3 simple ideas for exhibition organisers to get more responses to their post-show surveys

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3 simple ideas for exhibition organisers to get more responses to their post-show surveys


We often come across event and conference organisers who are jaded by their experience with feedback surveys.  They have found their carefully crafted surveys have gathered such little response from delegates and exhibitors that they are of little use for informing the event marketing strategy for the next event cycle.

So before you confine post show surveys to the bin marked “waste of time” is there anything you can do to improve your survey response rates?

The overall design of your survey is critical in getting your responders to the magic “complete” button and there are tips and hints on good survey design here.  But if you can’t even get them to open your survey in the first place, what can you do?

1: Get the timing right

In the time just after your event, your delegates feel most invested and interested in you.  Get your visitor survey out within a few days of your event closing whilst everything is still fresh (painful as it is, this normally means having the bulk of the survey ready before you go on site – although review before sending in case anything happened on site that you did not anticipate in your original questions).  With a well-designed, well-timed survey you can expect response rates of 20-30% and more.

Exhibitor surveys often benefit from being sent a few weeks to a month after the event.  This allows time for the blisters to heal; the hangovers fade and importantly for leads gathered at the event to be developed.  This is critical for an exhibitor to make a genuine assessment of your event and gives a much more accurate picture than questioning a frazzled stand manager on-site.

2: Offer a prize

Complete our survey for entry into a prize draw to win an iPod…

Does this kind of bribery work? 

Only if your respondents believe your offer is genuine (have you made a big fuss of past winners to show that you really do give out the prizes promised?)

Only if your prize is something they actually want – beware of ubiquitous tech prizes that quickly lose their shine.  Is there something specific to your event that will really fire up your delegates?  Can you conspire with your exhibitors or speakers to offer a money-can’t-buy prize or experience?  A recent client organised for all their headline speakers to sign copies of their latest books and offered the set as a prize – 40% response!

Only if your prize is something they can accept – beware the rules that govern gifts and incentives in some industries.  Here prizes that are business or education related might be more appropriate, for example a cohort of doctors could be offered amazon vouchers which they could spend on copies of Grey’s Anatomy if they chose (or indeed Grey’s Anatomy box-sets).

But beware words like Free, Prize etc in email subject lines that could see your lovely survey languishing in the spam folder.

3: Offer a mass incentive

It seems counterintuitive, but rather than a high value prize for one person, consider low value incentives for everyone who completes your visitor feedback survey.  £5 amazon vouchers for 200 responders works out cheaper than an iPad and are easy to administer via a link on the completion page.  And you would be surprised how few are actually redeemed – people are more incentivised by a small certainty than a large possibility.  Cue the debates from the game theorists, but this has saved some very sickly looking surveys in tough markets.

If there is a charity connected to your event, could you make a donation for every survey completed?  Include the total raised so far in your reminder email – surely emotional blackmail is justified in the pursuit of better research (sorry a better world)

Beware offering something connected to your event such as ticket discounts for the next cycle – this isn’t going to incentivise anyone who had a poor experience, and after all, robust results are the reason for doing a survey after your event in the first place.

What’s worked for you?  Are you looking for ideas to improve your event customer feedback?  Get in touch and share your experiences – we’d be happy to chat.



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What they say

  • With Explori’s reports and analytics, we’re much better equipped to evaluate the customers' satisfaction and needs from our events
    Paul Byrom
    MD, Upper Street Events
  • The level of performance data and customer insight that Explori gives us is invaluable to our business and makes my life easier.
    Matthew Benyon
    MD, easyFairs UK
  • We wanted deeper insight into how our strategies impacted the delegate experience, but found conventional survey tools just couldn't deliver. Moving to Explori has completely changed this.
    Jan Barthelemy
    Head of AU & NZ Digital Marketing dmg events
  • We work with Explori to gain deeper insights into our events. The ability to compare results directly with similar events in our portfolio and against industry standards will be incredibly helpful
    Baris Onay
    Group Marketing & Digital Director, ITE
  • Analysis that could have taken the team days was available within hours of the survey going live. We could immediately see how the new German events had performed, against the context of our existing shows. Information like this is essential for informing future business strategy.
    Austen Hawkins
    MD, F2F Events
  • Robust performance metrics and customer feedback is essential for achieving maximum customer satisfaction. Explori will allow us to reach all our exposition delegates regardless of language or location.
    Art Paredes
    Sr. Director, Global Expos, SEMI
  • Explori helps us gain deep insights into the customer experience across our business. Without it, understanding our key performance metrics would be considerably more challenging.
    Andrew Evans
    (former) MD, Centaur Exhibitions
  • Our expansion plans are about both organic and acquired growth and Explori is key to our ability to understand the health and performance of existing assets, as well as those that we’re looking to acquire.
    Renaud Hamaide
    CEO, Comexposium

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