Made to Measure is Explori’s new live series that delivers a hit of digestible event insight directly into your ears once a month. Hosted by the Explori team members, who among them have over 40+ years of event experience, Made to Measure tackles some of the most common questions we receive from our clients and event professionals. It’s all part of our continued goal to serve the events industry. With two episodes under our belt, a round-up of the conversations so far was in order. What have I missed? Event surveys are important tools for gathering feedback essential for the success of future events, but not knowing the facts about surveys and how to execute them can backfire. The first episode in the Made to Measure podcast series, hosted by Chloe Richardson and Alex Temple, reveals some common myths about surveys and how best to get the important feedback you need. The second episode, hosted by Alex Temple and Richard Kensett, looks at the Net Promoter Score (NPS), an important metric used to measure events, and what makes it a useful but potentially dangerous tool. Survey Myths People don’t complete surveys. If people didn’t complete them, they wouldn’t be such a robust tool and common research methodology. Only the lovers and haters complete surveys. Research shows that in the case of post-show online surveys, the majority of responses actually come from those who have neither strong positive nor negative reactions. In-person feedback is better than online survey feedback. For many reasons, this is not true, including the fact that people will often temper their opinions when speaking to a live interviewer and that it’s best to get feedback from people not during but after they have experienced an entire event. Survey data isn’t useful. If the methodology is done properly, the data can give in-depth insights on how the audience experienced the event and enable you to create a framework to benchmark your company’s event program. Survey Best Practices Market the survey and let people know why their feedback matters Put the survey out not immediately after but within a week of the event Encourage survey participation with a gift card or other incentive that makes sense for the particular audience Follow e-mail best practices, including a clear subject line Send out reminders, as sometimes people need an extra nudge What is NPS? The Net Promoter Score was developed two decades ago as a way to measure customer loyalty and the likelihood that customers will advocate the use of a product to others. For events, NPS offers valuable insight into customer sentiment and whether the show is poised for growth or decline. It can tell you if your event team is swimming with or against the tide. However, there are pitfalls to be aware of. Although NPS surveys are easy to conduct and are great tools for benchmarking, there can be problems when businesses don’t understand NPS limitations or how to put the scores in context. These two episodes will show how to get the most out of surveys and effectively use and interpret NPS to ensure successful events. Catch up now available here Don't miss episode three
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The effect of the pandemic on the events industry has been well-charted; you would be forgiven for thinking you knew the whole story. Explori has access to event feedback data collected from attendees and exhibitors at 4,000 trade shows in 50 countries, a dataset that is representative of 200 million trade show experiences. This data tells the story of thousands of individual events, but at an aggregate level it also provides an unparalleled view of just how the pandemic has shaped the industry – for better and for worse. All of Explori’s post-event surveys collect attendee and exhibitor data to create key benchmarking metrics. These benchmarks allow event teams to compare individual events against industry standards, and to track the progress of their own events over time. So what can these metrics reveal about how the industry has changed – and how should this knowledge inform event strategy? Post-pandemic, NPS is on the up One of Explori’s key benchmarks is the event’s Net Promoter Score, or NPS score, which measures how likely a participant in a particular trade show is to recommend the event to a friend or colleague. In previous years, the average NPS score for trade shows remained relatively static, moving by a few points at most year-on-year. From 2021, however, when events began to take place in person once again, the NPS average shot up by almost 20 points. Good news? It’s not quite so simple… The complicated role of event importance When a previously stable datapoint changes dramatically, it’s a clear sign that something is happening behind the scenes. After years of pandemic-induced disruption, professionals in every industry looked forward to the return of business-as-usual trade shows. Some events began to return, tentatively, to in-person formats. The importance of these events – another of Explori’s benchmarks – was increased by the