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Event Feedback Basics--Part 1: Learning How to Listen

by John Hunter Despite working in a digital age that’s made it easier than ever to meet with people and conduct business virtually, face-to-face interactions win the day. For proof, just look at the growth and investment in the event marketing industry. And because of this growth, it’s become increasingly critical for marketers, meeting and event planners, and business decision-makers to ensure that money is spent wisely, and that each event investment is maximizing the organization’s ability to build stronger relationships and improve overall ROI. One great way to do that: event feedback.

Whether you use that feedback to assess content, logistics, venue, or location, it’s critical to understanding if a particular event met—and, ideally, exceeded—your attendees' expectations and helped your organization meet its goals. And when that feedback is leveraged as part of a more robust, programmatic loop that generates strategic insights before, during, and after events, that direct intelligence becomes even more powerful. In this multi-part series, we'll explore the ways in which event feedback is typically collected and used, the difference between feedback “projects” and “programs,” the mechanics of a comprehensive feedback loop, and how smart event feedback can make it much easier to prove Return on Event (ROE).

Typically Collected and Used Feedback Collecting event feedback it isn’t a revolutionary concept. In fact, when most businesses host events, summits, trade shows, or other live meetings, they generally attempt to collect some sort of feedback. The problem? More often than not, those organizations collect feedback only after the event—sometimes through postcard mailings or other non-digital means. While the information collected from those sources can provide some insight, that singular approach severely limits the scope of intelligence you can generate from an event. Here are two reasons why: Non-digital feedback isn’t immediate.

If you’re trying to collect feedback by mail or through paper surveys, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to make immediate improvements. The longer you wait to gather feedback, the less you’re able to tap into each person’s excitement and the more likely it is that specific details will have faded from their memory. Post-event feedback doesn’t tell the whole story.

In fact, it’s very often generic and watered down, largely because you’re asking someone to recap or reflect on their entire event experience, rather than individual, in-the-moment experiences. So, what's the better approach? Thanks to technology, marketers and event organizers are now able to capture much richer feedback from a much more diverse array of intelligence, all while attendees are at peak engagement with the event. For example:

  • Surveys can be delivered and accessed through embedded email links and QR codes, or built directly into mobile event apps. This allows feedback to be collected immediately after breakout sessions or keynote speeches.

  • Social media chatter can be monitored in real-time. This helps marketers and event organizers capture sentiment and identify opportunities for involvement in real-time.

  • Survey kiosks can provide opportunities for more in-depth feedback. Mobile feedback surveys are a great medium for giving respondents a way to provide feedback from anywhere and at anytime, but kiosks also give hosts—and attendees—yet another chance to ask and say more.

  • Pre- and post-event emails give attendees the chance to provide detailed suggestions. This touch point ensures people’s voices are heard before and after events, and it also covers attendees who might not have answered questions on-site.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Savvy event organizers and marketers today are relying on much more than follow-up surveys to take the pulse of their events. Instead, they’re building methodical feedback strategies that more effectively and efficiently improve the entire event experience. Up next: Strategic Feedback Programs vs. Ad-hoc Feedback.

John Hunter John is the Senior Manager of Event Cloud Content Marketing at Cvent. He has 11 years of experience writing about the meetings and events industry. John also has extensive copywriting experience across diverse industries, including broadcast television, retail advertising, associations, higher education, and corporate PR.



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