As event survey experts, a question we often get asked by event organisers is what response rate they should aim for in their post-event feedback surveys. Here’s what our Senior Research Manager, Charlotte Penn had to say: So what is a good response rate for your events? For conferences and corporate events, a good response sits between 10% - 20% depending on the size of the event. For live trade shows a good response rate is around 12-15%. If you would like to calculate the best response rate for your event based on the number of attendees click here. Virtual vs live event survey response rates In the video Charlotte shares that response rates for virtual events tend to be lower than their live event counterparts, whilst offering a suggestion for why this might be. For your virtual post-event surveys, Charlotte's advice is to survey your entire attendee population but consider focusing on the response rate as a percentage of your engaged audience. By doing this you'll be able to establish the response rates for your virtual events relative to your live events more closely. How to increase your post-event survey response rates If your response rate is low and you'd like to know how to increase it, we have five top tips for how to increase email survey response rates.: Market your surveys - make sure your attendees know you will be asking for their feedback Send out your surveys within a week of the event ending Use incentives such as a money-can't-buy prize specific to your event Create clear subject lines and call to actions Send out two reminder emails How to use your survey feedback to improve your event Post-event surveys are a powerful tool to measure attendee experience. In this 25-minute webinar our Content Marketing Lead, Natalie Campbell-Reid, shares how event organisers can use their survey data to improve their event strategy. Watch it here.
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Event feedback experts, Explori, began measuring visitor and exhibitor sentiment towards virtual events from March 2020. Their latest examination reveals two things: attendee sentiment is increasing, and despite low exhibitor sentiment there is a notable minority who are having a positive experience. The company’s initial benchmarks demonstrated that attendee sentiment towards virtual events was positive. Attendees scored virtual events better across key metrics such as Value for Time and Net Promoter Score. However, as Overall Satisfaction scores were in line with the live events benchmark, this suggests NPS may be higher because it requires less effort for the recipient to interact with a virtual event. A year on, the benchmarks show attendee sentiment for virtual events is increasing. This is led by increased virtual trade show scores. Attendees are scoring virtual trade shows even higher for satisfaction and their likelihood to recommend compared to the 2020 benchmarks. Though content-led events typically perform better in the digital landscape, digital trade shows appear to be catching up. However, initial exhibitor benchmarks revealed that exhibitor sentiment was not so positive. Exhibitors scored digital events lower than their live event counterparts for Overall Satisfaction and Return on Investment. A year later and exhibitor sentiment is still low. Interestingly, when Explori’s researchers dug into the data some unexpected insights emerged. Explori examined the relationship between loyalty and satisfaction for exhibitors. The loyalty-satisfaction chart can be separated into four quadrants: Apostles, Mercenaries, Hostages, and Disaffected. Apostles - high loyalty and high satisfaction. They enjoy virtual events and will exhibit again. Mercenaries - high satisfaction and low loyalty. Their low loyalty is usually for reasons outside of an organisers control (.i.e. the event isn’t important to their company). Hostages - low satisfaction and high loyalty. This can sometimes represent a lack of competition in the space. Exhibitors aren’t happy with the virtual event but it is their only option. Disaffected - low satisfaction and low loyalty. These exhibitors are not satisfied with the virtual events and do not plan to exhibit virtually in the future. Explori found that 41% of exhibitors fell into the Disaffected quadrant. These exhibitors have low levels of satisfaction and are less likely to exhibit at virtual events again in the future. However, one-third of exhibitors fell into the Apostle quadrant. These exhibitors are highly satisfied with virtual events and plan to exhibit at more virtual events in the future. Overall low exhibitor sentiment scores appear to mask a notable minority of exhibitors who are having a positive experience with virtual events. To find out more about the virtual benchmarks and Explori services click here.
