How TEDxBrisbane Connected Its Community with an Event App
When TEDxBrisbane first reached out to Attendify in 2016, one thing was clear: They wanted to support the dynamic connectivity of their vibrant community well beyond event day. While their ideas festival was already making a significant impact both locally and globally, they were still in need of a cost-effective and intuitive digital tool to amplify long-lasting attendee interactions. Enter the Attendify app.
How to engage attendees both digitally and cost-effectively
TEDxBrisbane does not take their tagline “Engineering Impact” lightly. The annual ideas festival, an independently organized and licensed TEDx event, showcases thought-provoking talks, demonstrations and performances in order to drive change both locally and globally. “The goal is to cover a wide range of subjects that foster learning, inspiration and wonder,” says the event’s Executive Director and Licensee Juanita Wheeler. “We want to provoke conversations that matter.”
Key to that mission is forming a deep connection between event attendees—a select group of individuals who are chosen for their ability to put the ideas gathered at TEDxBrisbane into action long after the festival is over. “We want ideas shared, connections made, and plans forged among audience members, speakers and the team that lead to an exciting change in the community,” Wheeler explains. “Our community is made up of people crazy enough to believe we can change the world, and we’re not kidding around.”
When Wheeler took over as director in 2016, one of her first agenda items was to move the event schedule from its printed format to a digital experience. “The reasons were multifaceted,” Wheeler says. “There was the environmental perspective, but we also thought that an organization founded around technology and design should be digitally savvy. It would also be great if doing so could save us money, although we figured a digital schedule would cost us more.” Finally, Wheeler’s team was looking for a solution that would not only help deliver a world-class TEDx event, but also contribute to the building of a “tribe of thinkers, doers and changemakers.”
Thus began their hunt for a mobile event app that fit the bill.
A mobile event app that doubles as a community-building tool
After researching a number of event app platforms—and even considering a custom-built solution—TEDxBrisbane decided to go with Attendify for their inaugural event app. “We’ve never regretted the decision,” Wheeler says.
At first, the event organizers were just happy the app fulfilled their initial requirements: They were able to kick their printed schedule to the curb for a digital agenda, the platform allowed them to gate access to event details so only attendees could participate, they could customize the interface with their brand’s look and feel, and it was easy to promote speaker bios and partners.
What’s more, the purchase price of the app was less than they were previously spending on a printed program. “As a community event that does not make a profit and works to make ticket prices as accessible as possible, we were thrilled at the price point,” Wheeler says.
But it wasn’t until the TEDxBrisbane team dug a little deeper into the Attendify app’s full functionality that they realized how it could amplify their work forging connections between members of their event community. “We were able to extract even greater value out of the platform once we embraced it as a community building tool,” Wheeler reports. Leveraging features like push notifications, the private social network and private messaging, her team began to take their attendee experience to an entirely new level.
Attendify is “an intentional part of our impact strategy”
Successful event ROI can be calculated in many ways. For the TEDxBrisbane team, Attendify’s app (and registration platform, which they later began using) became a critical influencer of attendee communication and culture. “The Attendify app—as an essential tool for building our community and keeping it connected—constitutes a very intentional part of our engineering impact strategy,” Wheeler explains.
Here are the top four ways the Attendify platform was a game changer:
- Streamlining operations: Push Notifications (which organizers can use to proactively message attendees) were one of the event team’s favorite features. They used them to remind attendees about session start times, send out inspirational morning messages, and even nag folks to wear sunscreen. “I remember the first time we used it to get people into the sessions,” Wheeler says. “Without saying anything, people just looked at their phone and started making their way into the theater. It was like some type of miracle telepathic instruction.”
- Boosting engagement: The app’s private social network allowed attendees to connect with each other and share moments that excited and inspired them. The TEDxBrisbane team leveraged the activity stream to answer attendee questions in real-time, and even prepped attendees about what to expect prior to event with helpful blog posts. The app’s adoption rate in 2018 was a whopping 99 percent, and attendees interacted with the app—including commenting, posting to the private social network, and sending private messages—more than 22k times (and counting)!
- Capturing data: While the community loved connecting through the app’s private messaging feature, Wheeler also used it to personally solicit feedback from every single attendee. Even though the event has doubled in size since she took the helm in 2016, sending more than 600 individual messages is still worth it, Wheeler says. “TEDx runs a comprehensive anonymous feedback program. But complementing that with a personal message asking for authentic, real-time feedback results in valuable information we use to enhance our event.”
- Post-event nurturing: TEDxBrisbane is committed to growing a community that extends and strengthens long after the event is over. While attendees also can connect via mainstream social media and other platforms, the dedicated TEDxBrisbane event app allows conversations, reflections and plans for action to continue post-event, and people who missed each other to reach out with ease. As a community-building tool, the app helps sustain engagement with both the TEDx community and TEDxBrisbane HQ, amplifying the event’s impact.
The Next Steps
A sneak-peek at TEDxBrisbane’s future: The sky’s the limit
As the TEDxBrisbane enters its fourth year with Attendify, the event team is excited to explore using the app’s Real-time Polling function as a way to vote for the People’s Choice winner in their long-running One Minute Pitch Contest. The new Group Chat feature could be set up by event organizers to promote collaboration between different event “tribes” (i.e., those interested in specific topics like education, technology or humanity).
“The product is great, and the service and support is exemplary,” Wheeler says. “Our team and our community love it.”
As for Attendify, watching TEDxBrisbane curate a truly unique event experience has been an honor. We look forward to partnering with them as they continue to spread ideas, build their community and change the world.