scarcity of the last few years, with each event representing a rare opportunity to connect with colleagues in-person. We all want our events to be thought of as important – right? Well – yes. But the importance isn’t always a dependable metric. A show might be rated as important by attendees one year because its only competitor was cancelled, or because – hypothetically – it’s the first time the show is going ahead after, say, an unprecedented global pandemic shut down in-person events for two years. That benefits the show in that particular year – but what about the year after, or the year after that? Analysis by Explori found evidence of an ‘importance bump’, meaning that enhanced importance scores can inflate the NPS of events with lower satisfaction scores, another Explori benchmark. Events with high importance scores and low satisfaction scores tend to pull in ‘hostage’ attendees, who are there in the absence of a better option – leaving the event vulnerable to disruption. The reality is that NPS scores should not be considered in isolation – we need to be looking at what’s going on under the hood. Higher NPS scores may be indicative of a post-pandemic bubble, rather than telling us that events are back and better than ever. In fact, a closer look at the data tells us that attendee and exhibitor needs have changed significantly in this new era. Redefining success: Quality over quantity What do you imagine when you picture a successful trade show? Walkways thronged with people; a rising swell of conversation; meetings at stands, in lounges, over lunches. Understandably, many of us equate high attendance with success. And yet Explori’s data suggests that there is no correlation between the number of visitors and exhibitor satisfaction scores. Four in five exhibitors say that visitor quality has a strong influence on their decision to exhibit at a given show, compared to three in five who say the same for visitor quantity. Creating a positive exhibitor experience is clearly integral to the success of a show, and Explori’s analysis has found that higher exhibitor NPS scores lead to higher spend. So what else are exhibitors looking for? Post-pandemic, exhibitors are more likely to give an event a high NPS score if they feel they were able to meet with existing customers and launch new products into the market. Conversely, generating new sales leads and taking orders were less likely to correlate with high NPS scores, indicating that sales-based objectives have taken a backseat. Attendees, too, are keen to meet disruptive exhibitors bringing new products into the market. Post-pandemic, successfully discovering innovative products and solutions is the biggest driver of attendee satisfaction. What does this mean for event organizers? Exhibitor satisfaction is crucial. Trade show organizers should work closely with their exhibitors to understand their objectives and take the time to train them so they can work at their best. Organizers should shift their focus, prioritising quality of attendees and exhibitors over quantity. Armed with the data, event organizers should feel bold enough to attract fewer, higher-quality visitors. The exhibitor mix is also incredibly important. Attendees report higher satisfaction when they attend trade shows that introduce them to new, market-disrupting suppliers and products. The most nimble, disruptive exhibitors tend to be smaller, newer organizations, with smaller marketing budgets. Alternative pricing models that moved away from a strict price-per-square-metre format could make it much more attractive for these organizations to exhibit.
Originally created for Association Meetings International read the full article here One of the ongoing challenges facing many event professionals operating within associations, networks and membership organizations is the ability to implement change. This is particularly an issue when looking to modify a significant element of the event such as the format in which it’s delivered, location or frequency. Many businesses collect vast amounts of data post event but fail to put the results to use. In a recent podcast, the vice president of Meta, Nicola Mendelsohn, spoke to the challenge of change: “I’m open to change my mind if I see evidence and data. There’s a poster on the [office] wall ‘Data Wins Arguments’. I like that because I think it’s true. Data allows you to really look at something and know if something isn’t going well to stop it.” Effecting change can be difficult, with time, resources and inclination being three of the prevalent blockers. At Explori, we believe framing the data and insights garnered from your events in a proactive and productive way can help influence change and overcome many obstacles, particularly amongst your most senior stakeholders. Know your audience Being able to play the data back to your stakeholders in a way that engages them, and more importantly, encourages them to act on the insight, is vital. From the beginning, your event data strategy should speak to the wider organizational goals and