What do you want to know about your exhibitors and sponsors? Typically, event organisers want to understand how satisfied they were with the event, if they will exhibit or sponsor in the future, and what would make the event unmissable? For the last decade, Explori has been helping organisers use surveys to gather post-event feedback to develop more customer-centred event portfolios. We benchmark attendee experience for over 3,000 events globally and hold over 3 million data points on attendee and exhibitor sentiment. We are a trusted research partner for the Global Association for the Exhibition Industry (UFI), supplying annual reports to organisers. Our expertise lies in creating surveys that provide strategic insights to event teams. In this post, we will share with you our ultimate list of post-event sponsor and exhibitor survey questions. 12 key questions to ask exhibitors and sponsors in your post-event survey Which of the following were objectives for your company at [eventname]? Please state how well you met each of your objectives for exhibiting/sponsoring. Overall, how well did you meet your objectives for exhibiting/sponsoring at the event? How satisfied were you with the following aspects of the event? What was the total value of the orders/purchases/contracts received by your company at the event? INCLUDING sales you have already made, what is the total value of the sales you expect to generate over the next 12 months as a result of exhibiting at/sponsoring the event this year? Considering the total sum of business you expect to generate as a result of exhibiting at [eventname] this year, how would you rate your overall return on investment? Overall, how satisfied were you with [eventname] this year? How likely are you to exhibit/sponsor [eventname] next year? How likely are you to recommend [eventname] to a friend or colleague in the industry? Please tell us why you gave that score? i.e. recommending the event to a friend or colleague How would you improve [eventname]? Examining Customer Objectives 1. Which of the following were objectives for your company at [eventname]? The most common objectives for exhibitors and sponsors are to generate new sales leads, increase awareness for their product/service and/or increase their brand position. Monitoring what objectives your exhibitors are trying to achieve through your event can be useful information when designing your event. 2. Please state how well you met each of your objectives for exhibiting/sponsoring. Allow exhibitors and sponsors to state how well they were able to meet each of the objectives they selected. This will give you an indication of what objectives you’re helping them achieve versus the objectives that are going unmet. 3. Overall, how well did you meet your objectives for exhibiting/sponsoring at the event? Not all objectives are created equal. This is why getting an overall score is important. Earlier in the survey exhibitors and sponsors may select five different objectives and only score one as being well met. But that one could have represented their main objective for attending the event whilst the others were ‘nice to haves’. This question will give you an overall view of how successful your event is at helping attendees achieve their objectives. Alternatively, with a survey tool like Explori, this can be calculated automatically based on the previous question responses. Identifying highlights and pain points 4. How satisfied were you with the following aspects of the event? With this question, you can gauge your customer’s satisfaction with different aspects of your event. In particular, options we think are useful to include are: Quality of visitors Quantity of visitors Quality of sessions Networking Assessing the value of your event 5. What was the total value of the orders/purchases/contracts received by your company at the event? Where relevant include this question to encourage exhibitors to consider the monetary value of participating in your event. This can also serve as a marketing metric to use in the promotion of your next event. 6. INCLUDING sales you have already made, what is the total value of the sales you expect to generate over the next 12 months as a result of exhibiting/sponsoring the event this year? There are some events where exhibitors and sponsors do not complete transactions on their stand. In this instance, it can be helpful to understand how they expect their participation in the event to convert into sales over the next 12 months. Measuring ROI and Importance 7. Considering the total sum of business you expect to generate as a result of exhibiting at [eventname] this year, how would you rate your overall return on investment? Return on Investment is one of the most important metrics to track for your event. Our global research shows that an unclear return on investment is the biggest driver of exhibitor dissatisfaction. Difficulty demonstrating ROI is the most frequently given reason for low advocacy scores. This question is a great temperature check to identify what proportion of your audience is struggling with the return so that you can intervene with relevant training and educational materials ahead of your next event. Evaluating overall exhibitor and sponsor sentiment 8. Overall, how satisfied were you with [eventname] this year? This question allows you to directly measure customer satisfaction and get a more bird’s eye view of how the event went overall. Use it to discover which exhibitor/sponsor types are most satisfied. This is a great way to gauge the success of your event. 9. How likely are you to exhibit/sponsor [eventname] next year? Ask exhibitors and sponsors this question to predict the environment your team will be selling into. Are your customers saying they are unlikely to return and are therefore disengaged? This will mean the team will have to work harder to get new customers through the door. However, if there is a larger proportion who are planning to return the following year this can be a good signal of engagement. Your team probably won’t have to work as hard to get them through the door. 10. How likely are you to recommend [eventname] to a friend or colleague in the industry? Net Promoter Score is an industry standard when it comes to measuring attendee experience. It allows you to measure your attendees’ likelihood to recommend your event and can be included in your post-event surveys for both virtual and live events. Respondents rate their likelihood to recommend on a scale of 0-10 and are banded into groups based on their scores. Promoters (9-10 rating) Passives (7-8 rating) Detractors (0-6 rating) The Net Promoter Score is then calculated by subtracting your percentage of Detractors from your percentage of Promoters. Organisers often ask what is a good Net Promoter Score. Technically speaking anything above zero means you have more Promoters than Detractors and is therefore a good score. The Explori platform benchmarks NPS for live and virtual events globally. This allows clients to compare the performance of their events against the industry standard and get a real sense of how their events compare to the industry benchmark. 