In our previous two posts, we discussed the benefits of gathering more comprehensive feedback throughout an event’s lifecycle. Now, we’ll take a look at how you can gather feedback at each stage of your event, and take full advantage of the intelligence that feedback creates.
Gathering Feedback Before Your Event
At this stage, there’s one question you want to answer: What do attendees want?
To get that information, you’ll want to survey attendees to ensure that the content you present, the venue you book, the speakers you invite, and the experience you deliver meets—and, ideally, exceeds—their expectations. Surveys can be executed via email, a mobile app, or social networks, and you might consider asking questions like:
- What kinds of sessions would you be interested in attending?
- What types of speakers would you like to hear from?
- Do you prefer a morning, afternoon, or evening event?
- How far are you willing to travel?
Ultimately, pre-event feedback plays a critical factor in creating an experience that attendees won’t forget because it allows you to understand expectations before the event even begins.
Collecting Feedback During Your Event
This is where event insight and intelligence starts to get really interesting. By surveying attendees about each event topic, experience, or speaker, and sharing results throughout the event, you can keep attendees engaged by empowering them to shape the event (which deepens relationships). This feedback collection process also enables real-time improvements and establishes benchmarks for future analysis. There are numerous ways to gather this type of feedback, including:
- Check-in surveys and kiosks: This method provides a frictionless way for attendees to rate experiences in the moment.
- RFID technology: This can be incorporated into event badges, and it allows organizers to analyze attendee activity and personalize surveys for specific behaviors and segments.
- Pulse surveys: These quick surveys, like NPS®, create opportunities to collect immediate, in-moment feedback that captures quick reactions, emotions, and feelings.
Again, the very simple goal here is to keep attendees engaged during the entire event and to collect feedback when it’s fresh in someone’s mind. This will help people feel like they’re a part of the event, while also giving marketers and event planners a data set that’s diverse enough to generate meaningful intelligence and make more impactful decisions.
Following-up After an Event (and Planning the Next One)
Once you’ve accumulated pre-event and in-event feedback, the final phase of the feedback loop is post-event feedback. Feedback at this phase is important for several reasons. It:
- Helps you understand what attendees liked and didn’t like about the event
- Allows you to analyze that feedback against specific investments to evaluate which expenses were (and weren’t) worthwhile
- Allows you to gather information that will make your next event even
With post-event feedback surveys, you might consider asking questions
- Which sessions did you find most informative?
- Which speakers resonated with you most?
- Were there any networking events you enjoyed? Any you would add?
- How would you rate the event timing and location?
- What would you like to see more or less of next year?
With post-event feedback surveys, there are two things to keep in mind. First, in order to encourage maximum participation, you need to give attendees a good reason to share their experience (e.g., discounts on registration to next year’s event, access to copies or eecordings of presentations, etc.). And second, in order to assess every aspect of your event, you’ll want to ask a diverse subset of questions that capture data about everything from attendee demographics to vendor performance.
In a perfect world, you’ll walk away with feedback that helps you evaluate the experience of each attendee (or, at the very least, the general experience for specific personas) and every aspect of the event experience. This intelligence will make planning the next event much more efficient and cost-effective.
At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to get the kind of detailed, granular feedback you need by using only an ad-hoc post-event survey. To make smarter decisions before, during, and after each event, you need to develop a more comprehensive feedback loop that pulls in qualitative and quantitative data. Doing that requires real-time insight gathering from each attendee, at each stage of their experience.