objectives and be agreed by all parties. What does success look like for a given event or portfolio of events, and what data points are therefore central to measuring performance against this success criteria? You should also detail how the findings will be communicated back to the different stakeholders involved with the event and how will the findings be acted on. These elements are interlinked – the more apposite the communication of the findings, the more likely they will be acted on. Communication is key You can have the best data strategy and collection process in the world, but if the findings are poorly played back to the event’s stakeholder group, then the effort risks being largely wasted. At the heart of this, the key mantra is that one size absolutely does not fit all. Each of your stakeholders with have different levels of seniority, with different business focusses and insight needs. Some will respond well to granular details whilst others will want headline statistics. Others will enjoy a more visual presentation; others simply want the numbers! A fundament task when mapping out the stakeholders for your data project is to fully understand who your stakeholders are and how they like to be communicated to. For example, it’s unlikely that the C-Suite level stakeholders are going to want to be presented with a 10,000-row spreadsheet with raw data. Whilst those in an operational role, who are perhaps more likely to have a remit to implement day-to-day changes on the back of the data, will find a 'Top 3 takeaways’ summary insufficient. However, both groups will be reassured that the other type of output exists – the C-Suite, that there is a detailed data analysis underpinning the key messages, and for the operational stakeholders, the takeaways provide an initial steer into the data that they can follow-up on with the more granular outputs. Here are some top things to consider when presenting insights: Think about the optimal timing of the playback session. All day is likely to be too long and difficult to keep focus, and from an organizational perspective, very tricky to coordinate calendars and get everyone together. One hour? Likely to be too short. Think about what you want the outcomes to be, then use an estimate of how long you think each section will take to determine the optimal meeting length Be as engaging and interactive as possible. Be clear, visual and pitched at a level that can be understood by the whole group. Try: “What do we think about this?” “Can we shed any light on it?” Talk to them personally For example, “I know you felt there was a problem with the app. Here’s what we found re. the extent of the problem, and some suggested solutions from users. Do we believe any of these would work?” Qualitative findings can help engage the audience, building on any quant data. Hearing customers’ voices directly adds colour to the quantitative findings. Additionally, look to get your stakeholders involved in recommending customers to participate in the research process - this enhances their engagement and buy-in from the start of the process and they will be particularly keen to hear the results from their nominated contacts. Act Accordingly The next critical step is gaining buy-in to ACT on the findings. In other words, what will come of all the efforts that have been expended to collate the data? This is partly empowerment – ensuring (again, ideally provided from the outset) that team members have authority to implement changes on the back of the findings. But it also once more comes down to communication approaches. You will likely have brought all your stakeholders together to agree a data strategy based on your organization or event’s specific goals and objectives. It’s now time for you to reconvene this group and determine an action plan based on the results. Be clear here on priorities and make sure the number of actions is kept to a manageable number – particularly for an individual stakeholder/team. Some actions may be small, however some of the more significant changes will involve engaging third parties and may not be ready to action immediately. Don’t kick these into the long grass, instead look to reschedule a meeting to review these changes on a regular basis and allocate a time in which they will be addressed. Documenting this process is key to engendering accountability amongst those involved and overall, ensuring the insights successfully leads to actions. In conclusion Change within business can be tricky to navigate. At times it can feel like an uphill task, particularly when your faced with multiple stakeholders. Remember, it’s human nature to resist change and can make some individuals feel vulnerable or nervous. Having a good data strategy in place, well-delivered insights, and a measurable action plan will help alleviate many fears and give your organization a solid foundation on which to build a positive customer-centric future. *** Like this? Download your free copy of The Power of Data Insights for Associations - Turning Insight into Revenue.
