Grandstand Unveils Real App Previews
Imagine being able to create an account, begin entering content, and previewing your app on your own device within minutes. That is the promise of the new Real App Preview unveiled by Grandstand at the 2016 IAFE Conference in Las Vegas.
No longer are you burdened by going through the Apple TestFlight program or Google Beta Android builds to preview your app days or weeks after you initially created. With Real App Preview you now have the ability to go from start to finish in just minutes or hours.
The preview works by downloading the Grandstand Events app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile device. Then, after creating an account on our web platform and loading in your initial content, you will be shown a code to enter into the home page of the Grandstand Event app. This will load your app in seconds and you will immediately see the fruits of your labor.
If you choose to go with one of our full-service packages you can still take advantage of Real App Preview by downloading the app and then entering the code that we provide to you to see your app within minutes of starting.
In early 2017, Grandstand will also be rolling out its first container app, Grandstand Events. If you are an event and choose this package you can have your attendees download the Grandstand Events app and the app will automatically find the events closest to them that have chosen to create apps with us or allow them to search for a specific event.
These new features will bring our powerful functionality made famous at events like the Illinois State Fair and Minnesota State Fair and make it accessible to fairs and festivals of all shapes and sizes.
If you are at IAFE we are in booth 1102. Please stop by and let us show you this advanced new functionality. If you are not in Vegas, give us a call at 402-770-1654 to setup a demo.
Grandstand Launches Official Illinois State Fair
Grandstand Apps is pleased to announce the release of their newest State Fair App for the Illinois State Fair. This full-featured event map is an outstanding tool for all fair-goers to enhance their visit. The app uses the power of your iPhone or Android device to replace the paper map and schedule and adds to the excitement of attending every day. Key features of the app include:
1. Interactive Map. The Illinois State Fair’s 300-plus locations are included with the ability to filter points shown by 20 different categories including restrooms, food vendors, storm shelters, tram stops and many more. Selecting an item from calendar, list of vendors, etc you can then have it open and show that location on the map.
2. Scavenger Hunt. The app brings the excitement of a scavenger hunt to your device. The 40 unique locations on the hunt encourages you to seek out new discoveries on the fairgrounds as well as your old favorites. Upon reaching thresholds of 20 locations, 30 and all 40, you will unlock coupon prizes to be use on food or merchant vendors at the fair. Locations are identitied on a map with some photos of the area you are seeking to visit.
3. In-App Photo Booth. Use Snapchat-style photo filters to record your memories at the fair. The eight overlay themes were specially designed for the Illinois State Fair. Share your photos on a variety of social media outlets directly from the app.
4. Vendor Search. Find the nearest funnel cake or corndog vendor quickly by using the searchable food and merchant vendor list. Search by keyword and plot the exact vendor on the map.
5. Open-Class Results. The Illinois State Fair has more than 25,000 open-class competition entries. Using the results database, you can search for the specific class or competitor for whom you are looking.
6. Hy-Vee Brew Garden. The garden has more than 50 beers on tap. Find them all on the app with the ability to favorite the ones you liked so you can find them again.
7. Deals & Discounts. Deals and discounts change daily to make the fair more affordable. For example, the first weekend includes more than 30 deals for First Responders, thanking them for the service.
The new Illinois State Fair app is the most integrated and feature-filled of Grandstand’s event apps yet. The Android and iOS platform allows for powerful features for visitors at the fair. In addition, the app is built on a platform that allows access and easy updating by those running the Illinois event.
Mobile Scavenger Hunt
Gets Attendees Moving
One of the challenges to hosting any event is getting attendees to explore as much of the event facilities and grounds as possible. Grandstand has developed a solution that can be added to a mobile event app to bring a fun and interactive scavenger hunt to the event experience.
Using Grandstand’s new Scavenger Hunt Builder, an event host can setup a connected series of scavenger hunt locations that can be completed by the user by either entering a 4-digit code or scanning a QR code. Successful scavenger hunt participants can then be rewarded with gifts or coupons for completing a set percentage of the stops on the hunt.
