The Fate of the Lost Participant

Wander the hallways or pathways at any large event and you are likely to see four different types of attendees:

  • The lost attendee, squinting over a much-folded map, trying to figure out where they are and where they need to go.
  • The frustrated attendee, trying to find where their seminar was moved to because it was still listed with last month’s information in the program.
  • The aggravated attendee, upon learning that the speaker or presenter had an additional seminar they could have gone to if they had only known.
  • The fourth type, the attendee that figured it out, is sitting down, thankful that they managed to get a seat after almost not finding the right place.

If this sounds like an all-too-familiar scenario at your events, maybe it’s time to look into changing how you let people know the who, when, and where.

In the example above, the lost attendee is a step up from many, since they have managed to hang on to their map.  At this point, the text is fuzzy and there’s a tear at one of the folds, but at least they may be able to figure out where they are and where they need to be.

The second attendee, above, is frustrated because they didn’t see the post on the kiosk, which they hadn’t passed by. The kiosk which held the updated location on the featured speaker. This attendee is playing an increasingly frustrating version of “find where the speaker went.” Each location has a piece of paper telling them where their speaker has moved to. If they are lucky, they might just be able to find the speaker before the event starts, but do you really want to put money on it?

Attendee three has been able to find the seminars they knew about before the event began, but never got the word that their favorite presenter was adding an additional presentation – until after the presentation. They are aggravated that information on the additional presentation wasn’t located somewhere where they were looking.

The fourth attendee, the one that found the presentation and managed to arrive on time, is now worried where their friends are.

All of these scenarios completely change when you have a good event app. Your app should be able to be updated until the last minute.

Then the first attendee’s map will never get fuzzy, and with a point on their map showing where they are supposed to go, they will find it difficult to get lost.

The second attendee’s app has then been automatically updated to add all last-minute presentation changes while notifying every attendee who has shown interest in those presentations. This attendee can then go directly to the right place, the first time, and never ends up screaming at one of your poor volunteers.

The app notified the third attendee as soon as the additional session by their favorite presenter was added, and that attendee used the new information to convince several friends to come to your event because they all try to see that presenter whenever the presenter is around, and now it is totally worth it for them to be there.  

And the fourth attendee? They can relax, and concentrate on the presentation they have been waiting months to see, since all their friends arrived in time to join them.

All four attendees, when they meet up later for dinner, will be talking about what they learned from your great selection of presentations, instead of how much trouble they had finding where everything was.

L.J. Cavanaugh has over 38 years experience in technical writing. She has written technical manuals for everything from sonic pile drivers to computer software, and co-authored a Prentice-Hall book on cryptography and network security. Currently, she writes blog articles on mobile event software. L.J. moved to Silicon Valley in 1978, where she is now a servant to 2 cats. She can be reached at