Why does your association need an event data strategy and what are the risks of not having one? Event data—and being able to use and interpret it effectively—is essential for associations to understand the impact that events have on their members. It’s equally essential for ensuring that this impact grows rather than fades over time, that events stay front of mind for members and key stake holders alike. Explori has worked with thousands of event professionals and meeting planners to help them understand how benchmarking, attendee tracking, setting strategic goals and other practices can work to ensure that events fulfill their purpose, whether it’s driving business for members, bringing members together for networking or moving the dial for the industry. Sophie Holt, managing director of Explori, cautions that simply gathering event data without a strategic plan in place is not enough to achieve these goals. Holt emphasizes that metrics in isolation, including past attendance, only indicate what has already happened, not what will happen. Even events that were well attended one year can fall flat the next if a newer, more enticing show comes along. Perhaps the seemingly popular event was really a “hostage” situation that only attracted people because they had no other choices. An event data strategy, one that drills down into attendee behavior and examines their actual engagement with the event, can help predict future attendance and indicate what improvements may be needed to keep it on an upward trajectory. While some event planners may think data won’t tell them anything they don’t already know, Holt says that all too often anecdotal information, whether it’s an effusive email from a happy speaker or angry words from a sponsor, gets mistaken for data. “You can’t just rely on anecdotal information—it’s a psychological phenomenon that we retain information that confirms beliefs we already hold,” she says. “It’s data that gives voice to the silent majority and reveals hidden trends.” What are the risks of not having an event data strategy and why is it more crucial than ever? With the pandemic, business and marketing experts say that people have become more discerning of how they spend their time and are looking for more curated experiences. “We need a deep understanding of the customer journey and future behavior,” Holt says. “The risks of not doing so are clear—you will be less customer centric, and decisions will be made without addressing what people want or need. You will fall short in marketing goals.” She also notes that while the rise of event technology has brough in a flood of new data, it hasn’t brought in a flood of new insights. Unfortunately, data all too often gets trapped in silos within an organization and loses whatever impact it could have. With a strategy in place, data gets to the people who can use it to create better events, achieve organizational goals and predict behavior. How has Explori helped associations use event data to their best advantage? One example is the Chicago Dental Society (CDS), which has held its Midwinter Meeting every February for over 150 years. Feedback from the event had been gathered on rudimentary survey tools, which didn’t provide a robust way of understanding how the event performed in the eyes of the attendees and exhibitors. The CDS turned to Explori to help it understand how this annual event was performing against the global healthcare sector. Explori gathered data at three key points throughout the event journey. Attendees and exhibitors were asked at registration about their objectives in attending the meeting, data on their engagement was gathered at the event and responses were mapped to provide a post-event analysis. Following the meeting, Explori blended several key indicators together to provide a single overall event score, including overall satisfaction, likelihood to return, and event importance. Aggregated together, these points provided a clear picture of the event’s performance, without emphasis being placed on any single factor. From the data, Explori created an analysis that enabled the CDS senior leadership to understand the attendees and exhibitors’ experiences at the event and their attitudes towards it. They were then able to prioritize the areas of improvement that would have the most meaningful impact. Holt believes that employing an event data strategy for a successful event is not dissimilar to how a farmer ensures a successful harvest. It starts with planting the right crop, monitoring environmental factors throughout the growing cycle and making note of what can be done better next time. Like this? Download your copy of The Power of Data Insights for Associations - Turning Insight into Revenue.