Grandstand is rolling out this new feature at the 2015 IAFE Convention in Las Vegas as an optional upgrade for its 2016 event apps. Using the Grandstand App platform, fairs and festivals of any size can manage and control a fully native suite of apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile.
“We’ve been to so many events where the best exhibits and booths are in locations that just don’t get the traffic flow needed for them to come back year after year,” said Jeff Abele, President of Grandstand. “Our goal with Scavenger Hunt Builder is to give people a reason to explore all the fun and interesting areas of your event.”
For more details on this feature call us at 402-770-1654.
How to Use Push Notifications to Increase Engagement
In the early days of mobile technology, users generally used their phone or tablet as an extension of their computer, using it to seek the content they needed. However, as the grid of apps has increased, our culture has moved increasingly from this “pull-driven” method of pulling info out we seek to the a “push-driven.” A push notification allows your application to notify a user with a new message when he or she is not actively using the app.
You have encouraged visitors to download your event app. Now that they have it, how do you get them to use it? Recent research by Localytics has shown that app engagement was 88 percent higher when the app sent push notifications. So, for you this means that in this increasingly push-driven world, you need to send regular alerts to your users.
In apps produced by Grandstand in the last year, targeted push notifications increased average app usage by almost 5000% in the hour following a message. Industry research shows that more than half of push-enabled users accessed an app 11 times or more after download versus 38 percent of those not receiving notifications (Localytics research).
On TechCrunch, Ariel Seidman wrote that “its hard to over-hype the power of mobile push notifications. For the first time in human history, you can tap almost two billion people on the shoulder.” The goal for these alerts is to engage the user without over-notifying them to the point of annoyance. Allowing the user to identify the types or dates for notifications in an event app would be key to increasing the viability of notifications.
Clearly, push-notifications are ideal for encouraging engagement with your app, the question then becomes, what types of content can and should be shared for your event app. The types of content are really limitless, but the most effective use of push notifications entices the user toward some kind of action or immediate reminder. There are three main types that event apps might employ:
- Action items that take the user from alert to the app
- An alert about a venue or time change
- General reminder with daily highlights
An action item alert for a conference might direct the user to the opening of the trade show. The user would then be directed to the schedule within the app. A second alert notification might be the release of 4-H Judging results, thereby directing the user to enter the app to browse or search for the winners in recently released categories. These types of notifications would most dramatically increase your user’s interaction with the app, providing the much needed analytics to identify interest of the users, open rate time and engagement. These three analytic points would be of utmost importance when attracting advertisers or other investors for your app in the future.
Alerts about venue or time changes or general daily highlights would increase the importance of your app to remain on your user’s devices, thus serving as a reminder of your event’s interest and importance for their time. Those apps that encourage interaction through notification are rewarded with engagement (TechCrunch, 2014). According to research by Localytics, 53 percent of push-enabled users accessed an app 11 times or more after download versus 38 percent of non-push users. Each return visit to the app offers an opportunity to put your event and your brand in front of a user. In addition, these time or venue change alerts will encourage attendance at your session making it a more successful experience overall.
When using the Grandstand Apps platform, you as an event coordinator can release these alerts or notifications in two key ways:
- Using our Grandstand App Builder tools you select the subgroup you want to send to, craft your message, and hit send.
- Through Twitter, any tweets sent by the identified account would also be sent as an alert to app users.
These two methods of sending your alerts offers you as an event organizer to most easily get your key messages out to your intended targets. Those users can do one of three things to select their notification level based on your preferences: users may be asked during the initial on-boarding process to allow alerts, after a double opt-in or you may choose to employ an alert management page for the user’s micro-control of alerts allowing them to select multiple categories of alerts or identifying which days they would like to receive alerts in the case of multi-day events.
