by Sarah J.F. Braley | September 01, 2007

Robyn Renner

Robyn Renner

A number of tools exist to help planners assess a meeting’s return on investment from a monetary perspective. To determine whether events live up to educational and institutional goals, Maritz Travel has introduced Meetings Effectiveness, an ROI tool that uses attendee surveys and other processes.

“The methodology, and the predictive modeling research that supports it, enables organizations to understand better the needs as well as the learning and communication styles of their attendees,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of the St. Louis-based meetings management consulting firm.

The process begins with the alignment phase, bringing the meeting’s stakeholders together to match the event’s objectives with the company’s goals. This information is used to create a pre-event audience survey and a customized simulator to predict attendee response to various event scenarios.

Surveys also are conducted during and after the meeting. The results are fed into the Event Measurement Scorecard, which demonstrates how the event performed against corporate goals. Finally, all the information is gathered to build out a plan for the next year.

One of the earliest adopters of the service was Bayer HealthCare, based in Morristown, N.J., which used Meetings Effectiveness to help evaluate its national sales meeting. At the time the assessment began last November, the meeting’s budget hadn’t increased in eight years, “and I was facing a cut,” said Robyn Renner, manager of sales performance and development, sales solutions, at Bayer. When the results came in after the meeting in January and post-event assessments were completed, Ren-ner’s budget was increased, and Maritz was brought in last month to begin evaluating a series of sales meetings scheduled for next year.

“[Management] is not cognizant of the tool,” said Renner. “They just are very cognizant of the results that came out of it.” She added, “Rather than judging the effectiveness of an event by what people liked or didn’t like, this judges it by what people actually learned and what they took away for application to the business.”

The cost of Meetings Effectiveness varies, depending on the consulting arrangement and scope of the surveys.