This month, Explori’s Sophie Holt was invited by M&IT magazine to shares findings from the latest Global Recovery Insights study 2021, which reveals how corporate event professionals and their businesses really feel about returning to live events… Originally created for M&IT Magazine The great comeback One year on and businesses who regularly exhibit at trade shows are still sorely missing live events. While the absence of trade shows has meant some resources have been diverted into other channels, businesses have been unable to replicate the value of trade shows in key areas. 66 per cent of businesses reported reduced networking opportunities and 44 per cent felt fewer leads had been generated due to the lack of live trade shows. As a result, both visitors and exhibitors are now eager to participate in events at roughly the same frequency as they did pre‐pandemic (2018/19). With 72 per cent of existing visitors saying they plan to attend trade shows at the same or increased frequency, this indicates a positive appetite from attendee audiences for the return to the show floor. For exhibitors at trade shows, the intention to participate in future events has also returned to pre‐pandemic levels, with 62 per cent planning to exhibit at the same or increased frequency as before. Will the money return? While some event marketers are still having to reduce their trade show budgets, overall the cuts have been less severe and less widespread than feared. Three quarters of exhibiting businesses expect their budget to return to pre‐pandemic levels within 12 months. Spending on corporate events may also decrease, but like trade shows, the impact seems less severe than was suggested in 2020. Interestingly, there is evidence that event marketers are prepared to protect investment in the shows they do choose to support, suggesting that high‐quality shows could be protected from budget cuts. Of the marketers who will reduce their spend, three quarters are looking to exhibit at fewer shows and half will reduce their spend on travel and accommodation. However, of the respondents planning to save money by exhibiting at fewer shows, 60 per cent will maintain their spend on design and build and 67 per cent will continue to invest the same amount in floor space. Unlike previous years where visitor numbers were the driving factor, 86 per cent of businesses exhibiting stated visitor quality is a large influence on their decision to support a show, against 67 per cent who are influenced by visitor numbers. This ‘quality is judged primarily through previous experience at a show, suggesting established shows with high Net Promoter Scores (NPSs) are well placed to attract investment, but shows that are highly recommended are also valued, with over half of respondents saying this has a bearing on their decision. Going digital Across the entire survey, there is no evidence to suggest a wholesale shift away from live events towards digital – budgets for virtual events have remained flat. Whilst visitors appreciate the time and cost savings offered by digital and find it a convenient way to consume content, live events are still preferred across every aspect of the experience due to their unique ability to offer a high quality of networking and overall experience. For exhibit marketers and sponsors, the live experience is still valued across all aspects, and above hybrid. Only 64 per cent of exhibitors have participated in a digital event, up from just 52 per cent 12 months previously. Explori’s exhibitor NPSSM benchmark for digital events sits well below that for live events. This suggests exhibitors’ experience at digital events is a significant challenge for organisers who wish to pursue revenue for a digital model. Is hybrid the best of both worlds? Hybrid events would seem to have the potential to combine the best of live networking and discovery with the best of digital content consumption. However, the cohort of visitors who have experienced a hybrid event were not enthusiastic about them. While better than a purely digital event, hybrid was seen as a detraction from the live event and there is evidence that hybrid events are waning in popularity as live events return. Is there any future for digital and hybrid? Previous studies have shown that digital had the potential to attract new audiences, particularly where the show was new. This has been borne out by the many events which have seen an increase in visitor numbers to their digital shows. It appears this new digital audience has the potential to convert to a live audience in future, with around half of exhibitors and visitors saying they would be highly likely to attend an event in‐person given the chance, having previously discovered it digitally. The Panel For the first time, the Global Insights report surveyed a senior group of UK and US decision-makers who had no experience of using trade shows as part of their marketing mix prior to the pandemic. The results revealed that this group had been much more digitally engaged over the previous 12 months, having been much more likely to sponsor a digital event or organise their own than our exhibitor respondents. This group is also interestingly more likely to convert from digital participation to in‐person participation than either current visitors or exhibitors. They were also highly likely to continue to participate in digital with over two‐thirds saying they would continue to run their own digital events and sponsor and exhibit at third‐party digital events. Most strikingly, 55 per cent of this group now believe that they will exhibit at in‐person trade shows more frequently. What will the future of trade shows look like? The research identified four key findings regarding the future of trade shows. Digital has the potential to broaden both the exhibitor and visitor audience. It will play a part in enhancing communities around the event, providing better access to content and a more curated experience. The quality of the audience over quantity of numbers will rise in value. Future organisers will focus on engaging the highest quality audience and the narrative will shift away from selling based on the number of attendees. As a result, the floor plan will change. Future organisers will offer a range of sponsorships and activations to help exhibitors capitalise on more curated, meaningful engagement with high-quality visitors, rather than focusing on footfall. Booth design and exhibit strategy will change accordingly. Future organisers will also work more collaboratively with exhibitors at trade shows to ensure that the value proposition, both on and offline, is designed in conjunction with the exhibitor’s objectives and maximise investment is fully understood. In summary The Global Recovery Insights survey reflects the optimism felt by the exhibition industry that live events are returning to pre‐pandemic levels. Budget cuts have not been as harsh as predicted and spending is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels within an average show cycle. Quality shows are likely to be protected and digital has opened up new opportunities to convert naysayers to the power of live! The research was conducted by the live events research specialists Explori, in partnership with UFI and supported by SISO, has just been published. The global quantitative survey of trade show visitors and exhibitors, carried out in the summer of 2021, collectively gained 15,000 responses representing trade show participation in over 30 countries. The full Global Recovery Insights report is now available to download here.
