Interested in an interactive mobile app for your next event?
Zerista is your answer. I attended NTEN’s annual conference where they used Zerista as their conference mobile app. Zerista is not really an app, but it’s more of a customizable mobile website that is made for most smartphones or iPads. It is also accessible via the web, for those who do not have a smartphone.
If you launch Zerista before your next event, your attendees will have access to a complete mobile program guide. They can create a free account, or log in with their Facebook, Gmail or Yahoo! Account. Then they are able to choose their conference sessions, complete with descriptions and takeaways, “check in” to events (similar to FourSquare), view the interactive exhibit hall map, post to your conference’s twitter account, Facebook page or LinkedIn account, and message other attendees. Members can upload their picture and create their own profile. With a ZeristaPro account, you are able to generate revenue by selling sponsorships.
Privacy Conerns? You can set your site to private, and your users will need a username and password to access the site and its contents. Zerista also has a public setting, which states, “when a site is set to ‘public,’ anyone can view the sessions and exhibitors, but they won’t be able to interact with the site (create a profile, make a schedule, send a message, etc.) until they have appropriately logged on.”
Time line: Zerista usually takes three weeks to build a site, and they recommend that you have it live at least six weeks before your event. As an event planner, you promote your event before, during and after your conference. Your Zerista platform is live for six months after your event.
My Favorite Features: It was nice to be able to choose several sessions and have a schedule on my phone, so that if one session was full, or not didn’t fit my needs, I could easily look up my alternative session without having to refer to my program book. Zerista was a nice addition to the NTC’11 conference.
I also relied on the live Twitter feeds to see what everyone else was saying about the conference topics, key takeaways, and to also see where people where heading to dinner or when the cookie cart arrived! At NTC many people tweet important or newsworthy suggestions from their breakout sessions and during the plenary. It’s a great way to stay engaged, even if you don’t know a lot of people at the conference. I also noticed that not as many people were hidden behind their laptops during the open plenaries and sessions, it might have been because Zerista and its mobile features.
Wishes: It would have been nice if they uploaded a hotel map for the directionally challenged, like me. They did have a map uploaded, but it was a map of a random soccer field. I believe it was pre-installed as an example, and for whatever reason that map wasn’t “turned off.”
As a side note, last year I had the opportunity to sign up for a Beta account with Zerista to test out its features. It was easy to upload my data and customize the look of my Zerista site by choosing my colors. Within minutes my site was live.
Packages and Features: They don’t publish a price list for their packages on their website, so you‘d have to contact a representative to get an estimate.
Zerista is a great tool to provide your conference attendees, but you have to know your audience and promote its features well in advance. It is not a hard sell, especially since there is an app for everything today, and mobile technology is the future.