Figure with red pullover wit a mobile phone

Web Apps vs. Native Event Apps: What are the pros and cons?

Mobile internet is booming. This has an effect on mobile event offers. Is a downloadable app worthwhile or should you go for a web app?

Lots of traffic, not many apps 

Comscore’s annual report on mobile internet use in the USA makes it clear: two out of three digital minutes are spent on mobiles! Of which, apps account for almost 90% of digital data traffic on mobile devices.

The average smartphone user uses 25 apps per month, but: roughly 80% of mobile data use is spent on his/her three top apps. As to be expected, social media apps such as Facebook, YouTube or messenger services are clear frontrunners.

Strategy counts for mobile web at events

No event manager can get by nowadays without a mobile internet strategy. A mandatory aspect is a responsive website – however, many event planners go for special apps for their conference, trade fair or event to offer their visitors and exhibitors added value.

Essentially, there is a differentiation between so-called web apps, that are simply used via the mobile browser, and native apps that have to be downloaded via Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. There are also hybrid apps that offer both. 

Do event apps make sense? 

Event Apps – regardless whether as a web app, native or hybrid – allow event organizers to get important information about the event (schedule, speakers, location, social media feeds) and features, such as e.g. networking, onto mobile end devices. They are adjusted to and optimized for the respective screen size, as no one wants to use websites designed for desktop screens on their smartphone.

Unfortunately, very frequently the exact goal of an event app isn’t targeted. What use is an app for an event if content is easier to convey in another way? Hall plans as a PDF download, cumbersome registration processes or barely legible text deserts are several things that are better left out of mobile content.

The driving force behind the integration of an event app in several event planners’ event concepts is often the “me too” strategy; a competing event also has an event app…

The networking and interaction of participants amongst each other and between exhibitors and visitors is one of the most important features of event apps, as once again shown in the current edition of the Event App Bible.

Particularly features such as networking amongst participants is predominantly used on mobile end devices, as you don’t have a big screen available on site at an event. The Converve networking platform offers exactly these features: 

  • Participant data is entered according to European data protection standards
  • Each participant can create and simply edit a personal profile page
  • Participants can search for interesting new contacts, customers or cooperation partners using keywords
  • The MyMatch feature even recommends suitable contacts
  • Private messages and friendship invites can be sent via the system – and that beyond the event

The Converve web app is optimised for all mobile devices

When is a native app worthwhile?

 As we know not only since the Comscore figures mentioned above, few events manage to get all visitors to download a special app via the App Store or Google Play. The event manager blog found in its latest research that only at third of events are native event apps used by more than every second participant. 

Participants therefore need a good reason to voluntarily download and use an event app. So what can native apps do that web apps can’t?

Firstly, they offer the possibility to access smartphone features that web-based apps can’t offer. That can be e.g. push notifications that can be sent to all participants. Or camera, address book or microphone access.

A further advantage is that these apps can also be used offline, as soon as they have been downloaded once. That way a participant can use the app on the plane on the way to an event to look at exhibitors at a fair or sessions at a conference and plan a personal schedule. This can be an advantage if you have a lot of international visitors. But: as events are organized at increasing short notice and there are last-minute schedule changes, this can turn into a disadvantage. In a case of doubt, the participant then has a schedule that is no longer so valid.

What are the advantages of web apps?

 Web apps are easily controlled via the smartphone or tablet browser. They are optimized for mobile end device use and work independently of whether the web app is accessed on an iPhone, Android, or any other device. 

This is a decisive advantage as many users don’t want a “big” event app (e.g. a trade fair app) using up too much memory space and then delete the app after the event again. Also, nobody wants to download an extra app for every event that they visit!

A web app is always up to date, as changes made to a web app are immediately visible on all mobile devices.

The lead time linked to native apps – Apple for example reserves the right to first test every app before it is authorized for download in the App Store. This can take up to two weeks.


For a consistent experience – regardless of on a desktop screen, smartphone or tablet – Converve relies wholly on web apps and responsive web design. New web technologies such as HTML 5 bring web app functionality constantly closer to the scope of native platforms. Inadequate bandwidth at event locations such as trade fairs and conferences that is frequently the argument for native event apps, will hopefully be a thing of the past within the next 1-2 years. A missing technological standard offer cannot be the argument for the acquisition of technology that only seemingly makes up for this mistake.

Web-based event apps ensure that the event website, matchmaking and networking features look perfect on all end devices, as well as being easy to read with optimum use. 

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Further info 

Event App Bible 2017