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.
How can trade show sales teams build trust and de-risk the exhibitor experience to give higher exhibitor ROI - new video... Explori joined Raoul from media sales training specialists, Flume Training to share some of our insights on what drives high exhibitor ROI and what event sales people can do to drive trust. This clip also includes one of the most surprising stats to emerge from Explori's global trade show insights... You can see more of Flume Training's courses and tips for event sales teams here.
The UFI Connect series of webinars draws together trade show experts from organisers and venues all round the world. This week, Sophie Holt, our Global Strategy Director joined the panel to share insights on trade show exhibitor experience... Focus on the exhibitor experience will be a key part of the live event industry's recovery. And of course ensure its future success. Explori's Global Strategy Director, Sophie Holt joined panellists from Clarion Events and Exhibit Media to share insights about exhibitor needs during the current crisis and in the wider context. This included data from our major Global Exhibitor Insights projects - the largest studies of exhibitor sentiment ever undertaken in the trade show industry. You can watch the full webinar on demand now.
How to use data to generate unique insight and high value sponsorship opportunities - webinar now on-demand... Audience data might be the most under-utilised resource available to trade show organisers. It has the potential to generate unique insight, compelling content and high value sponsorship opportunities. In partnership with sales training specialists, Flume, Explori are hosting this webinar to explore using data to drive revenue and add value throughout the sales process. This webinar is now available on-demand Aimed at strategic and commercial leads looking to maximise all the revenue available to them, this interactive session will discuss: Pounds or pennies - the components of a high value campaign Creating lead generation wins for sponsors Using insight to make every sales relationship more successful Transitioning shows from market serving to market making
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.
Welcoming over 15,000 attendees, IMEX America aims to help meeting and event planners create powerful connections. Their objective for IMEX America 2019 was to better understand the experience of their visitors and exhibitors in relation to other events in the industry. Explori are the largest provider of trade show benchmarks across measures that include. Net Promoter Score, overall satisfaction, loyalty, event importance and more. These metrics are anonymised and incorporated into Explori’s global benchmarking dataset which allows organisers to compare their own event scores against an industry benchmark. IMEX GROUP traditionally used SurveyMonkey to measure the performance of their events however they wanted to understand how their scores on key metrics including Net Promoter Score compared to the industry. With over 3,000 trade shows in its dataset, Explori is able to provide organisers with global benchmarking data. This empowers organisers like IMEX GROUP to understand how they compare to competitors and provide insights into how they can improve their event to get and stay ahead. Download the IMEX case study here Of the 3,000+ events Explori benchmark, IMEX America ranked in the 99th percentile for visitor satisfaction. This demonstrates that their visitor satisfaction places them in the top one percent of all the trade shows Explori measures. For exhibitor satisfaction they ranked in the top 16% of the Explori dataset. Visitor loyalty (as measured by likelihood of return) scored 4.11 and for exhibitors this was even higher at 4.40. Scores for visitor and exhibitor loyalty both came in higher than average for their industry. Net Promoter Score is the measure of attendees who would recommend IMEX America to a colleague or a friend is ranked on a scale of -100 to +100. The industry average for trade show visitors recorded by Explori is +9 and for exhibitors -17. IMEX America scored +61 and +23 respectively. These findings supported IMEX’s understanding that they were delivering a strong event that catered to the needs of both its exhibitors and visitors. Filtering survey results revealed even deeper insights. The IMEX America team wanted to understand which attendees weren’t having the best experience and how they could improve this in 2020. Lottie Elson Associate Director of Marketing at IMEX GROUP said, “Explori’s research team flagged up an interesting theme in our post-show results. First time buyers had lower satisfaction scores than others in our attendee population. By filtering the report based on this attendee profile we found that this audience wanted slightly different information on how to navigate and make the most of their time at the event. They also wanted opportunities to network with other first time visitors. This has been a very useful insight which we will be using to improve the experience of our first time visitor buyers in 2020. And thanks to Explori’s intuitive platform we will be able to easily compare the satisfaction of first time visitor buyers in 2020 to our 2019 scores to see if we have succeeded in achieving our goal.”
