Nothing in life is perfect and that includes your event, no matter how well it has gone. There is always room for improvement and the only way you are going to know how to improve is by actively requesting, gathering and analysing feedback.
There are many methods of gathering feedback and it should be sought from all stakeholders, not just attendees.
You and your team: Whilst you are planning an event you and your team will be noticing things that work and things that don’t. Make note of it at the time, you will probably not remember it later. Have an inbox or folder that all feedback can get stored into, so that individuals can quickly jot down thoughts when they think of them.
Colleagues: You may have colleagues who have not been active in the planning of the event, but have attended, or spoken to those who attended. They may have been active in inviting people to attend. At each point, they have an opportunity of finding out valuable information about how your event is perceived, and how they, as someone separate from it, also see it. Encourage them to pass on the results of conversations they have with others, and their own thoughts as well. You can remind them regularly to forward you the results of correspondence and conversations, or ask them for a follow up after an event.
Suppliers: Ask your suppliers for their opinions. Did they think it went well? Did they have what they needed to perform their role? Did they notice or overhear any conversations from attendees? A quick conversation post event can be very revealing.
Sponsors: If your event is sponsored, it is essential you gather their thoughts on the event. Both before and after the event, you must understand what their expectations are and whether you have met them.
Attendees: Of course the most important stakeholder is the attendee. Getting feedback from attendees is both crucial and difficult. Without feedback from attendees, you won’t know if you have succeeded at the goal of your event – “bums on seats” isn’t the end, but only the starting point. If your goal was to develop more business, did this happen? If not, why not? Was it to improve your reputation? Was it successful at doing so?
Methods of Feedback
Survey: Surveys can give a general view and have many benefits – you can gather a lot of feedback into a set structure from many different people. However there are also drawbacks. Unless you are offering something in return, attendees are less likely to participate in a survey after the fact. The people who respond are most likely to be either big fans or definitive detractors, so you may get quite polarised results. Surveys requested at the time of an event, on the other hand, can be invasive and distracting, taking attendees away from the point of the event. In order to get attendees to participate, surveys are usually short and very top line, and won’t give you the necessary detail.
Direct Telephone Call: Select a few, at random is best, to call directly. In a direct conversation, you can ask for more detail. You can cover more and in greater detail, and you can follow up on subtleties in language, so pay attention and read between the lines. Don’t just make calls yourself, but ask others in your team or company to do so, particularly if you think the attendee will be more open and honest with someone else. But be careful not to lead the conversation, do not implant your ideas into their minds, keep questions open-ended.
Conversations: Sometimes the best methods are the most indirect – conversations had or overheard at the event itself. Ask your team and colleagues to make note of any informal comments they have had or heard.
Focus Groups: If you want to really interrogate in detail many aspects of your event, hold a focus group. It is important to have a very clear structure to your group, and to be clear about what you want to cover and get out of the discussion. You need to give participants the opportunity to individually express their views, i.e. in an opening questionnaire, and then you can use this as the starting point for discussion.
Things to Review
Branding & Media: Does your branding convey the right message? Is it eye catching? Are there media you aren’t utilising? Are there media that aren’t working or are not pitched at the right level?
Communications: Are your methods of marketing effective? Is the content right? Is the information you are sending pre-event helpful or unnecessary? Is there anything you can and should be sending post-event that your target market would find useful?
Suppliers: How are your suppliers performing? Is there service matched to your and your attendees expectations?
Content: Is the content of your event interesting and meeting a need of the audience? What would your audience like to hear about?
Price: If you charge for your event, is the price right? Do the attendees feel they are getting value for money?
Comparison with competitors: How do your events compare to other events your attendees are going to?
For help and support with planning your next event, get in touch with Wendy at Wendy Marston Events.