An event planner’s job is to make every event better than the last one.  In the past, planners might have used word of mouth or asked one or two people post-event about their opinions.  But, with today’s availability of data, event companies can not only qualify but quantify the experience through well planned analytics. Having polls and surveys throughout an event can gauge how your audience is feeling about speakers’ presentations, the hotel accommodations, the event technology being utilized, etc.  The data collected can analyze as to what worked and where improvement might be needed for the entire audience experience (pre, during and post). Here are a few best practices to using the analytics that can deliver insights to improve your next event:

Nurture the Database

Event planners tend to work with many of the same attendees from past events. As such, it’s important to develop a database of the people you constantly interact with in a business setting. But, beyond the contact information the database will deliver better insights if you track and collect the attendees’ frequency to your events and identify the “why” they return each time.  This level of information will reveal a strength of the events popularity.  It might be something as important as city or timing but it could be unrecognized such as comfortable chairs or better lunches.  But without tracking, the event planner may never be able to continue this sellable aspect or repeat it.

Exploit the Criticism

Now the hard part. Whatever the attendees had a problem with at the event could actually be more important than any positive response given.  By identifying what was wrong or less desirable from the surveys makes a to do list of must review items for the next event. Was it the hotel experience that turned people off? Or maybe it was the monotonous speaker that made people fall asleep? Whatever the problem was, it’s now available to the event planner to gauge how to correct the situation with those who were more candid in their feedback.  The proactive approach to using analytics will deliver the necessary improvements without making unnecessary changes.  Fix what is broken and promote what is working.

Ask the Right Questions

It is hard enough to have attendees fill out the surveys, so make sure the questions asked are relevant and actionable.  Too often, people get jaded with taking surveys because they do not seem to have any impact or follow up.  Additionally, if you ask too many questions the level of abandonment goes up as well as the ability to engage the data to a level that can deliver insights.  As a result, make sure you identify exactly what you want to know.  It might be as simple as a question on each area of the event such as speaker, accommodations and entertainment.  Do not worry if you only ask a few questions. Sometimes, these can be the most useful surveys that lead to more effective changes.  Just look at the Net Promoter System that is part of the book The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey.

Synthesize Then Analyze

Lastly, all information can help, but data that is able to be aggregated and developed into common themes and results are the most valuable.  A standard format must be put in place when formulating a survey to help deliver the most efficient data. Keeping surveys to a system of multiple choice, ranking and yes and no answers helps with that. If your survey has more comments and open field responses, you gain a lot of interesting responses but it will be difficult to combine and analyze against other responses.