11. Please tell us why you gave that score? i.e. recommending the event to a friend or colleague Open questions are a great way to collect qualitative data that can be used to explain scores. We always suggest adding an NPS reasoning question. It allows you to do some meaningful analysis of your detractors and promoters. For example, in the Explori platform clients can filter by NPS to see all the responses given by detractors or promoters. Filtering in this way can give you a sense for why some attendees are detracting and why some are promoting. 12. How would you improve [eventname]? Including a question about improvements is an easy way to spot what aspects of your event haven’t landed well with attendees. Depending on the tool you use, you can filter based on satisfaction or NPS to see what improvements are suggested by attendees. Survey your exhibitors and sponsors with Explori With an event feedback platform like Explori all of the above questions are templated to save you time creating your survey. The Explori platform collates responses and presents them using responsive dashboards. Your event dashboard shows you your Overall Event Score as well as KPIs including Net Promoter Score, Overall Satisfaction, Loyalty, and more. With the click of a button, you can compare the metrics for your event with industry benchmarks as well as your own company benchmarks. Click here to find out how we can help you measure the success of your events. Further reading Post-event survey email template How to increase email survey response rates Post-event survey questions for attendees
How can event organisers monetize their virtual events? Evolve 2.0 hosted our Manging Director, Sophie Holt as an expert speaker to share the latest data-driven insights on how organisers can monetize their virtual events. Learn more in the video below. Sophie shares that in order to have a conversation about monetization organisers must first assess the value their virtual events are providing to attendees. There are three ways to maximise the value driven by virtual events: 1. Data In the above video, Sophie shares that organisers have access to a wealth of valuable data. This isn't solely limited to interactions that have taken place on the platform (i.e. connections, meetings, sessions attended etc). Organisers can also observe how attendees interact and journey through your content. This will help you understand what they are looking for and build some assumptions about what their challenges are. Collating this can provide the necessary context to pair attendees with relevant sponsors/exhibitors who can solve their problem. 2. Responsiveness Unlike face-to-face events, virtual events can be organised within a few weeks. The agility of this event format allows organisers to be responsive to what is happening in their communities. 3. Niche content From the exhibitor feedback we have gathered exhibitors are saying virtual events are good for generating lots of leads. This suggests exhibitors are benefiting from the increased reach of a virtual audience. However, they are struggling to get these leads to the qualification stage as they would at a face-to-face event. For organisers, this presents an opportunity to create hyper niche events/experiences within a larger virtual event that are targeted to your exhibitors' objectives. Click here to watch the full session and access all of the content from Evolve 2.0
How do you know if your event is a success? Better yet, how do you know if your attendees will be back next year? The explosion in event technology means organisers have more data than ever about how attendees are engaging with events. From the number of meetings booked to sessions attended and questions asked. However, this data isn’t capable of telling you why. Why are attendees engaging, and will they come back to your next event? This is where surveys come into play. For the last decade, Explori have been helping organisers use surveys to gather post-event feedback to develop more customer-centred event portfolios. We benchmark attendee experience for over 3,000 events globally, and analyse over 3 million data points on attendee and exhibitor sentiment. We are a trusted research partner for the Global Association for the Exhibition Industry (UFI) supplying annual reports to organisers. Our expertise lies in creating surveys that provide strategic insights to event teams. In this post we will share with you our definitive list of post-event survey questions. We will give you nine questions you can use in a live or virtual event survey and two bonus questions to include in your virtual event survey. What is a post-event survey? A post-event survey is a questionnaire. It is normally distributed via email to visitors, exhibitors, speakers, people who registered but did not attend, and any other participants. The survey normally consists of a combination of multiple/single choice and open-ended questions. The purpose of sending a post-event feedback survey is to understand the event through the eyes of attendees. Post-event surveys are crucial to any organiser interested in adopting a more customer-centred approach to their events. Types of survey questions There are different types of questions you can include in your post-event survey depending on the type of data you want to collect: Rating scales - measures the level of agreement with a question that can be quantified for reporting. It’s best to use a 5-point scale to avoid skewing survey responses. Multiple choice - useful when there are a few different options that could apply ie. when asking attendees about their reasons for attending your event. Open-ended - brings the attendee experience to life. It produces qualitative data which tends to be more emotive and specific at outlining sentiment. Screening questions At the beginning of your event survey it is important to include screening questions to ensure the integrity of the data you are collecting. When creating client surveys the first question we ask is ‘Did you attend [eventname] from [eventdates]?’ If the respondent says no they are routed to an exit screen. We then include a second screening question which asks ‘Did you attend as…’ and provide a single choice option of either Visitor, Exhibitor or Member of the press. If the respondent is not the intended recipient of the survey (i.e. an exhibitor receives the visitor survey) they will be rerouted to an exit page with a link to the relevant survey for their group. By including screening questions you can ensure your survey is being completed by the right members of your audience. General Survey Questions Use these questions in both your live and virtual post-event surveys for attendees 1. Overall how satisfied are you with [eventname]? This question allows you to directly measure attendee satisfaction and get a more bird’s eye view of how the event went overall. This is a great way to gauge the success of your event. You can also use it to unpick which aspects of your event are driving satisfaction by creating crosstabs with other questions in your survey. 2. What were your main reasons for attending [eventname]? In other words, what is your event helping attendees do? Our studies show that the top five objectives of trade show visitors are: attending the conference, attending seminar sessions, seeing new products and innovations, keeping up to date with market trends and seeking new business partners. When using this multiple-choice question include a list of common objectives and allow respondents to select more than one. 3. Please state how well you met each of your objectives at [eventname]? Allow respondents to state how well they were able to meet each of the objectives they selected at your event. This will give you an indication of what objectives you’re helping attendees achieve versus the objectives that are going unmet. For example, across the 3,000+ shows we have benchmarked, we found there are three common attendee objectives that are poorly met at trade shows: Keeping up to date with market trends Seeking new business opportunities Seeing new products and innovations Most importantly we discovered these three objectives are highly correlated with overall satisfaction. This suggests that if you improve the ability for attendees to achieve these objectives you will see an increase in attendee satisfaction. 4. Overall, how well did you meet your objectives? Not all objectives are created equal. This is why getting an overall score is important. Earlier in the survey attendees may select five different objectives and only score one as being well met. But that one could have represented their main objective for attending the event whilst the others were ‘nice to haves’. This question will give you an overall view on how successful your event is at helping attendees achieve their objectives. Alternatively with a tool like Explori, this can be calculated automatically based on the previous question responses. 5. How likely are you to recommend our event to friends or colleagues in the industry? Net Promoter Score is an industry standard when it comes to measuring attendee experience. This allows you to measure your attendees’ likelihood to recommend your event and can be included in your post-event surveys for both virtual and live events. Respondents rate their likelihood to recommend on a scale of 0-10 and are banded into groups based on their scores. Promoters (9-10 rating) Passives (7-8 rating) Detractors (0-6 rating) The Net Promoter Score is then calculated by subtracting your percentage of Detractors from your percentage of Promoters. Organisers often ask what is a good Net Promoter Score. Technically speaking anything above zero suggests you have more Promoters than Detractors and is therefore a good score. The Explori platform benchmarks NPS for live and virtual events globally. This allows clients to compare the performance of their events against the industry standard and get a real sense of how their events compare to the industry benchmark. 6. Please tell us why you gave that score? i.e. recommending the event to a friend or colleague Open questions are a great way to collect qualitative data that can be used to explain scores. We always suggest adding an NPS reasoning question. It allows you to do some meaningful analysis of your detractors and promoters. For example, in the Explori platform clients can filter by NPS score to see all the responses given by detractors or promoters. Filtering in this way can give you a sense for why some attendees are detracting and why some are promoting. 7. Considering the total investment of your time spent, how would you rate the value you received? As event organisers we are in the business of creating value for our attendees. Asking a question about their perceived value of the event is a great way to measure the usefulness of the event relative to the time cost. Our latest research found that attendees score virtual events as being better value for time than live events. Including this question in your post-event survey will allow you to spot commonalities between attendees who rate virtual as better for time and those who do not. 8. What was your favourite aspect of [eventname]? The main aim of gathering feedback is to understand how to improve your event. However it is important to keep an eye on what is going well to make sure you don’t eliminate those aspects from future events (ie. a networking format that attendees enjoy). This open-ended question can provide some useful information about what is working at your event. You may also be able to use these responses as testimonials if you ask respondents to opt in. 9. Do you have any suggestions on how the event could be improved? Including a question about improvements is an easy way to spot what aspects of your event haven’t landed well with attendees. Depending on the tool you use, you can filter based on satisfaction or NPS to see what improvements are suggested by attendees. Virtual event survey questions For use in your virtual post-event surveys for attendees 10. How likely would you be to attend future virtual events from the organisers of [eventname]? This question provides a double benefit. On one hand it can communicate a level of satisfaction with the virtual event you organised, but it can also indicate whether or not your attendees are likely to attend future events. This is particularly important as you might be assessing what role virtual events will play once we return to organising live events. 11. Overall, how would you rate the delivery of the virtual event? Whilst you might still be finessing exactly how to deliver virtual events this could be a great question to add into your post-event survey. Pair it with an open-ended follow up question where respondents can explain why they have given it that rating. Final point To create strategic events that keep its customers at the centre organisers need to collect consistent feedback. Post-event surveys are the only tools built to give organisers an insight into their attendees and exhibitors. If you would like to start measuring your events take a tour of the Explori platform.
