Measuring the success of your event is just as important as the planning but it’s not only ticket sales, attendance numbers or social media engagement you should look at. Let’s say your event was booked out, everything went according to plan and so from your perspective it was a success - can you be certain the attendees feel the same way?
Your event participants will bring different expectations and perspectives and each individual’s experience will be totally unique from the next. What you as the organiser may see as a minor feature or inconvenience, could be thing that makes or breaks an event for a guest. That’s why seeking feedback after your event is so important - especially if you’re planning to hold it again or want to maintain a relationship with attendees!
Asking for feedback about your event can be done in a number of ways and at different times, depending on the type and size of the event and audience. One of the key things to consider is when to survey your event attendees. There are three main options:
Immediately - at the event:
Capturing opinions and feelings while people are still at your event is a great way to get the most accurate and immediate feedback, but it can be difficult to get people to stop and complete a survey in person. Developing an event app allows you to easily integrate questions and polls or you could send SMS messages for a quick and easy way to gain feedback throughout the event. Remember, the simpler you make to answer your survey, the more responses you will receive.
For larger in-person events, you can set up dedicated feedback stations, usually near the exit points, and run a promotion to help incentivise people to respond – ‘share your feedback to win a holiday!’ for example. This works best for events like expos and festivals where guests have already spent an extended period of time and don’t mind taking another five minutes, especially if there’s something in it for them.
Following the event - within 24 - 48 hours
This is the most common time to ask event guests for feedback, as the experience is still fresh in their mind, but they have also had a little time to reflect. We recommend contacting guests within two days of the event in order to get the best quality feedback and highest level of completion – you could even add guests to a prize draw as an incentive for completing the survey.
We often include surveys in our ‘thank you for attending emails’, which also include resources to download post-event (program books and materials, event videos and presentations, certificates and event photos). This creates a more positive experience for attendees, rather than just asking for more of their time. A personal message also goes a long way!
Planning stage - before the event:
If we haven’t been able to ask for feedback during or following an event, or if it’s been a long time between events (as is the case with COVID at the moment!) asking participants for their feedback and suggestions before the event can still be helpful.
For example, one of our clients ran a ‘focus group’ earlier this year, seeking input for their upcoming online Careers Fair. Focus group participants were able to provide suggestions about the event format they would prefer, such as shorter timings and more relevant and targeted content.
Considering the current COVID climate, it may be worthwhile checking in with your audience as their expectations and needs may have changed significantly. It’s also an opportunity to begin communicating any significant changes that may impact their experience so it’s not a surprise on the day.
Asking event participants what they would like to experience can help to build anticipation and a sense of ownership. It gives you the opportunity to bring your audience on the planning journey with you – just don’t disappoint them on the day!
If you have the time and resources (and the support of an amazing event production company!) you could certainly conduct event surveys at all three stages - during, after and in planning – to give you the most complete picture and best chance of success.
Thoroughly understanding your attendee satisfaction levels and pain points will give you a clear and objective picture of whether your event was truly successful - what worked, what didn’t and what you need to improve or change in the future.
Don’t forget to include a good balance of quantitative (measurable and specific - like ratings scores) and qualitative (anecdotal or open ended) questions to get a wide range of feedback to draw on and be prepared to collate and analyse the results (we’ll have to share another blog on this topic later!)
At JTPM, we have created numerous event apps, and put together hundreds of event surveys and feedback forms. Read some of our other blogs including Tips for Successful Online Events or How to go Green at your next Event or give us a call for support and advice.