Bizzabo is a free mobile app that puts conference attendees in touch with each other and with organizers, enabling users to find out about events in their area and connect with each other while making it easier for event sponsors to reach out to participants and follow up with them. The big data generated by the app, and the inroads it has given his company into the event business, give the Israeli start-up an unprecedented opportunity to remake an entire industry, said company CEO Eran Ben-Shushan.
“The solutions for event management available today are very ad hoc,” Ben-Shushan said in an interview. “There is definitely a business opportunity for a company like ours, which has a great deal of experience in helping organizers build a community around event participants.”
Bizzabo provides users with information about shows, seminars, demonstrations, projects, marathons and other events taking place in their area. Although it can be used for any kind of event in any kind of industry, the tech community has embraced Bizzabo. If IBM is running a seminar for developers interested in building apps for the IBM cloud, the company is likely to use Bizzabo to spread the word. Bizzabo users in the area get a message about when the event is scheduled, and can register for it via the app.
Meanwhile, others who registered can see their profile and connect with them before, during, or after the event. The result is a social network and community built around events, in which users share data via LinkedIn and Twitter. “We end up knowing a lot about our customers,” said Ben-Shushan. “We use that information to add features to Bizzabo and make it even more useful.”
Event organizers register their event on the Bizzabo site, detailing information about location, dates, speakers and costs. They can message registrants via Bizzabo, providing them with up-to-the-minute details about schedule changes, speaker profiles, and agendas, and get feedback via polls and quick questionnaires. Organizers can see how many participants have tweeted or shared information about the event on Facebook in order to gauge the event’s “social media” impact over time, track how many people are attending each session, and judge the overall event success in the industry.
Bizzabo users and event sponsors really like the app, said Ben-Shushan, which gives him the opportunity to come up with creative ways to monetize the platform. He says they “are using a freemium model, meaning that the basic service for event sponsors is free, but they can buy extra features to enhance their presentation,” such as floor plans for exhibitions that show what company is at which booth.
Ben-Shushan can cite dozens of Bizzabo success stories. In a recent UK tech event, the NOAH Internet Conference, organizers were able within just a few days to sign up nearly 600 participants via the app, who used it to send over 3,000 networking messages to each, and sent out over 1,000 LinkedIn invitations using Bizzabo. “Bizzabo helped increase attendee return on investment by providing a mobile experience that connected attendees with both important event information and the networking opportunities that they craved,” said Ben-Shushan “By providing this value, Bizzabo helped NOAH establish themselves as an extremely worthwhile and beneficial conference for Internet professionals.”
The monetization can go beyond the app itself, said Ben-Shushan. Event management is one of the few industries that has not undergone the process of tech streamlining that so many other businesses have. The industry is still mostly a local affair, with organizers tackling problems and issues as they come up, instead of planning for them in advance. Few, if any, are in a position to capitalize on the social side of their events, or would even know how to approach the matter, said Ben-Shushan.
This means that Bizzabo could become much more than an app. “The solutions today are disjointed and ad hoc,” he said. “We see ourselves as a holisitic solution that takes all the engagement from the attendee side and allows organizers to leverage data and ensure participant satisfaction. Right now, we are doing that for events’ social engagement, but options definitely exist to go beyond social and into more advanced areas of event planning.”