September 01, 2001
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September 2001 Current Issue
September 2001 Back to BasicsPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

Back to Basics

By John Chang


Surveys before, during and after the event can help improve a meeting and prove its worth

If you have not yet had to cancel any events, chances are that mandate is around the corner. Choosing which ones should go is not easy. To convince higher-ups that an event should stay, planners need to have information proving the meeting’s worth.

The following examines how to prove the value of meetings by gathering and analyzing attendee feedback. This information also adds to your knowledge of your customers/attendees and provides insights that can be used to refine marketing strategies.

Ensure that your company meets its event objectives by establishing regular contact with attendees and encouraging their feedback. This critical data enables you to tie the success of your meeting to your organization’s ability to meet your customers’ needs.

Online surveys. Use the Internet to create and send surveys at any point before, during or after an event. Response reports provide a snapshot view of survey data, making analysis easy. For example, to test whether a proposed road show will garner strong interest, survey potential attendees about their willingness to attend.

Pre-event surveys. Meet attendee expectations better by soliciting their preferences beforehand. Ask which topics interest them, and use the data to fine-tune your program. Or, if organizing a customer sales event, use surveys to determine how attendees plan to use the product. Special surveys. During a conference, use an e-mail poll for quick feedback. For example, at a two-day training session, assess attendee satisfaction after day one to determine if they are assimilating the content and learning at a comfortable pace.

Post-event surveys. Feedback is critical in determining whether the meeting’s objectives were achieved. For customer sales events, ask about attendees’ intent to purchase and within what time frame. Track data over time to understand the role your meeting played in generating sales. After an educational event, ask attendees their opinions of the program, speakers and sessions. Pinpoint which classes were well received and where you need improvement.

Gathering the right customer data can help your organization target sales and marketing efforts, and increase attendee satisfaction.

Signing in. Gather valuable demographic and attitudinal information through the registration process. For a customer event, consider profiling attendees based on their budgets, purchase time frames and interest in new products. Disseminate this data to salespeople for follow-up and sales forecasting.

If your company is holding an investor road show, use the registration form to learn how attendees see your company. This will help the organization address misperceptions during the event and convey appropriate messages in future marketing efforts.

For events surrounding new products, find out attendees’ presentation preferences. Clients might feel they can get a more thorough knowledge of your product via a hands-on demo vs. a PowerPoint presentation.

Reports based on the information gathered can reveal an event’s return on investment. For example, run a cross-event attendance report for all the cities where a road show was held. Examine this information to pinpoint regions that might require a boost in marketing efforts.

Cross-event reports also can show which regional sales seminars were attended by your target prospects. For example, the New York City seminar might have had more attendees, but the Chicago seminar was attended by your target profile the top executives.

John Chang is CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based seeUthere (, an online registration and e-marketing service.

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