There was a lot of tech on the show floor at Expo! Expo! yet not a lot that stood out to me as being new or innovative. I’m not saying the tech was not good or useful, just that I’ve seen it all before. But the following are a few exhibitors who really stood out for me.

GenieMobile

The Expo! Expo! show floor had several different app providers. Unfortunately for me, many excellent apps are out of my small conference budget. When I bemoaned this fact, the good folks at ASP suggested I check out GenieMobile. They knocked my socks off! While they do provide full service for their clients they also have the option for the conference organizer to build their own app. And boy is it simple to do. You simply drag and drop the modules you need, upload your content and submit to all the appropriate platforms through a simple click.

What really impressed me was, nothing was lacking in functionality (see what it can do) due to this simple usability. The conference organizer is able to fully brand their app so your conference app looks very different from someone else’s.  GenieMobile also makes it very easy to incorporate branding opportunities for sponsors which helps offset the cost.

Two highlights for me were the social media integration into the app and their show floor mapping feature. My exhibit space is easy to navigate but if your show is big, your attendees will love this map. You can tag favorite exhibitors which show up on the map highlighted. This makes it very easy to see where you need to go once you are on the show floor. But that’s not it! Let’s say your attendee is in the XYZ Co. booth and wants to go to the ABC Inc. booth. They click the navigation button and it maps their route…and highlights all their other “favorited” exhibitors on the way so they don’t miss anything and optimizes their time.

I honestly cannot say enough great things about these guys. Their app is fantastic and the reps I met at the show, Michael Douglas and Matt Glavin, were wonderful fun people. There’s a lot to be said about working with people you like.

ASP

Best event websites ever!  These guys make websites we all wish we had…so now you can and we have no more excuses!  (I wish that IAEE would have contracted with ASP for their event website. While there was a lot of information on the show website it was not easy to navigate. Nothing was very intuitive and features like the Deal Center were not even accessible via the website menu.)

I’ve been very impressed with ASPs websites since being introduced to them this year. It is clear from the start that ASP understands the event business. Their event sites are easy to navigate and they are very intuitive. They are made with the attendees’ needs at the forefront. This means the conference organizer’s needs are naturally satisfied. An easy to navigate site means less phone calls from frustrated attendees who are not able to find the information they need. Or worse, potential attendees who just give up in frustration.

Their sites also include beautifully designed ways to highlight exhibitors and sponsors. This is a huge benefit to the conference organizer because it provides valuable exhibitor and sponsorship benefits that we can monetize or pass along as part of our standard offerings. These are not just banner ads but a placeholder for quality content that our attendees will actually look at and find informative.

They also make it very easy for the conference organizers to accumulate and curate content which is crucial to us these days. These are websites that are not just made for a moment in time but something our attendees can go back to all throughout the year.  I really encourage you to check them out and see a demo.  You’ll be blown away by how beautifully designed an event site can be (and should be), how easy they are to update and of course fully optimized as well.

Again, these are great people who would be a joy to work with.

a2z Inc.

A theme emerges…more great people and I’ve actually worked with a2z on one of my conferences.  a2z announced several new features at the expo this year. One that I absolutely loved was their attendee acquisition widget. Studies have shown time and time again that we get our best attendee referrals from our exhibitors. a2z makes it simple for exhibitors to do that with their attendee acquisition widget. The widget is easy for the exhibiting company to incorporate into their website and allows the potential attendee to register for the conference directly through the widget. The widget also gives the organizer the ability to track exactly which attendee is coming through each exhibitor. We can then create rewards for exhibitors who bring these valuable attendees to our show like priority points.

You spend a lot of time working with your app provider and I can tell you, yes talent is very important but so are personalities.  These guys were a joy to work with.  There is a lot of information you need to provide to them with deadlines attached in order to get the app loaded on the platforms you need. With all the other deadlines you have to juggle, things could easily fall through the cracks. a2z makes sure that doesn’t happen. They gently nudge you along when you are coming close to missing your deadlines and go out of their way to make things easy for you.  They certainly did for me!

Long Beach Area Convention and Visitor Bureau

In the great people department, I’d also like to give a shoutout to the kind folks at Long Beach, CA. I bumped into one of their booth staff outside of the exhibit hall where we chatted a bit. Just small talk really and during that chat I mentioned I had to go find a place to get a charge on my phone. IAEE did provide several charging stations but I did not feel comfortable leaving my phone by itself while it charged. Long Beach offered an extra outlet to charge my phone while I wandered about. It also gave me an excellent excuse to hang out in their booth and hear all about Long Beach (very smart exhibitor).

Turns out they are an excellent location for the types of smaller conferences that I produce.

Those are just a few exhibitors I thought really stood out and had something that got me excited.  I’d be interested in hearing what others at the show thought stood out on the show floor.  Please add in the comments below.  But please, no product pitches here…just comments on what stood out…unless you are one of the above mentioned exhibitors…then I gladly welcome you to add a few nuggets!