Executing a great event is no small undertaking. Whether you are hosting an annual conference, signature fundraiser of small-scale gathering, making sure the event generates a worthwhile return is important.
While nonprofit fundraisers have the dollars-and-cents bottom line against which to measure their success, for other events determining the ROI can be a bit more challenging. When you aren’t charging a fee to attend, or soliciting sponsorships to offset expenses, what should you measure besides the number of attendees? Start with evaluating attendee satisfaction.
Why did you decide to attend?
With multiple marketing channels at play, it is important to know what drove someone to ultimately take action. When crafting your post-event survey, ask people how they heard about the event and why they decided to attend.
Did the event meet your expectations?
Whether referred by a friend or colleague, or intrigued by an ad, it’s important to know if the attendee experience was met. Remember, every stakeholders needs are different so it is likely responses to this question will vary. While some people attend professional development events for the educational workshop(s), others are most interested in the networking opportunities. Regardless, you want to be sure what was marketed and what was delivered are aligned. And, of course, that you can shore up any gaps for future events and event marketing.
Which aspect(s) did you enjoy most/least?
All event components are not created equal, especially when it comes to day-long events like conferences. In just one day there can be dozens of events taking place, so it’s important to know what worked well and what fell short. Asking people to rate or rank various event components can help to identify how resources should be reallocated for future events and which speakers may warrant a repeat visit.
Would you come back? Would you refer a friend?
There is a difference between enjoying an event and being willing to either come back or refer a friend. Be sure to follow this question with a “Why not?” for those who may answer no. Sometimes, something as simple as the location or time of day can color one’s opinion of an event. You want to be sure you’re refining what truly needs improvement, so gather as much data as you can to inform your next steps.
While a survey that contains only open response questions – no matter how brief – can make data analysis challenging, you do want to provide an opportunity for respondents to share additional feedback. These open response questions demonstrate not only that you value attendees’ feedback, but offer insight into how they think about the event. For example, while you may not have asked about the ease of finding parking, stakeholders may have felt that a lack of parking diminished the event experience. On the flipside, you may have allocated a short period of time to networking and they may have found the attendee base so strong that they wanted more time to make connections. Use this data to improve future events – and to refine the questions you ask on post-event surveys.
Something as simple as a three-to-five question electronic survey can help to prioritize planning and marketing resources for future events. By understanding what attendees want, what they don’t want, and where they see opportunities for improvement can help to drive increased registration/attendance and amplify the value of your events as marketing, recruitment and engagement tools.