our staff and crew contacts into one directory for use on event.”
“Ringya is great for communicating important real-time messages to folks out on the route or in camp,” Rene said. “The contacts section of the app allows us to provide a title/role for each person.”
Trip Case and Around Me are two of our team’s top travel apps. Trip Case organizes all of your travel itineraries, flight and hotel information in one easy place. Around Me, according to Molly Fast, Local Operations Director for the Komen 3-Day, provides a quick and easy way to find local services like post offices, hospitals, gas stations and restaurants.
Weather Underground is especially useful when you are dealing with lightning, Rene said. “The app provides the distance lightning is from you and also provides striking distance information.”
Cyrena Hillyard, our Director, Creative Services, likes Weather Kitty because, “It’s free and adds a cute photo of a kitty based on the weather forecast.” She also pointed out that there is a puppy version.
Almost everyone on our team mentioned one app that they couldn’t live without – and that was the smartphone’s camera. Our team uses the camera app to text pictures on remote portions of a course, document incidents like broken pieces of equipment, or simply to track receipts for expense reports.
“I find the camera the most useful app on event,” said Patrick Riley, Event 360’s Vice President of Account Management. “Recently, a teammate needed to scout a site that connected to the festival area for an upcoming event. Instead of the teammate flying into town, he asked me to drive to the site, since it’s close to me, and I walked around the site using FaceTime so he could virtually, visually scout the location.”
“On another event, I needed to follow up with a participant regarding a fundraising award and took a quick picture of his event bib as a way to remember,” Patrick said.
We also know that sometimes, on event, our team needs a little fun and relaxation. So we asked our team for their current “guilty pleasure” apps on their smartphones.
Janelle Benuska, Account Manager for the Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival, admits to not using too many apps, but likes Skype, for keeping in touch with family – especially four-year-old daughter, Bird, while on the road.
Other favorite non-work apps include Twitter, Instagram, Pokémon GO and games like Candy Crush, Scrabble, Abble Dabble and Neko Atsume.
“My favorite app right now is theSkimm,” said Katie Zupancic-Wymer, Consumer Marketing Manager, MuckFest® MS. “It helps keep me up-to-date on current events and pop culture in a digestible format with a voice aimed at female millennials. The app has calendars that pre-populate my calendar, so I stay informed.”
As for myself, my guilty pleasure apps are Shout! For Messenger and Strobe, which allow me to add custom GIFS and visuals to my social media posts! On event my go to app is Layout from Instagram, which allows me to produce multi-photo blocks and collages for use in our client’s social media.
Jim Hennessey (LinkedIn, Twitter), is the Director, Consumer Marketing at Event 360. He leads the marketing and social media strategy for MuckFest® MS and works with other organizations including Bike MS and MMRF Team for Cures 5K with digital marketing and social media strategies to support their peer to peer events and fundraising. Jim lives in Chicago.