Birthday surprise: Cultivate’18 app adds to show experience

Having a birthday on June 27 is pretty sweet. It’s  six months away from Christmas. You share a birthday with Helen Keller and Captain Kangaroo. But it also means that Cultivate’18 is less than three weeks away, so it’s crunch time for exhibitors like us.

As I was visiting the Cultivate’18 website yesterday morning to check a hotel reservation, I came across a great birthday surprise: AmericanHort launched a Cultivate’18 app! It’s available for download on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

And let me tell you, this is a high-quality app, especially for AmericanHort’s first time attempting one. On first glance, the app looks great, looks logically laid out, and runs pretty smoothly. But let’s dive a bit deeper to make sure this book’s as good as its cover.

Cultivate’18 app from a usability standpoint

First of all, the Cultivate’18 app is designed for smartphones. I’m using an iPad to go through the app while I’m sitting at my desk. It looks great on a tablet, but it doesn’t rotate from a vertical orientation. If you don’t mind that and prefer a larger format, it seems to run clean.

When you first bring up the app, it defaults to a sign-in option with a request to sign up on the bottom. The first time I opened the app, I accidentally clicked out of that screen, but I had access to most every function. I couldn’t find a place on the main menu that said “log in” after that, but there was an option to sign in under the My Show Planner tab.

The Cultivate’18 app has both swipers and clickers covered. All of the main tabs can be brought up by clicking the hamburger menu in the upper right corner. Also, users can swipe left to scroll through each of the main menu items. Also, you can swipe to scroll through the sub-menu items as well.

One of the things I’m most impressed with the Cultivate’18 app is its speed. Whether it’s a graphically intense, interactive item like the floor plan or brief paragraph on a sub-menu, the app responds with great speed. For testing purposes, I turned off my WiFi, and nearly everything in the app is still accessible, which is great news for people who might not get a signal on the trade show floor.

Cultivate’18 app from a content standpoint

AmericanHort has hit a home run with the content for the Cultivate’18 app. There’s a few things I thought of that could be added to the app, but nothing earth-shattering. Let’s call this a solid home run in the fifth inning of a game in late-May, not a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series. Still, it’s way above expectations for a first-time app.

Nearly everything you need to navigate through the conference area of the Greater Columbus Convention Center is right on the app. This especially is important for people who may not have attended Cultivate in a few years with the recent renovations.

The floor plans for the Solutions Marketplace, the New Products Zone and the New Varieties Zone are outstanding. The huge Solutions Marketplace map has everything a person needs when trying to navigate a trade show floor. Of course, the booths are all listed, but so are the bathrooms, snack counters, first aid, the secondary exhibits and the names of the exhibit halls. This is important because the exhibit hall names are in different locations. (The Practical Software Solutions, 3609, was in Hall C, and now the same location is in Hall A.)

Cultivate'18 app floor plan

It’s great that you can rotate the map as well as zoom in.

Now for the cool stuff: Every exhibitor’s booth is a link to a page for more information. From that page, you can add the exhibitor to the Show Planner, mark the exhibitor as visited, add notes and even add photos. That’s great for people who may want to remember a specific product on a shelf or want to take a picture of a business card instead of having them pile up.

While it’s standard practice for a map to zoom in and out by pinching it, but the Cultivate’18 maps can also rotate by rotating your pinched fingers. This really helps since the app doesn’t rotate itself, so you can move the map around for a horizontal view.

The Cultiavte’18 app also has all the conference information right at your fingertips. You can search exhibitors and sessions, and place them in My Show Planner. There, you can see which exhibitors you highlighted and a calendar for sessions. You can also see an overview schedule of the conference, and events taking place surrounding the conference.

Cultivate'18 app Practical

This is what the Practical Software Solutions entry looks like when you click on our booth on the map.

My favorite part of the app is the About section, where AmericanHort has taken the time to let attendees know what’s what in their fair city of Columbus, Ohio. So many times, big conferences like Cultivate’18 forget that people don’t just go to a conference when they go to a conference. And that doesn’t mean people play hooky. When I leave from work every day, I don’t go home and instantly go to bed, and people don’t do that at conferences either.

I love the Staff Picks section. The best thing you can do in an unfamiliar city is to ask a local what’s good. Several of the AmericanHort staff give their top picks for food and fun. Where the Plant Geeks Geek Out is a great call for those who can’t get enough horticulture in their work life. It also shows what’s in walking distance and what’s a bit of a drive away of the convention center.

All in all, I think the Cultivate’18 app is a solid A for a first glance. Really, the only thing I think is missing is a layout of where all the food locations are inside the convention center, and not just on the trade show floor. The folks at AmericanHort have done a great job putting the conference information at the tip of everyone’s fingers.

Have you downloaded the Culitvate’18 app? How do you like it? What’s your favorite part? Let us know in the comments!

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