Mobile innovation comes to Coachella: Why event apps are a hot mobile trend

By Rose de Fremery

Concertgoers standing in front of a stage use mobile innovation to film a musical performance


Whether it’s Coachella or SXSW, every major event seems to have a corresponding flagship app. Although social media still serves as an important back channel at many industry conferences and cultural events, apps have in many ways taken center stage. Thanks to impressive mobile innovation, these apps now provide one-stop shopping for everything an attendee could ever need. From helpful chatbots to a dazzling AR experience, event participants can now find it in an app.

Here’s a look at some of the top event apps and why they’re so effective at engaging attendees:

Mobile innovation: Coachella Mobile

Taking place every spring in the Coachella Valley of Southern California, the Coachella Music and Arts Festival has become a cultural lodestone for millennials and Gen Z. Accordingly, its mobile experience caters to their tastes and preferences. As App Annie reports, music is an important driver of the app economy, making it only logical for Coachella to embrace apps. The festival’s main app, Coachella Mobile, is a central clearinghouse for everything involved with attending the event, from listening to curated playlists so attendees can select shows to see to activating festival wristbands for entrance to the festival.

Coachella festivalgoers can create a personalized schedule in Coachella Mobile and share it with friends, adding their favorite performers and receiving notifications when a performance is about to begin so they don’t miss any of the fun. Updated maps help them navigate the sprawling venue. Attendees can also use the app to discover activities, locate food and beverage vendors and find amenities. In addition, they can purchase merchandise and memorabilia in the online store.

Coachella’s mobile app also boasts a new AR feature called Coachella Camera, which allows festivalgoers to easily locate and purchase Coachella merchandise on site. Coachella Camera also gave attendees exclusive glimpses of AR art installations throughout the festival grounds, augmenting one of the real-world highlights of the festival. Coachella’s organizers carefully tailored their mobile experience to their audience’s tastes, expertly showcasing the event’s trademark musical and artistic attractions while also providing a comfortable consumer experience.


SXSW is one of the premier events for the tech industry, although it also has a strong cultural component due to its equally influential film, music, interactive and educational lineups. Accordingly, the Austin–based mega-conference boasts a powerful app where attendees can access everything they need to make sense of an otherwise overwhelming array of experiences. The app, SXSW Go, addresses this challenge by generating personalized recommendations for events an attendee might want to explore.

Since SXSW is spread out across a wide range of facilities, offering 8,000 sessions across 600 venues, it can be tricky to figure out how to get to all of the events on one’s agenda or even simply where to grab a breakfast taco before starting the day. To help solve this common problem, SXSW Go features a map that helps attendees navigate Austin and its facilities with ease. As of this year, SXSW Go even gives users a handy heads-up on which events are filling up so they can hurry to the venue or make backup plans instead of waiting in endless lines for sessions they’ll never be able to enter. Should attendees still need a little insight on how to figure out what’s happening and how to get there, a friendly chatbot named Abby stands by ready to answer any questions.

Networking is a major part of SXSW, so the SXSW Go app also offers features to help its attendees locate and connect with promising contacts with whom they might collaborate or pursue promising ventures. This mobile innovation is expertly designed for the professional setting and the distinct goals of the SXSW set, which often comes to Austin for the business opportunities as much as for the events themselves.

NYFW: The Shows

Strutting into the Big Apple each February and September, New York Fashion Week is one of the most prestigious global fashion events today. Now attendees can experience every moment of this glittering spectacle with a clean, minimalist app that is tailored to their unique needs and preferences. Known as NYFW: The Shows, this app features Beacon-based personalized notifications, live streaming and a news feed that helps participants stay on top of developments at the fashion extravaganza.

Trends are of special interest to this audience, so the NYFW app incorporates several features that help attendees spot what’s trending on the runways in New York in real time. For example, as InStyle reports, a trending colors feature highlighted the fact that a specific shade of coral dominated the collections appearing in New York this February. Meanwhile, using data analytics, the app’s creators were able to determine which looks were most popular among users of the NYFW app as well as Instagram. Using mobile technology, they showcased the top dress of each day during the event.

Perhaps most intriguingly, designers Badgley Mischka rolled out an app of their own that invited fashionistas to rate the clothes they debuted on the catwalk. As MarketWatch notes, 179 users from 17 different countries cast 1,396 votes during the 15-minute show. A crimson ballgown received considerable praise, as did a short black dress. And crucially, the designers got the instant feedback they needed before releasing their collections to retailers. The app ultimately allowed Badgley Mischka to optimize their sales and production processes while reaching a coveted younger demographic.

The mobility solutions seen at Coachella, SXSW and NYFW are all exceptional because they are so distinctively crafted for their specific audiences. Whereas Coachella’s app places an emphasis on the audiovisual experience and smoothing out the purchasing process, SXSW’s app makes it a priority to help attendees find the events that interest them and successfully network with fellow participants. NYFW’s app, perfectly in line with its setting, spots the trends that have captured everyone’s imagination. For enterprises, the takeaway is clear: Build a relevant, innovative mobile experience that satisfies your attendees’ needs and they will enthusiastically engage with it.

Written By

Rose de Fremery


Rose de Fremery is a New York-based writer. She currently covers business IT topics such as technology innovation, mobile strategy, unified communications, CRM and marketing automation, IT management, and the virtual workforce for HP, Intel, Vonage, and IBM Mobile Business Insights.…

Other Articles by Rose de Fremery
See All Posts