Whether you are hosting a virtual event or live event, gathering and analyzing survey data is the best way to improve your events. And by improving your events, your business will see a larger impact from the event.
For internal events: increased productivity, loyalty, and collaboration.
For external events: leader generation, brand loyalty, and partner engagement.
All in all, the effect of not having a post-event survey strategy is basically leaving money on the table.
Everything You Need to Know About Event Feedback
As event planners, we can speculate all we want about what went wrong, post-mortem, and what can be improved, but the most effective route is always sending a survey immediately after the event.
Surveys are one of the best tools you have to in planning an event because it is unbiased, unfiltered opinions straight from your attendees’ eyes.
And if great surveys provide vital data to improve different elements of the event, a great survey asks the right questions.
Combining Qualitative and Quantitative
Event technology captures a ridiculous amount of details that some event planners never end up leveraging. It can get very granular and if you don’t have the expertise, or team, to analyze it, it’s wasted.
However, this is primarily quantitative data.
- Registration stats
- Sponsorship stats
- Attendance stats
There a million ways to slice and dice each of those buckets with the multitude of statistics you’ll get.
While this is fantastic, if you are only looking at quantitative data, you may be missing the bigger picture.
For instance, what if you noticed that on the second day of your conference, the morning sessions had radically lower attendance?
If you are only looking at the numbers, you might assume the sessions weren’t interesting, or that the speakers were bad.
But unless you get qualitative data from attendees you might not know that there was a big party the night before hosted by another company exhibiting at the same conference, and everyone was simply too hungover to make it to your morning meetings.
Based on quantitative data alone, you might completely abandon those sessions next year, when in fact they were some of the most interesting available.
With qualitative data, you can make the smart decision to simply move the session to an afternoon time slot.
Everyone Gets a Survey
Everyone who attended the event should receive the survey, even your staff!
You really need a holistic picture of how your event went, and this means creating different survey types.
Some common types are:
- Staff survey,
- Member survey,
- Supplier survey,
- Sponsor survey,
Each group will have a different perspective of the event based on their role and sessions attended, and thus will also have different ideas and feedback to better your event in the future.
Get Your Survey Out of the Door ASAP
Post event surveys should be sent out as soon as possible after your event concludes! Ideally, the same day or the next day.
This is because, statistically, you’ll have a higher response rate the closer you are to the end of the event, and the emotions people have regarding the event are ‘fresher’. Meaning, your qualitative data will be better.
Track who replies, and send at least 1-2 reminders out before compiling and reporting on your survey results.
Typical Delivery Methods
You have a couple of options for delivery.
- Manually hand out hard copies at the end of your event or at the end of each session
- Send out via email
- Share through the event app while the event is still on-going
If your registration platform includes surveys, that is a great resource and tool we suggest utilizing as it allows you to keep on your data consolidated. The tool allows you to email all your attendees directly with the survey via your registration platform which then integrates with your reporting functions – you can easily pull reports daily to see the feedback.
We like to use Cvent’s survey platform, which allows you to customize your survey to fit the needs of your event.
Preparing Your Event Survey
When creating your survey, it helps to have the event agenda on hand.
Also, consider preparing your survey in advance, or while you have downtime at your event.
While preparing it in advance is the proactive approach, there might be either a) aspects you didn’t think of before your event, or b) something new gets introduced during your event that you want feedback on.
Either way, having the survey knocked out prior to the end of the event ensures that you get it sent out to your attendees right after your event concludes.
Example Survey Questions
Every event survey is likely different. Even for the same event, you’ll have different surveys for different types of attendee/registration types.
Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of standard ‘starter’ questions you should have with every survey that will act as a starting point for you to build out the remained of your list.
Start your survey with the overall/broad questions that pertain to all attendees.
- Overall satisfaction of the event
- Value of meeting based on time invested and benefits received
- Did the event meet your expectations?
- Would you attend this event again in the future?
- Would you recommend this event to a friend or colleague?
- How would you rate the venue?
- How would you rate the registration experience (pre-event and onsite)?
- How would you rate the food & beverage served at the event?
- How can we improve for next year?
- Any other suggestions or feedback you would like to share?
Make comment boxes available as well after each question.
Once you have selected your overall questions you can then go into the more detailed questions that pertain to each agenda item you had throughout your event:
- General sessions (speakers and topics addressed/presented)
- Breakout sessions (speakers and topics addressed/presented)
- Networking events / social gatherings
We recommend putting comment boxes with every question if possible.
This way attendees can explain their answers in more detail, whether it be praise or recommendations on ways to better your event for next year.
Post event surveys are the easiest and most cost-efficient way to improve next year’s event. A simple survey can have a wildly impactful increase in ROI.
So, listen to your staff and attendees, and leverage that data insight to show your leadership of the improvement, and have a stellar year of events.
Lastly, be sure to ask the right questions, at the right time!
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J.Shay Team is the generic alias for our event staff that want to submit work anonymously.