We recently conducted a study on behalf of ICE, the International Corporate Event Planners association. Two-thirds of respondents said a top challenge for them over the next three years is using metrics to effectively measure performance. However, despite these perceived challenges the research found that organisers are less likely to measure the performance of their virtual events compared to their live events. Respondents agree that measuring metrics such as the impact of the event on future behaviour, sales, and brand awareness is just as useful for virtual events as it is for live. However, 23% fewer organisers are measuring customer feedback for virtual events relative to in-person events. This suggests that organisers are missing out on a golden opportunity. There are three different types of data available to organisers to measure how their events are performing. Access to those three types of data is made even easier through virtual event platforms. But not all of them can tell you about the output of your event. What are these different data types and what role do they play in helping organisers understand the impact of their virtual events? I like to think of them as building a car... 1. Demographic data - Who are your attendees? The body of your car is your demographic data normally collected via your registration form. In ICEINSIGHTS’ report 2020, we found that over 90% of event organisers think registration data is useful for virtual events, however only 3 in 4 were measuring attendance for their virtual events. Demographic data takes your feedback from being a tangled mess to clear lines of activity. Person A did X. Person B did Z. In order to gather individualised feedback from other tools like your event app or matchmaking technology the registration data needs to be available. For your employee events which don’t require a registration tool, this information could be collected from your HR system. 2. Engagement data - What are your attendees doing and when? Engagement data provides the wheels for your car. Your engagement data builds a profile of what your attendee did at your event including: which sessions they attended, who they organised meetings with, poll responses, Q&A data and more. At an in-person event this is typically the data that is hard to come by. It requires investment in tracking technology to understand how attendees have moved around the venue and dwell time. For virtual events this data is usually built into the platform. Event organisers can see how traffic flows from one session or activity to another to establish patterns and unlock what engagement really means for their events. 3. Sentiment data - Why did your attendees engage and what do they intend to do next? So you’ve got the body of the car and the wheels, but a car without an engine isn’t much use to anyone. This is where your sentiment data comes in. Sentiment data is collected through feedback surveys and plays a crucial role in driving the event strategy forward. Survey data allows you to demonstrate the power of your events relating to impact on brand awareness, future sales and behaviour. Before I go any deeper on this let’s address the elephant in the room. I can bet you, like me, don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘You know what I’d love to do today? A survey.’ We’d probably love to play with some AI-driven matchmaking apps, facial recognition software and see cool traffic session patterns. But surveys? Blurgh. That’s fine I’m not going to try and sell you on why surveys are the most exciting technology. However, maybe you’ll share in my understanding that they are the only event tech available which makes sense of; why your attendees took time out of their busy schedules to take part, what they got out of it, and why events matter to the business you work in. That being said a survey is only as insightful as the questions you put in it. You can use surveys to quantify attendees intention to purchase, intention to re-engage with the brand or likelihood of recommending your product or service to a colleague or friend. The most useful surveys build questions off the back of key event impact objectives for their virtual events. By asking these questions consistently across your events you’re able to establish a measurement language for the events function. You can compare events internally to see what good really looks like for your events. And if you’re using a tool like Explori you can benchmark your events against your industry. Thanks to technological improvements, feedback surveys have become less time-consuming to collate and analyse. You can easily make cycle-to-cycle comparisons for repeat events. The best survey technology will have built in benchmarking capabilities so you can easily compare how your virtual events today compare to hybrid events in years to come. If you would like to measure and benchmark your virtual events contact our team of experts who will be happy to help, or download the Event Impact Playbook for a do-it-yourself guide.
Some organisers are experiencing lower response rates for their virtual event feedback surveys compared to live events. When conducted properly, event surveys can provide a wealth of information about what to keep and what to drop at your next event. They can also provide useful insight on future revenue generating opportunities and how you can add value for your attendees. As event survey and research specialists, we have some tried and true tips for banishing survey blues. Here are our top five: 1. Market your surveys Too often surveys are the last thing mentioned in the last session of the day or as attendees are leaving the event. To increase responses make sure your attendees know it's important. You need to convince attendees that it is worth them spending the 5-10 minutes sharing their feedback with you. Simple ways to market your survey: mention the survey on holding slides that play throughout the event, mention the survey at the end of your content sessions in your pre-event marketing campaign highlight some of the changes/improvements you've made as a result of survey feedback. At the end of this post we have provided three free resources you can use to promote your surveys for your next virtual event. 