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The Psychology of Event Check-Ins (And How You Can Capitalize On Them)

Guide Bot in Event Planning
Sep 16, 2014

Smartphone technology has opened the doors to a lot of previously-undiscovered, sometimes bizarre human behaviors. “Checking in”, which is the process of announcing and recording your physical location using a smartphone app, is one of them.

When the app Foursquare first took off I checked in . I held brief and hotly contested “Mayorships”of key locations–the corner store, my workplace–and it mattered to me. Years later, event planners are capitalizing on this behavior to facilitate networking and engagement.

Apps have been including check-in features since 2009 when Dodgeball introduced the concept, and the behavior’s popularity has exploded since then. Most notably: Foursquare/Swarm, the most popular check-in app; Yelp, the business review resource, offers check-ins for access to discounts and deals; Facebook allows location recording and sharing; and event/location guide apps (like Guidebook) allow visitors to announce their presence, join a community of nearby, like-minded folks, and access special features.

“I’ve been doing it for years out of habit, and because I like having a record of my travels,” says Danny Newman , who is a power user of location-based check-in apps like Foursquare and Swarm. When I began researching the concept of checking in, I immediately thought of Danny. He’s a busy guy–CEO of beacon technology company Roximity among other things–but he takes the time to check in everywhere he goes, without fail. (I’m always amazed.)

It’s a productive game

Checking in is so popular because it hits several of the more powerful human motivators as outlined by game theory. In Danny’s case, he’s collecting mementos of an admirably busy lifestyle, and leaving notes to remind himself and others what he liked or didn’t like about an experience. Check-in apps also use gamification rewards like badges, “Mayorships”, social sharing and more.

But he also benefits directly by increasing the chances of valuable and fun networking opportunities.

“While I check into restaurants and museums and airports to create a history and take notes for future visits,” Danny says, “I check into for more of a real-time experience. Of course I want to let everyone know I am at a cool event, but I also want to help encourage “planned serendipity” by letting others know I’m there.”

Planned serendipity–in this case, seeing who else has checked in and determining who to interact with–means Danny’s more likely to fall into interesting conversations and sessions between sessions. (And he might score some after-party invites.)

They can get special access

Users who check into events and locations featured in Guidebook’s guides–like conferences, airports and museums–can upload photos to a shared directory (and claim ownership), participate in scavenger hunts, and swap “contact cards” while networking and mingling. They can register for specific mini-events and sessions that are likely to fill up. Without a checkin, these features aren’t accessible.

They score deals and coupons

While the thrill of being crowned the Mayor wore off for me a few years ago (plus, Foursquare did away with mayorships), I still whip out my phone and check in to the Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, a hole-in-the-wall taco joint in LA, because it gives me access to a BOGO deal.

And the same concept applies at some events: sponsors and event organizers are offering special perks to attendees who prove they were on-site.

Good old-fashioned crowd mentality

It feels good to plant a flag, and everyone else is doing it. When Foursquare launched Swarm, they focused the features on the ability to connect IRL with friends around you. Seeing a familiar face nearby triggers a positive response, and seeing a large number of people nearby–whether you know them or not–makes you feel like you’re part of something special. (It’s worth noting, by the way, that the release of Swarm has been met with some controversy. Regular Foursquare users who were happy with the feature set have complained that the new two-app system, and the removal of some features, is jarring and uncool.)

Witnessing event check-ins reminds you that you’re part of an elite group of comic fans or digital marketers or experimental physicists… whatever you’re there for, the other people are a little bit like you. And checking in allows you to contribute to that community, whether it’s by sharing photos, networking, or just appearing in the list of people who’ve said “I’m here”.

I asked our Director of RD, Patrick McNally, if he would take a closer look at event check-ins by number of app users. There’s a very clear pattern: We saw that as the number of users increased, the percent of check-ins decreased.

My theory is that when we are part of a smaller event, we feel that we can have more of an impact by checking in: we have the ability to influence the smaller group. But when we’re at a very large event we find it less important to contribute, plant a flag, or share photos and contact cards.

In addition, smaller communities are more personal and less intimidating. You feel like you have control over who sees your information. Patrick calls it “digital stage fright”.

If you want to get something out of your event’s check-ins, you’ll want to first find ways to encourage them. (Perhaps this is true of leveraging any human behavior. Grow the audience, then find out how you can benefit.)

Make communities of any size feel personal and inviting

We know that people come to events to engage and network. The more ice-breaking opportunities early on, and throughout the event, the more likely you are to drive people to meet. Meeting could mean a handshake, a check-in, or a contact card swap.

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to incorporate traditional and tech-focused means of encouraging networking. She also calls it “planned serendipity”, and the result is an ice-broken community and a warmer relationship between strangers. At any size event, this is sure to promote check-ins and other interactions.

Create more checkin-only offers and opportunities

Approach the motivation to check in from all angles. People are incentivized in different ways. Try a checkin-only offer or prize, and make sure attendees know they need to be checked in to register for special sessions.

Continue the behavior and the conversation

If you’re holding a multi-day event, send an email or a push notification reminding attendees to check in on the second day, too. Remind them of check-in only offers and the benefits of joining the community.