One of the highlights of last month’s Experiential Marketing Summit in Las Vegas was a benchmark study revealed by Sparks and Event Marketer about the consumerization of B2B events. When I compared some of their findings to Explori’s Global Visitor Insights report a clear difference emerged. When people attend trade shows they have different event expectations compared to when they attend brand-led events. In the US trade shows are still one of the most profitable B2B media strategies, generating over $13.2bn revenue in 2018. But all events aren’t made equal, and the data suggests nor are the people who attend them. In the Sparks report, they surveyed attendees at brand-led events (i.e. Dreamforce, AdobeMax, Google I/O and more) to understand what today’s attendees want from B2B events. Consumerization came out top as being highly important. However, Explori’s Global Visitor Insights (GVI) 2018/19 report demonstrated something quite different. If you exhibit regularly at events, or organise your own shows, you'll probably be surprised by what the data suggests. What is consumerization in the context of events? Consumerization (or festivalization) is a megatrend that exploded on the B2B event scene in 2016/17. A stream of articles and reports cited the changing face of B2B events influenced by what was happening in the consumer events space. The growth of the experiential economy has created a convergence point for businesses and the creative industries. B2B professionals have been exposed to the high-end production of festival style events such as South by Southwest and now expect a certain level of fun and enjoyment from conferences. B2B events have been challenged to adopt creative elements from consumer events in order to engage an audience who are becoming more distracted and fractured. It does however beg the question, are there some cases in which incorporating consumer elements is not required? Could it even be detrimental? What does the data say about consumerization in B2B events? The Sparks report found that, “while a significant 68% of B2B brands see consumerization as an important trend, an even higher percentage of attendees (77%) feel consumerization is important.” The data here reveals that attendees of brand-led events want to have festival-style elements woven into their experience. It appears they go to these events, not only to be informed but to be entertained. A different picture emerges in the GVI report. We asked 13,000 trade show attendees if they would spend more time at shows that are more entertaining. Only 24% of people in developed countries agreed*. We also asked if they thought events should be more like festivals. The results showed a much lower interest in introducing consumer elements to the trade show experience compared to brand-led events. Even amongst the youngest cohort of our study. Only 36% of under 24s and 33% of 25-34s agreed trade shows should be more like festivals. This disparity surprised me at first. Why do the expectations of someone attending a trade show appear to be so different from when they attend a brand-led event? A deeper dive into the data revealed what drives this. The shifting priorities of event attendees In brand-led events, Sparks found that the top 3 priorities for attendees are: Education/Professional Development (73%) Networking (68%) See new products (55%) However, at trade shows we found the top 3 priorities are: To see new products and services (62%) To keep up to date with market trends (61%) Networking (50%) 59% of our respondents agreed that it didn’t matter whether or not trade shows were entertaining as long as they could achieve their business objectives. It appears that trade show attendees have quite clear cut goals when it comes to attending events. Fun is a “nice to have” but when it comes down to it, the real measure of success is whether or not they find the suppliers and solutions their business needs. On the other side, brand-led event attendees want to be educated and increase their network. They also want that to be wrapped in an experience that echoes consumer events with more unique event spaces, innovative environments, autonomy over how they learn and interact and more creative F&B. For event marketers/organisers utilising a mix of trade shows and brand-led events, this is something to bear in mind. If you’re hosting or sponsoring a brand-led event it may be more beneficial to focus on the experience of your event or stand in order to satisfy attendees who expect to be entertained. Alternatively if you’re exhibiting at a trade show you may want to strip back the experiential elements and focus on showcasing the product/service you offer in an innovative way to converge with attendee expectations. It’s not a one size fits all approach. It’s important to consider whether throwing in consumer elements across all your events, regardless of format is going to deliver the best return. In order to cultivate an event strategy that leaves a lasting impact; tap into the unique expectations of attendees and tailor your strategy to suit. Download the full Global Visitor Insights report here.