2. Send out your surveys soon after the event In our 10 years working with clients to improve their feedback processes, we’ve found the most useful responses are delivered post event when attendees and/or exhibitors have had time to reflect on how the event was for them. That being said, you still need to strike while the iron is hot. I suggest you send out your post event survey within a week of your event. If you can send it out sooner then do! The week buffer gives you a chance to add in any last minute questions that may have popped into your mind during the event. Some advocate waiting 2-4 weeks to get exhibitor feedback. This would allow time for the blisters to heal, the hangovers to fade and importantly, for leads gathered at the event to be developed. However, our data shows that the further away from your event you try to collect feedback the more you will cannibalise your response rate. Consider highlighting in the email how long the survey will take to complete. On average respondents complete three questions per minute so you can use this to workout the length of your survey. Your attendees and exhibitors are not going to be happy if you say it will only take 10 minutes and 30 minutes later they still haven’t reached the end. With a well-designed, well-timed survey you can achieve a 20-30% response rate. 3. Bribe them! I mean incentivise them In April, I found myself sat at a table with a gentlemen who asked me, “Why don’t more event organisers offer incentives to fill out a survey? Maybe then I’d actually do it!” It seems he wasn’t wrong. One of our clients organised for all their headline speakers to sign copies of their latest books and offered the set as a prize. In return they achieved a 40% response rate! Decide whether or not you will give a high value reward to a small volume of people, or if you will give a low value incentive to a larger volume of people. Caution - beware of ubiquitous tech prizes that quickly lose their shine. It is sometimes better to give something specific to your event that will really fire up your attendees. Try to conspire with your exhibitors or speakers to offer a money-can’t-buy prize or experience, as demonstrated with the example above. 4. Create clear subject lines and calls to action As most surveys are delivered via email it is important to follow email best practice to maximise your event survey response rate. Make sure your subject line is clear and obvious. Create clear and concise copy which explains the benefits of taking part in the survey Include one clear call to action. Use the post-event survey email template as a guide. 5. Send out reminders A simple and effective way to increase your response rates is by asking your attendees for their feedback more than once. We recommend sending out reminders 3-5 days after the initial launch, followed by a final reminder 3-5 days later. Don't send your reminder emails on the same day of the week or time. It's best to try different dates and times to reach as many attendees as possible. Download these free resources to promote your surveys Video for holding slides Email/Website banner 1 Email/Website banner 2
Having just released the full Global Recovery Insights report, produced in partnership with UFI and supported by SISO, project lead, Sophie Holt, takes us through the key findings of the priorities of our visitors and exhibitors as live events start to return. When we embarked on this project, as lockdown commenced this spring, I was apprehensive as to what we would find. At the end of 2019 we had produced the Global Exhibitor Insights, which made somewhat uncomfortable reading for the industry. It highlighted that some exhibitors were beginning to have concerns about the ROI of live events and question some of the figures that organisers were publishing. Add to that, the biggest disruption that many of us have ever experienced in our careers and some commentators were suggesting that our industry was on a knife edge, facing a fundamental shift away from live events. It was possible that we were about to produce research that could spell dark times for our industry. But as we analysed the results in late August, it was clear that there was much to be positive about. Not only were live events being sorely missed by both visitors and exhibitors, it seems that they have not found alternative channels that can replace the unique aspects of face-to-face networking. Live events support business generation: Two thirds of those who exhibit at trade shows reported their cancellation has had a notable detrimental impact on their business, reducing their ability to build awareness with their target markets. 50% of companies reported that the absence of live events was negatively affecting their ability to generate new business. And whilst our current visitors and exhibitors strongly prefer live events across every aspect, there were also intriguing hints as to the future of digital and hybrid events, which I will cover in a future article. What does the future look like? Both visitors and exhibitors reported some drop in how frequently they planned to attend live events in future compared to previous studies we have conducted. But when compared with data from 2019, the drop for exhibitors was very modest. This reduction in frequency seems to be part of a more long term trend where exhibitors in markets where the exhibition industry is very developed are planning to level out their participation. The more pronounced impact on visitor attendance is driven by short term concerns, primarily around safety. Visitors who were planning to reduce their attendance need to be reassured that robust safety measures are in place. They are also more drawn to the option of being able to attend an event digitally, for the time being at least. When will spend return? Possibly the most encouraging aspect of the study was exhibitors still feeling confident about the return of their spend for trade shows. 28% of exhibitors said their spend would return to pre-Covid levels as soon as live events were running again. Only 13% felt the drop in spend could be permanent. On average, exhibitor spending could return to pre-Covid levels within 11 months. This held true across widely differing sectors and countries. Whilst as of August, budgets for other marketing channels remained relatively unaffected, unsurprisingly there has been a big impact on spend planned for live events. Both trade show budgets and in-house event budgets have been cut on average by 50% at this time. It will be interesting to see how this survives contact with CFOs as planning for 2021 crystalises. But will these budget cuts manifest themselves in shows being dropped from a trade show marketer’s plans, or an overall belt-tightening? The picture is complex. Whilst we can definitely see that the more severe the budget cut, the more likely an exhibitor is to reduce the number of shows they support, it is also true that, even for companies experiencing the largest cuts to their trade show budgets (in excess of 50%) they are still equally likely to continue to exhibit as frequently as to start dropping shows. What is drawing audiences back to live? This study has confirmed that building connections by networking is a unique aspect of live events, that has yet to be effectively replicated by other channels. Two thirds of both visitors and exhibitors have experienced fewer networking opportunities whilst there have been no live events. This translated into fewer leads generated for businesses (48%) and ultimately lower sales (45%). Digital events are not currently filling this gap, with “quality of networking” being the area they scored most poorly in comparison to live events with only 8% of exhibitors feeling that digital could compete with live. Whilst our audience is supportive of sensible health and safety measures, they are reluctant to accept any measures that impede their ability to network, telling us that any reduction on