With so many people trying to do their part to slow climate change, a paperless event just makes sense.
Many attendees now expect eco-conscious planning. By running a paperless event you not only give attendees what they want, you reduce your event’s environmental impact and—by avoiding printing costs—save money. It’s a win-win-win.
Here are four steps to help you reduce paper, reduce waste, and save money with a paperless event.
No. 1: Do a print assessment
The first step in planning for a paperless event is to understand just how much you print. Start by building a list of everything that you print for an event and the costs associated with them. Think of all the catalogs, maps, registration sheets, brochures and so on.
How much does it cost to print these materials?
Below is an example of costs associated with printing materials for an event.
Estimated Costs for Printed Materials
*prices reflect volume discounts from Vistaprint.com
Now take a deeper look at each piece and ask yourself — do we need this? Is it helpful? Does it provide value to attendees? Make a note of which pieces are must-haves, nice-to-haves and unnecessary. Consider removing unnecessary pieces from your event materials.
For all of the remaining materials that you have marked as must-have and nice-to-have, consider whether you need to print them or could they become paperless?
If you feel some pieces must be printed, your strategy for them should be consolidation. Can you combine menus for the entire event on one page rather than a page for each day? If you have two or more maps, combine directions to local hotels, attractions and the airport on one.
2. Select the mobile event app
Selecting the right mobile event app is a huge factor in a paperless event’s success.
A great event app comes down to two things: features and ease of use. A fully featured app that requires a software developer to create can be prohibitively expensive and take more time than you have to produce. One that needs a sophisticated tech consumer to use will not get enough buy-in from attendees. Similarly, an event app that is easy to create and use but has limited features is going to disappoint or frustrate attendees.
In determining which mobile event app is right for you, you first need to understand your needs and your attendees’ needs. Many apps contain the basics like maps, schedules, bios.
But if you have multiple tracks for your event, not all apps can accommodate that. And some apps cannot be updated in real time, so if there is a change to an event time or location, you will not be able to communicate them easily and widely. The most comprehensive and sophisticated apps are customizable, provide for multi-track scheduling, offer push notifications and opportunities for networking and social connections, and engagement.
All the features in the world mean nothing, however, if the app isn’t easy for you and attendees to use.
Yapp allows event planners to customize and instantly publish an app in minutes with no design or coding skills or experience. And users report that it is engaging and simple to adapt and use.
3. Get Attendees on Board
All attendees will have certain expectations of the event planners. They include receiving a schedule of events, speaker bios, a map, travel information to and from locations, and fun or useful swag.
For people who expect all of this to come in printed materials packed into a conference tote bag, change management is going to be an important part of a paperless event.
Start by understanding the benefits the attendees will appreciate. Is your audience enthused by green initiatives? Are they cutting-edge information consumers that would seek updates in real-time? Are they social butterflies that put a large value on networking and connecting? Focus on how an event app will help them leverage what they want most from the event itself.
Next, understand the fears attendees may have about the change. Are they not tech-savvy? Do they worry they will not be able to get wifi? Do they fear their smartphones are not up-to-date? Are they afraid they will not be able to find help onsite? Help alleviate fears by giving early access to get comfortable with the app, providing help text and videos, and onsite help.
One of the most important steps to change management is preparing people early. Plan to announce well in advance that the event will be paperless and why. Describe the benefits and address the concerns.
Before you announce, however, make sure the event app is ready for use, even if it doesn’t have the full complement of information, such as every speaker bio or photo. The moment you announce will be your peak opportunity to introduce the app to the attendees, so make sure it is available. This will give people the opportunity to download the app at their leisure, test it out and play with it before your event. The more familiar attendees are with the app before the event, the stronger the adoption rate will be.
4. Train and Designate Onsite Help
To help make sure that the attendee experience is a good one, be sure that there is plenty of support from your app experts on event day. It is inevitable that there are going to be attendees that aren’t as comfortable with the technology as others and will need some help. For these people, a little help goes a long way in raising their confidence and adoption.
Start by training all of your event staff on the app. Their familiarity with the app will put attendees at ease. You may consider multiple designated attendants at peak registration times to ensure the easiest rollout and then locate a central spot where attendees can go at any time during the event if they need tech support.
The designated support people should have downloaded the app themselves and be familiar with it, and they should know how it works on both iPhone and Android.
Having onsite support will go a very long way to transition attendees from hesitant to confident and ensure a better overall event experience.
Whether your goal is to reduce your event’s environmental impact, save money on printing costs or both, Yapp can help. See how Yapp can save you thousands on printing costs and bring your event into the 21st century.