5 reasons not to hand out paper at a conference
According to a study by, on average, a single conference attendee produces 1.89 kg (4.17 lbs) of wastepaper per day. Most of that is handouts: booklets, cards, programs, surveys, questionnaires, and gift bags are an essential part of a conference. Organizers devote a major part of their budget to them. Handouts, however, generate almost zero profit and, on top of that, are harmful to the environment.

In the 21st century, getting rid of this outdated format is long overdue. It's time for conference and exhibition organizers to start getting important information to attendees in a way that, among other things, turns a profit. In other words, it's time to turn to electronic services like mobile apps. And the 2Meet team has 5 reasons why.

The first reason is cost. If organizers are providing a conference of 100 people with an event program and description, they print a minimum of two booklets per person, or 200 total. But what do you do when 1,000 guests plan to attend? Think about how many people are involved in the creation of one small sheet of glossy paper. A designer, a copywriter, an editor, the printers: every one of them has to be paid. And that's just a small portion of the handouts. Add in the cost of printing gift bags, notepads, and pens, as well as the price of recycling, and you end up with a hefty sum: 25-30% of the entire event budget.

The second reason is the environment. If you walk around an exhibition hall—or, even better, the building itself—after a conference has ended and look in the dumpsters and garbage bins, you'll realize that's where 60% of the booklets end up. Going green has taken the business world by storm, and tossing a ton of paper in the trash obviously doesn't make the grade.

Electronic services, from mobile apps to PC versions, can solve both these problems. The cost of digital solutions is often cheaper than the total cost of printing, and they're getting even less expensive over time. With these services, organizers can post a map of exhibitor booths, the conference program, posters, and surveys online. In other words, they can eliminate several kinds of paper handouts immediately just by going digital.

The third reason is increasing participant engagement with the event. An app sets the tone for a new method of networking, whereas print materials are steadily becoming a relic of the past. Guests are sure to be impressed when they get 24/7 access to the event map, live updates to the schedule, and the ability to instantly respond to surveys. In addition, apps allow organizers to add game activities where participants can win prizes (like a discount on a taxi).

The fourth reason is that an app is undoubtedly more convenient, since it is always at your guests' fingertips. It's unlikely that an attendee will forget their phone in their hotel room, but it doesn't matter to them if they lose a printed program, throw it out, or use it for some other purpose. Of course, installing an app isn't easy for everyone. It's possible that the first few times you'll still need to use a printer to distribute information about how to install it. But this will certainly eat up significantly less time and money than printing all the material you want to hand out to guests.

Finally, the fifth reason is that swapping paper for a mobile app doesn't mean losing an advertising platform. In one of our previous articles, we discussed how digital services help sell sponsor packages and deliver advertising info to users. Organizers can provide visible and empty spots in the app to their title sponsor for advertising purposes, add a list of other partners as a separate line of text in the app's page layout, and include clickable logos. What's more, apps enable organizers to offer prize raffles for completing a quiz, as well as discounts and promo codes for participants who register on the app and attend the conference. Another plus is push notifications, which organizers and sponsors can use to provide every participant at the event with important information.

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