We published the findings of our 2018/2019 Global Visitor Insights at the UFI Global Congress in St Petersburg. Produced in partnership with UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and supported by the Society of Independent Show Organisers (SISO), the report represents the biggest ever global study of trade show visitor experience. In this article, first published in Exhibition World, report author, Sophie Holt discusses some of the findings... Overall the view of trade shows amongst our visitors is positive and stable. When we look at the Explori Global Benchmarks, which contain visitor feedback on over 1,600 trade shows, key indicators of visitor experience such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) have been stable over the last three years, at +5 in 2016 and now +7 in 2018 for trade show visitors. This is reflected in the responses to the survey; most visitors report trade shows are performing about the same, if not getting a little better. But is fatigue is setting in for some regions? We can see that visitors in markets where the trade show industry is more developed, such as Europe and North America, are more likely than visitors in developing markets to say trade shows are getting worse. 27% of visitors in North America think trade shows are getting worse, compared to only 14% in the Middle East and Africa. The most cited frustrations for visitors will be a familiar list to most organisers: seating, catering, parking and queuing. However, visitors with these frustrations generally like trade shows, find them beneficial and plan to attend them again in future. When we look at respondents who dislike trade shows and do not find them beneficial, they tell us about very different frustrations. Core drivers of visitor satisfaction Visitors with negative views are much more concerned about their ability to meet the right exhibitors. This supports the insight from the Explori global benchmarks, where we can map how closely different visitor objectives correlate with overall satisfaction. Again, we see that exhibitors are key to visitors meeting their most important objectives of “sourcing new products” and “staying up to date with market trends”. 29 show directors and senior marketers were interviewed to support the research. Many of them emphasised the importance of a seamless visitor experience and creating a “Wow-Factor” for audiences through tactics such as “festivalisation”. Organisers may be in danger of under-valuing the core role of the exhibitor in driving visitor satisfaction. This study allowed us to understand visitors’ overall views of trade shows as a channel to meet their business objectives. Again, the results were positive; across a range of business objectives, trade shows were the preferred channel ahead of social media, online market places and trade publications. Whilst visitors are most likely to see trade shows as the best channel to achieve their goals, they do recognise and at times prefer alternative formats. Shows that traditionally operate as buying forums are potentially at risk, and in fact 15% of visitors see online marketplaces as better ways to buy/source products, with this rising to 29% amongst under 24’s. Similarly, learning about the industry is facilitated by other channels such as trade media, conferences and social media, with only 34% who say trade shows are the best way to achieve this goal. Those aged under 34 and women of all age groups are more likely to prefer social media as a channel to find new ideas and innovation. It is important to note that whilst survey respondents said they expect their trade show attendance to remain stable, they expect to increase their use of all other media channels, potentially putting more pressure on the trade show model. Many organisers however, see this as an opportunity rather than a threat as trade shows partner with other channels to attract visitors, or become content creators themselves. Organisers refer to a desire to create communities around their events and provide content 365 days a year. However, some express concern that to be successful at this the structures and skill sets within their organisations will need to evolve beyond one designed to deliver a trade show over a period of a few days. Download the full report here.