For both brands and ticket-buyers, customer experience during the event is undoubtedly the most important aspect of any festival. But increasingly, the digital world is becoming inexorably intertwined with the physical experience itself, as a tailored event app brings the festival to the smartphone.
Event apps have long since replaced paper maps for many brands, allowing customers to stay up-to-date on festival announcements in real time, compare schedules with friends, and even find lost companions, usually without needing a phone signal once the app is downloaded. Beyond convenience, event apps help paint a data picture for brands, giving them insight into where customers eat and drink, who they watch, where they shop, how they pay, and how long they spend in each area they visit.
That’s all invaluable information for any brand looking to enhance customer experience. But, as Intellitix found out when we talked with Drew Burchfield, co-founder of white label festival app developer Aloompa, it’s also invaluable for increasing revenue streams through new sponsorship opportunities and post-event content strategies, which help keep people engaged even after the festival is over.
For instance, the LiveStory app will “tell you where you were and which acts you saw” once the festival is over, Drew said. “They have their profiles on SoundCloud or Apple Music integrated into it so that you can listen to their tunes. For EDC Orlando, that was also sponsored by a brand, so you can see that there is additional scope within the app to generate revenue.”
With all these capabilities, it’s no surprise that event apps have been embraced by so many of the biggest festivals and event promoters in the world, including Live Nation, Insomniac, Pukkelpop, Outside Lands and Ultra. Brands like these rely on third-party creators like Aloompa—as well as the Antwerp-based Appmiral—to create seamlessly branded apps, unique to each event.
But new App Store rules could change all that.
Unveiled at Apple’s recent developer conference, a change to the App Store Review guidelines has the events industry in a “panic,” says Event Industry News. The change comes with rule 4.2.6, which states that “apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.” This is basically the technology giant’s way of trying to cut down on the number of clone apps, which by using templates, spring up like wildfire around popular apps like Angry Birds in an attempt to capitalize on their success.
But this may also unintentionally (or intentionally) affect white label event app providers. As Event Industry notes, Apple may consider white label apps from third parties like Aloompa and Appmiral “spam,” and instead insist they list every event under one umbrella “vendor app.”
Derrick Stomp, co-founder of Appendee, told Event Industry News the vendor app solution will be welcomed by customers who don’t want to “download an app for every single event,” as his company has observed.
“Since our launch in 2011 we’ve been focussing on an event app platform that contains events, easily accessible by attendees. Of course with your own branding and styling,” Derrick said. “We see the policy enforcement by Apple as a confirmation of our own vision, and an encouragement to launch our new premium app label Appendee as soon as possible.”
Appendee will be launching the Appendee Unite app by January 2018.
But it’s also easy to see some brands not quite liking the idea of asking customers to access a vendor app just to access their event, especially if it’s mixed in with the competition, despite the promise of reduced approval time when submitting your content to the app store through a vendor app. Ultimately this inconvenience will be passed on to the consumer. The industry won’t be reverting back to paper maps and guidebooks anytime soon, but any disruption to the current process could result in event giants like Live Nation, LiveStyle and AEG simply developing their own app portals which house individual events.
Though there is a chance that this report is largely alarmist. TechCrunch reports, that “assembly suites or app-creation tools probably don’t have anything to fear from these new rules unless they’re in the business of pumping out nearly identical rubber-stamp apps.”
We’ll report further on the app store policy changes when its impact becomes clearer.