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The Rise and Benefits of Text Apps and Chatbots for Events

2017 Corbin Ball & Co.

Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used mobile app with 97% of Americans smart phone users using it at least once a day. (Pew Research Center). Additionally, text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate (Mobile Marketing Watch). 

There are a few distinct benefits in using text-based systems over standard event apps:

  • Most messaging systems do not require an app download – they simply use a text message interface -- good news to many smartphone users whose storage may be already maxed out.
  • Text messaging and chatbots use an interface that people are already using daily.
  • Texts tools and chatbots can provide immediate, quick direct responses to specific information.
  • Typically, these systems are less expensive as well.

As users’ enthusiasm wanes for downloading and navigating apps (1/4 or all downloaded apps are abandoned after a single use), the tried-and-tested text format is increasingly becoming a natural for events.

Here are some examples of how text and chatbot apps are working for events:

Short codes:

Short codes (short digit sequences significantly shorter than telephone numbers) have been used for years to text responses for charity donations, mobile services, and television program voting. They can be very handy at events for an auto-reply to get a link for an event app or other services.

For example, US users can simply text ‘corbin’ to 87878 to receive links to current course notes and to my TechTalk newsletter subscription page. This was set up for me by Validar.

Short code links to a cloud-based mobile hub:

This method also uses short codes, but the auto responder message has a link to a cloud-based app-like page that can be saved as an icon to your phone.

An example is HubIQ. Text ‘Explore’ to 95577 to see simple event app replacement options for planners or text “corbin” to the same number to see an example of a speaker mobile hub.

Short codes for polls, quizzes, audience questions and more.

Mobile polling companies such as PollEverywhere have been using short codes as a voting option for mobile polling for some time.

More recently, companies, such as Lively, have expanded this. Short codes can be used for a variety of participant interactions including polling, quizzes, word clouds, audience Q&A, and event giveaway contests to stimulate participation.

Here are examples of how this appears on the screen for polling:


It also come with some advanced analytics:


Text Bots

Chatbots are computer programs that conduct conversations via auditory or text methods. Often using artificial intelligence (AI), these systems have become amazingly accurate in determining the sense and context of voice/text requests and responding in a human-like way. The explosion of voice-activated systems such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home attest to the rapidly increasing capabilities of these systems.

However, the voice interface does not work well in crowded environments such as a meeting room or a tradeshow. External phone conversations in a meeting room are generally not well accepted as is yelling orders into your phone on a noisy exhibit floor.

Therefore, text-based systems are emerging as an excellent chatbot alternative to answer questions, to gather feedback and to engage attendees at events.

On a basic level, event planners can add Facebook Messenger bots to their Facebook event pages for free. It’s Alive is a free bot creation platform using an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface to help in this process. This platform does not use AI, instead using menu-based choice options. A similar product is: MobileMonkey.

Recently, a number of event-based chatbot providers have emerged. Here are a few of them:


Morph.ai is a chatbot building suite for a variety of B2B situations including events. They offer a freemium version and these bots can be deployed over messaging channels like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, SMS, website, live chat and Skype.


Event2Mobile’s Eva claims to be the industry-first chatbot for event apps. With offices in the USA, UK and Singapore, they provide a full range of text services including polling, surveys, live Q&A, meeting scheduling, directions, feedback, in-app messaging, gamification, photo walls and searches for speakers/attendees/exhibitors.

Concierge Eventbot

Sciensio’s Concierge Eventbot offers a range of text services including the event agenda/schedule, directions, floor plans, FAQs, surveys, polls, crowd sourced questions, and event info about sessions/materials/speakers/sponsors/exhibitors.


ConfBot text services offers event information on the agenda, personalized schedules, attendee messaging, feedback, surveys and more.


Text is the most widely used mobile app. This familiar interface is providing a wide range of options for events. It is fast, easy, inexpensive and direct. With the addition of AI, we will see this increasingly used at conferences, meetings and exhibitions.

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, DES, MS is a speaker and independent third-party consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.comand followed at www.twitter.com/corbinball

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