Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio
Back to Basics
By Martha Jo Dendinger, CMP
OBTAINING QUALITY FEEDBACK
Gathering data from one event can make planning the next one
Every meeting has some elements that work perfectly and others
that could have been done differently or even eliminated
altogether. Immediately after the event, the planning staff should
have a postmortem, sharing their observations.
Such sessions are helpful, certainly, but they are not enough.
Planners should take a more formal approach to evaluating a
meeting’s strengths and weaknesses, and then use that data to
improve upon future events.
IT’S SCIENTIFICRelevance of the themeClarity of the meeting’s purposeTotal designRelated eventsThe meeting facilityMarketing elementsAttendee costsSpeakers/presentersTransportationExhibition/displaysThe registration processClass materialsEntertainmentReceptions/breaks/food and beverage eventsGuest programs
Almost every aspect of a meeting can be scientifically measured.
Evaluations reveal the satisfaction of attendees and can inspire
future programming ideas. Among items that can be rated:
Members of your own staff, your boss, suppliers and vendors also
can provide insight. These important players can evaluate the
meeting management and communications, and their suggestions can be
used to improve future events.
Questions that can be asked of staff and suppliers include the
following.Was required information provided?Were communications timely?What could have been done differently or better?
Also, survey them for comments they might have overheard from
A GOOD QUESTIONKeep it simple, short and direct. Ask only one
item in each question. Choose words that everyone will interpret
equally; for example, “The speaker was knowledgeable on the
subject.”Ask purposeful questions. Before writing the
first question, ask yourself a few. What do you want to learn? How
will you use the information? How will you evaluate the data?
Without a clear purpose, the questions will be less likely to
provide valuable results.Mix up the questions. Open-ended and
fill-in-the-blank questions tend to produce more suggestions but
are difficult to compile. Multiple-choice questions, rankings and
dichotomous questions (“did you like A or B better?”) are easier to
compile and are good for developing statistics but do not let the
respondent make suggestions. Including all types of questions
results in a wealth of data.
Yes, attendees like to give their opinions, and evaluations provide
an opportunity for them to vent. Yet, most attendees feel deluged
by surveys. Planners increase the odds of getting feedback by
paying careful attention to the structure of the evaluation.
CHOOSE A METHOD
Low response rates and the time-consuming task of calculating
results might convince some planners to skip the entire process.
Before developing an evaluation tool, determine how the results
will be tabulated. In addition to paper questionnaires, evaluations
can be conducted via focus groups and telephone surveys, through
electronic touchpads during the meeting, and in interviews during
and after the meeting. The planner’s goals and budget will
determine the best method.
Generally, the more captive the audience, the higher the
response rate. The response when using a touchpad could be near 100
percent. But more concrete information about the benefits of
attending will be obtained after the meeting is over.Martha Jo Dendinger, CMP, is an independent meeting planner
based in Atlanta.
Back to Current Issue indexM&C
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C