Our world is an increasingly push-driven one, with a larger app grid on our devices our engagement with certain apps is driven by those that alert us to their existence. By using key tools for notifications, your mobile solution will be ensured to stand out and thus encourage greater engagement with it and your event activities as a whole.
For assistance in developing and managing your event’s Mobile App, contact Grandstand Apps (grandstandapps.com).
15 New Fair Foods For 2015
Fairs and food go hand in hand and the end of July always brings us the first tastes of new fair foods. Almost every state fair nationwide has new food they are featuring. Here are 15 new foods we are looking forward to in 2015:
Deep Fried Pretzel Crusted Brownies On-a-Stick – Wisconsin State Fair
Please divert your calorie-counting eyes. This new item features fresh-baked fudge brownies rolled in pretzel pieces, deep-fried and served on-a-stick with a side of sea salt caramel dipping sauce.
Bacon-Wrapped Corn on the Cob – California State Fair
The aptly-named Bacon Habit booth has figured out a way to affix bacon to the fair staple. Amber and Nathan Vanderwarker’s porcine-centric Bacon Habit setup also has something new. “Buttery corn on the cob is such a fair staple,” Amber Vanderwarker said, “but we wrap it in four pieces of hickory-smoked bacon and crisp it up on the grill.”
Deep Fried Ribs – Minnesota State Fair
Not sure why this wasn’t done before. Smoked baby back ribs, breaded, fried and served with BBQ sauce.
Churro Sundae – Wisconsin State Fair
This one has gained a lot of early buzz. A warm churro placed inside a chocolate glazed long john donut, topped with two dips of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sundae topping.
Elephant Ear Ice Cream – Ohio State Fair
Velvet Ice Cream, which is celebrating its 101st year, has developed a new flavor: Elephant Ear. Velvet created the one-of-a-kind frozen confection by starting with its traditional recipe vanilla, then swirling in a sweet caramel sauce and crispy nuggets of fried, cinnamon-coated elephant ear.
“We wanted to create a flavor for year’s fairgoers that’s unique to the fair and truly captures that special State Fair experience,” Velvet Ice Cream’s vice president Joanne Danger said. “With our history of more than 101 years in Ohio’s dairy industry, Velvet Ice Cream is always proud to be a major part of the Ohio State Fair. And every year we look forward to creating a special flavor for fairgoers.”
Totchos – Minnesota State Fair
Amazingly a gluten-free offering, the Totchos features tater tots smothered in cheddar cheese sauce with seasoned sour cream, bacon bits and green onions. If that’s not enough you can always add chicken or taco-style ground beef.
Apple Pie On-A-Stick – Iowa State Fair
Amazingly this hasn’t been done before but here is how it works. First you dip the sliced apples in funnel cake batter and apple pie spice. Then, of course, you deep fry it. Finally the whole thing is topped with cinnamon sugar and served with a side of gooey caramel.
Snickers Wrapped in Bacon – Illinois State Fair
The sweet, nougaty Snickers has now been one-upped by wrapping it in bacon for the 2015 event. Can’t wait to see how this is served and how well the tightly-wound and salty bacon goes with the sweetness of the candy bar.
Deep-Fried Nacho Balls – Iowa State Fair
What if we could put nachos into an easy-to-eat ball? That was the thought process that went into the Deep-Fried Nacho Ball. The balls — filled to max capacity with ground beef, jalapeños, and cheddar cheese — are rolled in a nacho cheese-Dorito crust before being thrown in the fryer and served up with a side of nacho cheese.
Deep Fried Coffee – Illinois State Fair
Get your caffeine fix in a new format – a donut-like coffee-bean ball that is topped with whip cream to give you that perfect fair pick-me-up. Did we mention it is topped with whip cream?
Deep-fried sweet corn – Indiana State Fair
Polished off with a slightly tangy garlic lime butter, this long-time vendor uses cornmeal batter to coat sweet Indiana corn before dropping the whole cobs into hot oil. The corn is sweet and juicy, the coating crunchy and not too heavy, with queso fresco lending a salty hint.
