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Cumulus, An App for Every Event

Individualized event apps have existed in a peculiar type of bubble for quite some time now. They could potentially be useful to extremely large conferences and events, with months of advanced planning, design, and programming, but they never seemed capable of moving out of that niche market. In the world of hospitality and hotel events that meant that apps were not catering to the vast majority of meetings and events that take place on a smaller scale and with less lead time. Wasn’t technology supposed to be making everyone’s lives easier?

Cue the creative minds at Encore Event Technologies who asked the seemingly simple question of…couldn’t every event have an app? While the question may seem simple, they discovered that the answer is anything but. The complexities of app creation, coding, and programming apps individualized to each and every conference lead to a huge challenge in the event planning process of needing more time than is normally available. With those challenges in mind, Encore set about to devise a way that they could build an app shell that could cater to the needs of the vast majority, while offering flexibility and promoting collaboration from meeting planners and attendees alike.

The first true hurdle that had to be overcome in creating something like this for such a potentially vast audience was determining how they could make it work on the vast array of devices that event attendees carry with them. While any app can be written natively for iOS or Android operating systems, that doesn’t necessarily encompass the entire mobile device spectrum, and could potentially leave certain event attendees out of the app experience. In addition, consideration was given to the fact that event apps are normally utilized one time, and expecting event attendees to download a full application to their device via an app store was not only cumbersome, but many event attendees found it to be intrusive on devices that are normally purchased for personal use. Due to these caveats Encore decided to take the approach of creating a web-app, which in laymen’s terms means something that looks and feels like an app, but opens via the web browser on the client’s device. While there are still a vast array of browsers to cater to, this allowed them to be more inclusive across the mobile device spectrum, and creates a user experience where nothing is downloaded to the device that potentially needs to be deleted again once the event date has passed.

With the idea for a web-app in hand, Encore continued to Innovate on just how they could build an app that made life easy for the small event planner, who tended to have much less lead time than a large conference. That meant extensive work to design a content management system that was both intuitive and easy to use. To achieve these goals Encore created a web-based CMS that was accessible via the internet, and designed to act as a simple guide toward uploading pertinent information such as agenda’s, speaker information, and presentation materials.

With a completed web-app and CMS ready to be brought to market, Encore began diving deeper into the challenges they might have in deploying an enterprise wide-app to more than one hundred hotels and resorts. What they discovered was that the only true challenge that existed was not getting meeting planners and hoteliers excited about using the app, it was getting those meeting planners to find the money to pay for such a thing. As far as meeting planners for small events were aware, a meeting app cost thousands of dollars, and took months to prepare, so they had never even considered attempting to budget money for an event app.

What Encore did next was something that is still generating shockwaves today. Knowing that they had a model in hand that would allow them to bring app technology to even the smallest of events, and wanting to maintain their reputation for being the leading technology partner in the hotel industry they made the radical move of offering their app for free to any event that was utilizing Encore as their event technology supplier. Suddenly the dream of an app for every event was not only possible, but the reality was that the industry was waiting for something like this to come along.

Encore’s new free app was name Cumulus, and it is still making waves across the industry. Events both large and small are now going green at a record pace by avoiding printed materials that can now be found in their custom event app, and collaboration with attendees can now happen on a real-time basis through the internet.

Encore Event Technologies is currently the in-house technology partner to nearly two-hundred hotels and resorts throughout the Americas. Encore is a part of the Freeman family of companies.

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