social and networking activity reduces their likelihood to attend an event. This presents a challenge for organisers and venues alike. How can we offer high quality interaction whilst still following Covid Secure guidelines? And how can we offer an equivalent networking experience to our visitors who currently want to participate virtually? I’m sure many innovative solutions will emerge. Quality vs. quantity? We wanted to know what factors organisers should prioritise to ensure their show was a “must attend”. Here our respondents were unequivocal. They will be evaluating shows based on the quality of the visitors and exhibitors. Whilst visitor quality has always been an important factor for exhibitors, we can now see that it far exceeds the importance of visitor numbers, with 58% of exhibitors thinking it a priority for organisers vs. only 38% who were concerned about numbers. Exhibitors appreciate that visitor numbers may be restricted for a period of time, so they want to ensure that those they do meet are both relevant and purchase-ready. Interestingly, we also see exhibitor quality emerge for the first time as a critical factor driving visitor attendance. Where previously, we might have seen quality of education and content being the biggest factor, with 34% motivated by exhibitor quality vs only 14% motivated by high quality education, this is an interesting shift. Again we can see the unique aspects of live events at play; the ability to meet the most relevant suppliers in one place, being seen as much more important than education, an objective which can potentially be achieved elsewhere. For the first time, cost of attending has also emerged a decision factor for visitors, with 39% citing it as a priority. This in part may be driven by pressure on travel budgets, but it can also be seen in the context of the availability of digital events, which visitors recognise can now provide them with high quality content at the fraction of the cost of attending in person. Future insight plans As the situation is constantly evolving, both in terms of access to live events and uptake of digital events, we asked participating organisers to reserve a portion of their data to allow for a second phase of research beginning December 2020. The first report is now available for UFI members via firstname.lastname@example.org Other verified trade show organisers and venues can request a copy here Sophie Holt, Managing Director, Explori This article first appeared in Exhibition World
So what exactly is a Net Promoter Score (NPS)? Developed by Bain & Company and Satmatrix, Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a way to understand a customer’s perception of your product or service. It’s widely used across many industries and allows different sectors to benchmark themselves against each other – for example event planners could use it to compare their performance to other events, or even to other service sectors like hospitality or banking. It is one of the most important questions we ask our clients to include in every post-event survey they conduct. It leverages advocacy – the likelihood to recommend to a friend or colleague – as a way of understanding many different drivers of perception including satisfaction, ease of customer journey and return on investment in a single question. Respondents, in this case event attendees or sponsors, are asked to rate how likely they are to recommend the event to a friend or colleague in the industry. This graph is an example of how respondents are categorised based on their response as Promoters, Passives or Detractors. Net Promoter Score is then calculated as the difference between the promoters and the detractors and is expressed on a scale from -100 to 100. So an event with a plus score has relatively more promoters than detractors, whilst an event with a negative score has more detractors. So why does this matter? The impact of NPS has been extensively researched across many industries. With a finite number of potential attendees and sponsors in most sectors, when advocacy is low, it will get harder and harder to attract new attendees and sponsors and the existing customers will be increasingly sensitive to any price rise and over time may even withdraw their support. It is an important “leading indicator” as to how your event might perform commercially in the future. Explori has conducted research with events around the world that shows a positive NPS from exhibitors and sponsors means an event is more likely to experience commercial growth in three key areas: Attendee numbers Exhibitor numbers Exhibitor revenue Interestingly events with a positive exhibitor NPS are growing their sponsor and exhibitor revenue faster than their exhibitor numbers, indicating they may also be finding it easier to up-sell their existing customers to new and higher value services. Want to know more about NPS and other aspects of event exhibitor and sponsor experience? You can download our full report here, covering the experience of exhibitors all round the world. NPS for virtual vs live events At Explori, we have been benchmarking attendee experience metrics including NPS for virtual events since March 2020 and the results are clear. Advocacy is higher for virtual events than for live events. The data indicates that attendees are more likely to recommend virtual events to their colleagues and friends. But we have to ask why that is? Are virtual events delivering a better experience than face-to-face events? It is highly likely that the reason virtual events are seeing a boost in their recommendations relative to live events is because of ease of access. There is much less heavy lifting involved with making a virtual recommendation. If you’re recommending an event halfway across the world that would require flying to another country, booking accommodation and taking time away from family and friends, you’ll probably want to make sure that is a must-attend event before making that recommendation. However if you are sending a colleague or friend a link that they can access from their computer in the comfort of their home it doesn’t require as much consideration past the point of the event providing good content. And this is just the tip of the iceberg with what we have been seeing in the data regarding virtual events experience. >>> Download our latest research on virtual events How to improve your event Net Promoter Score In some circles NPS is viewed as the holy grail of measuring attendee experience. Oftentimes it is the single metric monitored by event organisers to understand if their event is doing well. Though NPS is an important metric to measure, it is often better understood in the context of other key metrics, such as Overall Satisfaction. Overall satisfaction is highly correlated with NPS. If you measure attendee objectives and Overall Satisfaction in your post-event survey you can run a correlation analysis to discover which objectives are driving satisfaction at your event. By focusing attention on how to improve your satisfaction score you should see higher Net Promoter Scores for your events.
