Personalized Event Experiences with Machine Learning


Personalization helps event attendees make the most of their time

Business conferences are great for furthering knowledge, networking, and gaining access to industry thought leaders. The reality of making the most of a conference experience, however, can be challenging. Scrambling to get a seat at the right session, managing a packed schedule, and finding breaks in between talks to check-in with the office can require intense time management and energy expenditure.

A major technology company that hosts one of the largest events for 80,000+ attendees recognized these were common issues and set out to improve their attendee experience via the event's mobile app. 

The Challenge

Attendees are busy & they need information quickly  

There were a few challenges that the client wanted to conquer:

Session enrollment
Among the 80,000+ attendees, those who planned ahead tended to have a smoother experience versus those who signed up for the conference later or didn’t know they could sign up for sessions in advance. Compounding the number of attendees with over 4,000 sessions to choose from, those who waited until they were on site to make their selections often found it difficult to:

  • Obtain a customized view of open sessions that were relevant to their interests 
  • Reserve a seat in the sessions they were interested in
  • Dynamically create a schedule quickly that considered interest area, time slot, and venue location

Plus, the most popular sessions booked up quickly, and even when new sessions were offered, many attendees missed notifications due to a flood of communications. All of this created a time-consuming burden for the attendee who was stuck organizing their schedule on the fly and across multiple venues. 

Scheduling friction
From a scheduling perspective, if the app was closed or a user logged out, they had to reset their filter view every time they logged back in. Going through the process of selecting filters over and over was time consuming and made it difficult for users to easily manage their schedules throughout the week-long event. This created frustration, poor attendee experience, and led to low mobile app ratings.

Cross-venue transportation time 
The event takes place across multiple venues in a major US city, requiring shuttles, rideshare, taxis, or walking for attendees to get from point to point. Some attendees spent a third of their day just traveling  between venues! An app that factored travel into its algorithm could greatly reduce stress on attendees.

Fluid scheduling
Sessions were constantly changing based on demand and it was difficult for attendees to keep track of the most up-to-date schedule. Communicating schedule updates needed to be better managed in order to  reduce frustration and improve the overall event experience.

All of these challenges made it clear that attendees would benefit from a more personalized experience. 

AWS Case Chall

Mobile app delivers customized recommendations leveraging Amazon Personalize 

The company hosting this event had an advantage – they already had an event mobile app in place. The app was popular among attendees and experienced high usage volume, reinforcing that enhancing the app to be responsive to attendee needs was not only a good investment, but a necessary one. 

Mobiquity realized that to improve the attendee experience, the mobile app needed to be customized to each and every user’s preferences. By adding personalization features using Amazon Personalize Machine Learning (ML), Mobiquity made the attendee experience valuable for everyone. The updated app offered unique session recommendations by utilizing information on attendee interests, location, and popularity of sessions.

Scheduling success
With so many sessions to choose from, it was obvious that the most important logistical factor for attendees was organizing their schedule in a way that would be most valuable for them. By creating a model that factored in an attendee’s prior enrollments, their familiarity with the event (were they a first time attendee or an experienced one?), and other user attributes, the team established a tagging system that brought sessions that would be of most interest for each user to the forefront. This personalization also created a boost in the client’s “reserved seating” feature that allowed attendees to reserve seats for their desired sessions so that they were guaranteed a spot. This was especially useful for sessions in high demand.

Frictionless functionality
Mobiquity created a personalized catalog filter view, showing session recommendations with better functionality so that attendees could create a shortlist of sessions that interested them. This functionality also enabled attendees to save their interests and come back to them – even after closing and reopening the app or logging out and back in again. A personalized dashboard was also created to give attendees an at-a-glance view of their event schedule, interests, and upcoming sessions.

Time-sensitivity built in around sessions
Given that transportation was a huge factor for attendees, personalization features allowed attendees to organize their schedule in a way that made sense, including time spent traveling from session to session. The mobile app was extended with customizations to guide attendees on venue and location oriented recommendations. By enabling attendees to choose sessions that were valuable to them, but also within a short distance of each other, they could get the most out of the event experience and avoid losing time spent on venue switching. 

Responsive to schedule updates
The client knew that in order for the show to be truly successful, they needed to be responsive to demand with repeat and new sessions for key topic areas. Often sessions filled up very quickly, with hundreds of people on a wait list in the event that spots opened up or new sessions were added later in the week. Mobiquity introduced in-app notifications to attendees when a new session was added so that they were aware of the opportunity and could enroll for repeat or newly added sessions.  

AWS Case Sol (1)

Increased attendee engagement & satisfaction, scheduling efficiency, and overall event success

As a result of these mobile app enhancements and increased personalization features, there were three key results.

Improved attendee engagement & satisfaction
With the ability to reserve seats, view sessions based on user interest, and leverage the app easily with improved functionality, users were more engaged and satisfied with the mobile app. 

Scheduling efficiencies 
By making it easier to reserve seats, venue switching could be reduced. In addition, being able to easily communicate new sessions as they were released (especially with high-demand sessions), drove customer satisfaction up.

Overall event success
All of these features enabled greater insights about the attendees, their preferences, and how to create the most valuable event for attendees. The learnings from these enhancements will be carried over to other mobile apps and events that the company hosts throughout the year. 

By tracking and measuring each year’s mobile engagement, user interactions will continue to train the model for future events, helping the tool become even smarter and even more responsive for future users. Mobiquity also helped the company understand user preferences, what worked and what didn't, for example, email vs. text for reaching participants throughout the show, so that future events could be optimized with those insights in mind. 

AWS Case Result
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