Interested in using a mobile app to increase attendee engagement at your next event? Try using Guidebook for check-ins, photo sharing, contact swapping and more!

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It’s easy to build and publish a guide to your event, school, location, or anything else.

One small tweak to your workflow can help: Instead of viewing the current week, view the week that starts today.

This Today Plus Six view is more relevant and useful as you work.

It’s easier to find today. Today is always the first day shown. No more searching for the red dot to figure out where you are. Today is always in the same place.

It’s easier to find today.

You feel a better sense of progress. Do you ever feel like the week drags on? It’s no wonder—your calendar only changes once every seven days! Without a feel of the passing of time, it’s easy to feel like there’s no urgency. When the calendar updates every day and you can see things coming, you can feel the progress. Today’s a new day with new challenges.

You feel a better sense of progress.

You can see the approaching landscape. As you travel, the GPS continually updates to show you the approaching turns and intersections. To stay productive, you need the same regulary-updated information.

You can see the approaching landscape.

See how one week connects with the next. The week is a great unit to plan around, but it’s not isolated. This is easier to see if you think of the work week: the gap between Friday and Monday is the same as the gap between Thursday and Friday.

See how one week connects with the next.

If you also turn off weekends, you can see your work calendar go from Thursday to Friday, then straight to Monday, then Tuesday and Wednesday. It changes your perspective when you see the weeks abut like that.

To set up Today Plus Six:

If you use this computer for work, there are two more things you’ll want to adjust:

These will help keep your work calendar focused on work and give a great sense of continuity. Now if there were just a way to remove work hours to create a similarly focused home calendar perspective…

By viewing the week as today plus the next six (or four) days, we have a more dynamic view of the week. Instead of a folding map, we have a GPS to guide us through the week. Your calendar is one of the most important productivity tools you have; make sure it’s showing you the right things.

Question: How do you have your calendar set up? Share your thoughts in the comments , on Twitter , LinkedIn , or Charming Natural 9mm Pink Coral Bracelet Stretchy Style 17cm Presented in Jewellery gift Box Bg3V3Ln
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In Bilam’s second failed attempt to curse , he proclaimed to Balak, “ ” (23:20), which Ibn Ezra translates to mean, “Behold, I have received a blessing; He has blessed, and I shall not revoke it.” Bilam told Balak that God has given him a blessing to pronounce upon , and so he is compelled to do so.
Rashi explains in a slightly different fashion, interpreting the first phrase of this verse to mean, “Behold I have received [an instruction] to bless.” According to Rashi, the word “ ” must be understood as a verb, rather than a noun. Thus, when Bilam speaks here of having “received” something, it must mean that he has received God’s instruction to bless , in spite of Balak’s having commissioned him to curse them. This is also the approach taken by Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, who notes that the word “ ” often means “teaching” or “instruction,” as in the famous verse in Mishlei (4:2) , “ ” (“For I have given you sound instruction”). The word “ ” used here by Bilam, then, refers to a mission that Bilam was instructed to fulfill. He was charged with the mission of blessing , and he was therefore dutybound to deny Balak’s wishes and bless the nation he was commissioned to curse.
Bilam’s pronouncement in this verse may perhaps be viewed as expressing the charge that each and every one of us has received. We, too, are given the “mission” to “bless” our fellowman, to look upon people kindly and positively, and to sincerely wish for their good fortune. Very often, we hear the voice of “Balak,” either in our own minds or from other people, summoning us to “curse” – to dislike, to suspect, to condemn and to resent. That voice convinces us, as Balak convinced Bilam, that we need to hate somebody because he or she poses a threat that must be protected against through hostility. And we, like Bilam, are all too eager to comply. There is a certain thrill and satisfaction we receive by “cursing,” by casting somebody as a dangerous threat and rushing to condemn, malign and despise that individual. But as Balak told Bilam, “For I will bestow upon you great honor” (22:17). The origin and source of this passionate longing to “curse” is our own ego, the desire to feel important and superior. Perceiving a person or group of people as a dangerous threat that we need to protect against allows us to perceive ourselves as heroes, as great defenders. It gives us a holy mission to fulfill, thus giving us a false sense of satisfaction and self-importance.
But if we stop for a moment, pausing to reflect upon the word of God, as Bilam was forced to do, we will realize that our mission is to do just the opposite. We will realize that “ ,” that our mission, in all but rare, exceptional cases, is not to condemn, but to compliment. We are to bless, not curse. We should be identifying what is admirable and praiseworthy about other people, not what is lacking and deficient about them. Sure, it feels better to “curse” than to “bless”; to criticize and find fault, than to compliment and admire. But our “mission” is precisely to find and respect all that is good about others, not to find and dislike the bad. We must respond very cautiously to the calls from the various “Balaks” to dislike and oppose other people. While there are, of course, individuals and movements that indeed pose a danger that demands action, very often, the perceived threat is not real. In most instances, our “mission” is to admire and respect, to find what is praiseworthy about our fellow and learn from his or her positive qualities.
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