Whilst more and more event planners are turning to online surveys to gauge customer feedback, some still have concerns about the validity of the data if they are planning to use it to inform their event strategy - are they right? New clients sometimes ask us if people are only motivated to fill in online surveys if they’ve got something really good or really bad to say, missing the views of the “average” attendee. So what does the data say? Using a sample of 146,000 attendees who completed post-show surveys, from the database of over two and a half a million survey responses collected by Explori in the last 12 months, we examined the response to the question: how likely are you to recommend the event to a colleague / friend, to find the Net Promoter Scores (NPS). NPS response is divided into three categories: Those who give scores of 0-6 out of 10 are classed as detractors Scores of 7-8 are passives or neutral Scores of 9-10 are promoters In our sample, 11% fell in the detractor camp, 42% in the promoter band and 47% in the neutral or passive band. So there was certainly a large group of people with middle ground views who had chosen to give feedback. With almost a third of respondents sitting happily in the neutral camp, (with scores of 7 and 8) and another 15% “a little underwhelmed” with scores of 5 or 6, this group is more sizeable than both the “lovers” or the “haters”. When it comes to post-show online surveys, “Average Jo” is quite happy to give her opinion. Online surveys vs face-to-face But we also see more of a spread to the extremes of the scale, including 3.5% rating the show they attended as 0 or 1 out of 10. It is this group that can sometimes be under-represented in face-to-face surveys conducted during the event. By collecting your feedback online after the event, you have given your attendees the fullest possible time to form their opinion of the event. In this respect it could be argued that there is more validity to their response than one taken part-way through the experience. Think about the very direct feedback you get from your attendees (whether they will attend next year). Do you find their responses are more neutral (don’t know whether they will or not) at the beginning of the event and more polarised (they definitely will not) towards the end or shortly after the event? Which do you feel most represents their “true” opinion? Social nicety also comes into play. Many people temper their opinions when they are talking to a real person – an unconscious attempt to protect the feelings of the interviewer, or to appear a better person before them. This can particularly impact responses to questions around income, job seniority and attitude towards professional development, where some answers are perceived to be more socially desirable than others. It also buffers the results against very low NPS scores. In results published by a UK research agency*, it appeared not a single respondent had given a score of 0 when surveyed face-to-face. You could address the “nice-factor” by placing self-serve terminals at your event in an area you are confident will attract the full spectrum of your attendees, but the cost of build and loss of prime space can make this unappealing. So should you be concerned if there is a variance between the data you get online and the data you would get face to face? Well not if you compare apples with apples; if you consistently collect your data in the same way, you are not going to run into problems when you compare year-on-year. You should also look for data that has been collected in the same way if you are want to benchmark externally. You know your audience – are there any groups through demographic, or line of work not accessible through email? Or are you are looking for the views of a vital subsection of your audience? Then consider combining online and offline research to help you meet your objectives. Agencies with experience of both, or online platforms with offline partners, will be able to deliver both and work the data to give meaningful comparisons. So in conclusion, online surveys are cost effective and getting increasingly sophisticated at capturing the full opinion spectrum from lovers to haters and everyone in between. Their big sample sizes lend themselves to detailed analysis and comparisons of the experience of segments of your visitors and they eliminate the “human” bias. But you may well find you get differing responses between any research conducted at the show and online after the show. It would be limiting to see either as being the “true” opinions of your delegates – they both need to be treated in context when you are drawing conclusions and compared against appropriate benchmarks to help you turn your data into something meaningful to your event strategy. Find out more about how you can incorporate attendee feedback into your event strategy.
In order to measure the success of your event you need to know what success looks like for you. For your team. For your organisation. This begins with establishing clear and measurable objectives. For example, imagine you are organising a prospecting event for a SaaS business. You have 300 people attending who have demonstrated interest in the product your company offers. What would you set your objectives as? The temptation might be to accept the event objective as increasing sales. However, for most B2B businesses the sales cycles are often long with many different touchpoints in between. The most meaningful objectives for event teams are ones that can be measured a few days after the event. These demonstrate the true value of the channel and are the most useful for ensuring your events meet the needs of attendees and stakeholders alike. So if not 'increase sales' what objectives should you consider setting instead? Events are often part of a wider campaign of activities. In this case there might be a number of things happening including sales training, online demos, outbound marketing and more that are impacting sales revenue. Metrics that events teams can measure is an attendee's intention following their presence at an event. How has the event shifted their intention to act following an event. This is where the Explori event impact tree comes into play. There are four parts to the Explori impact tree that helps organisers set measurable objectives that link back to their company objectives. Company goal This is the fruit of your tree. You wouldn't plant an apple tree and expect to grow oranges. Equally you wouldn't organise an event to contribute to increased sales if the aim was to impact on staff retention. Start with the end in mind and build all your metrics out from this point. Cognitive goal What do you want your attendees to know when they leave your event? This will differ if you are thinking about your trade show booth vs an internal training event. This helps you laser focus on what you are teaching your attendees. It might be about updating the sales team on a new product or feature or increasing your prospect's understanding of what problem your product/service solves. Sentiment goal How do you want your attendees to feel after your event? Sentiment objectives are where we begin to get into measuring brand affinity. This is a fantastic opportunity to understand how events are used to communicate brand values to attendees. i.e. how many attendees believe your company is a leader in eco-technology? Behavioural goal What do your attendees intend to do after the event? This is critical. As described at the beginning of this post often the success of an event hangs on the number of sales, subscriptions or partnerships that have resulted. This is often a flawed approach as there are several touch points involved which aren't within the control of an events lead. Setting a behavioural objective such as intention to remain an employee of your company or intention to participate in a follow up meeting are a better indicator of the usefulness of the events channel. Establishing the correct objectives for your event is the first step to successfully measure your events. And the great thing about this structure is it can be easily incorporated into your humble survey. By requesting quantifiable feedback from your events you'll be able to build powerful insights which highlight the value of the events channel to your company's core objectives. Take your learning further by downloading the Event Impact Playbook.