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Event Feedback Basics–Part 2: Strategic Feedback vs. Ad-hoc Feedback

by John Hunter It’s understandable why meeting and event feedback often gets neglected by marketers and event planners. After all, there’s a lot that goes into planning and executing a successful event. Most notably, you need to pick the venue, plan the sessions, coordinate speakers, book sponsors, and develop experiences that deliver memorable value. As a result, even if an event planner understands that collecting feedback is important, they often approach it casually—fitting it in when they have time between endless meetings and strategy sessions. This approach to feedback—what we like to call “ad-hoc feedback projects”—is very different from more optimal “strategic feedback programs” in a number of key ways. Specifically, here’s how feedback projects and programs vary:

  • Ad-hoc feedback projects are defined by haphazard, short-term execution and more reactive lurching from one feedback project to the next. This approach generally yields surface-level insights that aren’t very valuable, largely because the organization lacks the necessary structure to truly understand and follow-up on them. As a result, this approach typically fails to deliver the level of intelligence that marketers and event planners need to move the needle on attendee experience.

  • Strategic feedback programs, on the other hand, are personified by long-term, solution-oriented investments that are geared toward truly understanding attendees’ needs, interests, and experience. Because these programs encapsulate a series of ongoing projects, they tend to yield comprehensive insight that evolves as attendees and events evolve. Now, which one do you think would deliver greater value for your organization?

While feedback programs might be harder to sell internally initially, they tend to be more integrated with everything that’s going on at a strategic level within the organization. They’re part and parcel to the lifeblood of the organization and, over time, they help you triangulate how to operate in the market. Also, because these programs by definition are more strategic, they tend to be set up in a way that supports:

  • Longitudinal trending and tracking: This allows you to see how a specific “pulse” fits into—or works against—a broader scheme, goal, or objective. One-off feedback projects, on the other hand, provide only granular insight that lacks any basis to identify key trends, track progress, and compare past results.

  • More advanced analyses and bigger picture planning: Because strategic feedback programs deliver more sophisticated, contextual insight, you gain the ability to benchmark data and put pieces of smaller information into a bigger picture puzzle. This helps you make smarter, more effective decisions that improve every aspect of the event experience—today and well into the future.

  • Bottom-line results: While strategic feedback programs require more time and money initially, the long-term benefits to your bottom line are well worth it. Over time, the insight this approach helps you gather (and the types of changes it empowers you to make) will deliver far more value than an ad-hoc survey product.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Yes, planning and executing an event is a hectic process that requires a lot of time and energy. But that’s precisely why investing in a strategic feedback program is so important. By gathering feedback purposefully and programmatically, it will be far easier to see and analyze trends, and walk away with a clear plan to make meaningful improvements. And when attendees provide insight into the venues, topics, speakers, and experiences they prefer, your planning process becomes much more efficient. Next up, Part 3: The Mechanics of a Comprehensive Event Feedback Lifecycle. Click here for part 1 in our series.

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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