A number of years ago, if you had to think of one item people most likely carried with them, a wallet would have been a pretty good guess. Today, you'd probably go with a cell phone, and – increasingly – you could even specify 'smartphone'.

In fact, smartphones are even replacing the trusty old wallet, as people can keep contact information and even use mobile payment apps to replace cash and cards.

Mobile: Taking over the world

Put simply, there's really no way to overstate how prevalent and popular the handheld devices have become over the past few years. In the United States, nearly three-quarters of the population owns the gadgets, according to analyst Horace Dediu at Asymco.

It's not just an American phenomenon: Forrester research released in August 2014 predicted that half of the people around the globe will own smartphones in just three years' time, an impressive growth from the 28 per cent of the population that used the devices in 2013. This trajectory will amount to 3.5 billion users by 2019, with low-cost data plans, mobile apps, messaging features, mCommerce and social media set to surge in popularity throughout the world as well.

That's why mobile tools have such great potential for a vast spectrum of industries and activities – including exhibitions and other shows.

As an event agency, are you taking advantage of the opportunities mobile has to offer?

What can mobile do for your event? 

So how can you leverage the mobile revolution and turn these fun, convenient, useful and ever-present devices into tools that boost attendance and engagement?  

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Social media. Although these platforms aren't restricted to mobile apps, they're certainly becoming popular and highly accessible through the devices. You can use social media networks to spread the word about your schedule, generate excitement and encourage engagement during and after the event itself. 
  • Registration and payments. Make it easy for people to sign up, buy tickets and register at the event by integrating these features into your website or providing a mobile app. This also offers a way for you to quickly consolidate information about your attendees.
  • Event information and maps. People are most likely already carrying their smartphone around, so they might appreciate the chance to pull up the event schedule or a map of the exhibition halls rather than picking up paper copies. You could even develop interactive features that use location information to help visitors navigate the event grounds. 
  • Reporting. When you connect with attendees through their wireless devices, you have numerous opportunities to collect information. This data can then provide valuable insights as you analyse your outcomes after the event. Some event management apps even provide real-time information, which helps territory managers and booth teams better handle traffic and personalise their interactions.