Festival iPhone apps – this year’s Melbourne line-up

L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival app hits the mark for its audience

Melbourne is in the middle of festival season, so it got me thinking about looking at the availability and the use of iPhone apps for the number of festivals and events that his Australia over the summer.

Many of these events have multiple venues, multiple attractions that cover a whole area, or sometimes a whole city. Ticket sales and attendance rely heavily on marketing but crucially on word of mouth, an aspect that social media can help fill.

Despite the key role of social media in promotion, some of them have only touched the edges of connecting with their audience.

The St Kilda Festival 2011 this year released an iPhone app. While beautifully designed, it was not made for smart phones. The app played more like an online brochure, there was no interactivity with the schedule, and you had to keep flicking between a map and the schedule to figure out where you needed to be. The map used a graphically drawn map with a legend that had to be zoomed to be viewed on an iPhone screen – it’s lack of usability made it seem like nothing more than a well designed PDF split into separate screens for an iPhone.

Melbourne’s 2011 Midsumma Festival did better, with a What’s On screen that showed festival news, yet six items of news over 2 weeks of a festival left much to be desired. The program was interactive, giving details about each of the shows, links direct to ticket sales and the ability to pick favourite activities. The venue page linked directly with the map application on the iPhone, however, there were no links between the program and the venue pages – making it difficult to find out where an event was actually being held.

The L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival app is so far the best of 2011 so far. Designed in a style that will befit anyone interested in the fashion festival, the app includes background into each of the designers, an interactive program with ticket information and maps, and integration of the @LMFF twitter feed and #LMFF community tweets, blog and facebook page. In case this wasn’t enough, the app also includes a photo gallery featuring last year’s event and an integrated fashion festival TV channel.

So if you are organising a festival, event, show and thinking of including an iPhone app, what should you consider? Try these tips:

  • Plan – who are you talking to? Think about the audience that you want to visit your event. What phones are they using or online sites, where should your biggest presence be.
  • Integrate into your communication – Your iPhone app should not work outside of your marketing or online strategy. It should integrate seamlessly to your website and follow the branding strategy.
  • Give a little bit extra – Reward those that download apps. Give them information, behind the scenes news and videos, updates to keep them interested.
  • Don’t be afraid to sell – If your event relies on ticket sales, integrate ticket sales into your iPhone app to help you settle a sale immediately. Adding additional steps in the process will only annoy the user, and cost you seats.
  • Don’t just give your audience a map, help them get there – Use the power of the GPS on the iPhone to make it easy for your audience. Give them directions and show them events that are near them.
  • Talk with your audience and let them talk to each other – Give your audience news, regularly, and give them an opportunity to share it and talk with their own friends. Create twitter links in your application that automatically append you hashtag, and make it easy for them to share.

Got any other tips on iPhone apps that you want to share?

….,” says David