seatsWe had a lovely coffee with Pankaj Prasad over at DoubleDutch this morning and he told us a great story that I’d like to relay to you.

Pankaj was at a huge meeting in a 5,000-seat theater/arena. Pankaj had talked about getting the company to consider a mobile solution for the event, but the organizers would have none of it. They were certain that a mobile solution, in this case an app, launched specifically for the event, would cause too many distractions. The organizers wanted each of the 5,000 attendees to be focused on the speaker on stage, not on their devices.

In that same vein, a decision was made to rent technology that effectively blocked cell phone service for the arena. This technology cost more to implement than the proposed mobile solution. So rather than use the devices in everyone’s hands to enhance the experience, pushing content to increase engagement and future recall, they spend big bucks making everyone’s phone a very expensive brick for the duration of the event.

I assumed this was the punch line of Pankaj’s story. It wasn’t. It gets better.

Pankaj was in the booth behind all the speakers and took a picture from his vantage point. What he saw? During the keynote speech, more than one third of the attendees were playing with their phones, trying to figure out why they couldn’t get a signal. Not only did the company choose to not leverage the mobile devices, it effectively turned them into hand-held distraction machines for almost half the room.

Well played.

Everyone is already using their phones. You might as well get them to use them in a way that helps your message get out, right? Invest in a smart and focused event app and ask it to do more than just hold your event logistics. The cost is far outweighed by the return. Just ask.