Corn in a Cup – Iowa State Fair
Corn on the Cob is so last year. 2015 is all about the cup, and this new food is not just a cup of corn as the name implies. The snack comes in two varieties: The Iowan (corn niblets, cheddar cheese, pork sausage, mayo, butter, lime, and “spicy magic dust,” whatever that is) and The Mexican (corn niblets, pork chorizo, butter, mayo, coyote cheese, lime, and the aforementioned “spicy magic dust”).
Beer Battered Pretzel Coated Deep Fried Cheese Curds – Wisconsin State Fair
Wisconsin cheese curds coated in a pilsner beer batter with crushed pretzels and panko bread crumbs then deep-fried and served with a zesty Caribbean sauce. Not done yet, they then add bacon bits and make them portable by putting them on a stick. Of course.
Ultimate Bacon Explosion – Iowa State Fair
We haven’t seen photos of this yet, but on-paper this dish sounds like a winner. This swine-centric dish features smoked ground brisket, onions, pepper cheese, and diced jalapeños, all wrapped in bacon and finished with a sweet and spicy chili glaze.
Wis-Cone-Sin – Wisconsin State Fair
In a menu item that can apparently only be served in Wisconsin, a soft pretzel cone is filled with German rot kohl (red cabbage dish), hand breaded chicken schnitzel, a homemade potato pancake wedge topped with crispy cinnamon apple straws and a drizzle of Oktoberfest beer reduction.
Grandstand is a fully-featured event platform for fairs of all shapes and sizes. From the smallest county fair to the largest state fair, our platform gives you the power to customize an app that is right for your event. The Grandstand platform features fully-integrated schedules, maps, news feeds, photo booth tools, and even full results from both open class and 4-H/FFA events.
Texas 4-H Roundup Success Story
The 2015 Texas 4-H Roundup app was met with the perfect storm of excited youth, social content creation in the app, and the ability to finally ditch the paper schedules for one of the nation’s largest 4-H gatherings. When more than 3,000 youth descended upon College Station, Texas earlier this week, the iPhone and Android app was a companion for a majority of them.
Like all Grandstand apps, the Roundup app featured detailed schedules, interactive maps, event favoriting, sharing opportunities and other important information attendees need to know. But it was the added features that proved most popular for Texas youth. The photo booth feature that allowed app users to snap a photo and save it or share it in a custom 4-H Roundup-branded frame, saw usage and sharing by more than a third of the app users. Since the frame contained the event hashtag, the viral nature of these photos helped make the #texas4hroundup a trending-topic on the first day in Houston on Twitter. Mixed with the opportunity to share the hashtag from the events pages, map pages, and social pages, the event saw an increased social engagement from previous years.
The app also featured something important to teenagers, money saving opportunities at local restaurants. Participating restaurants could list specials available only to users of the app.
Over the course of the 3-day Roundup, 69% of the users who downloaded the app used it more than 5 times during the 3-day Roundup. In fact, popular items, like the event screen, saw average view times that exceeded 4 minutes each time. Even more impressive, the average user added more than 6 events to their custom itinerary.
Using the Grandstand Manager, Texas 4-H personnel sent once push notification per day which caused immediate spikes in traffic at the moment of delivery. Texas used this to announce last-second venue changes, but also made those changes within the app for a seamless experience for the users.
Big Fair & Festival Season Upon Us
Summer is our favorite season of the year as it means Fairs and Festivals season is upon us. The Summer of 2015 is proving to be a huge one for Grandstand which is in the process of rolling out apps for some of the largest Fairs and Festivals in the country, including the Ohio State Fair, Minnesota State Fair, Nebraska State Fair, Lancaster County Fair, and more.
Stay tuned for more details on all our event rollouts. There is still time to get an app for your 2015 fair. We can launch an app for your fair in as little as 3 weeks from start to finish. Contact us today at 402-770-1654.