Selling a lot of tickets is certainly a good measuring stick for evaluating the success of your event though it’s just one of many barometers. It’s important that you have some way of gauging event success in order to make the next one even better.

You should have multiple methods in mind well before the event’s planning phase even begins.

1. Monitor Social Media Activity

It’s a given that you should be active on social media in the days leading up to the event. This will get attendees excited and talking about it on their own social network channels. You need to continue to closely monitor social media activity after the event.

Do attendees continue to send out posts using the event hashtag? Are your followers more active than usual on your company channel? Also, read the posts to know what attendees are actually saying. Are the posts full of praise? Were there more than a few common complaints? You can use a tool like Eventstagram to monitor social media activity.

Additionally, you can also follow up with special incentives as a thank you for those who attended. The number of guests that take advantage of the offer is another way of measuring how well the event went.

2. Post-Event Surveys

If you want to know how attendees felt about the event, just ask them. The simplest way to do this is through a post-event survey. The typical “unlikely or likely” questions work well here? You can ask questions like:

  • After attending the event, are you more or less likely to recommend company products and services to family and friends?
  • Are you more or less likely to attend the next event?
  • Having attended the event, are you more or less likely to buy product X during its launch?

For questions that received a “less likely” or “very unlikely” response, you should provide a response box for respondents to explain their reasoning.

With surveys, you have more than a general idea of the attendees’ perception. This helps you identify weak points (e.g. insufficient venue, lack of entertainment) that could be improved on. Remember, even if you sold every ticket, can you really say the event was a success if guests felt the event was just “meh” or so-so at best?

3. Measure Revenue vs Overhead Cost

If you are organizing a corporate event, the purpose is to create branding and new customers. It’s also about bringing in additional revenue. To make money, though, you have to spend money, and it’s possible to spend more money than you bring in if the event ends up being a bomb.

Essentially, you should measure parameters like:

  • Anticipated cost vs actual cost
  • Anticipated revenue vs actual revenue
  • Actual cost vs actual revenue

Keep in mind, though, that going slightly over the budget and/or earning slightly less revenue than anticipated does not automatically make the event a failure. You may, for example, not have brought in as much revenue as anticipated but did acquire a far above an average number of signatures to be included to your email newsletters. That’s scores of potential new clients right there, some of which may be repeated customers and bring in residual income for many years to come.

Another aspect to measure is the efficiency in planning your event. Did you spend too much time to handle tedious event logistics like preparing name badges, repeatedly updating event websites, emailing back-end-forth to collect speakers’ information, promoting your event, etc?  To save money and time, consider how you can do better next time.  One idea is to automate some of those tasks with all-in-one event management system – check out Whova’s event management software offered for free for customers, or request more information.

4. Sales Numbers

Monitor your sales numbers in the weeks following an event. Is there an uptick in the figures? Also, keep track of who are making the purchases. Are they mostly repeat customers, first-time consumers that attended the event, or past customers that returned after an absence?

Don’t just look at the sales numbers. You can also measure the number of sign-ups for a trial service or signups for your newsletters. On top of that, also gauge the number of email or phone call enquiries.

Lastly, do you already have the next event planned and announced after the first event? If you do, are people already reserving their tickets or at least indicating an interest?

5. Incorporate an Event App

Remember, it’s all about streamlining for yourself and your attendees. Incorporate a conference app like Whova, which is designed for event planners in mind. The service lets users customize their own event app and networking tool. With Whova, users can:

  • Include their event schedule or agenda in the app for staffers and attendees to view
  • Allow guests to personalize their own schedules and set reminders
  • Allow guests to post comments and feedback for event planners and guest speakers
  • Store, scan, and exchange digital business cards
  • Embed company and sponsor banners
  • Send announcements in real time, such as changes in schedule or parking space availability

With the ability to send surveys and receive comments, you can gauge attendee satisfaction right as the event is in progress (Request Whova demo here).

I liked that I could easily make my agenda, connect with people, scan business cards. The Whova app is the best app I have seen yet. It was VERY helpful to connect with many people and I’m still using it to connect with people!

  — Julie Tetzlaff, Assistant Dean, Medical College of Wisconsin

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6. Sponsor Recognition

It’s not just the attendees’ level of satisfaction that determines event success but also that of the sponsors as well. Your sponsors are the backbone of your event because they are the ones funding it. Were they pleased with how the event went? Did they feel like your company held up its end of the bargain? You need to gauge the sponsors’ impression. Instead of a survey, though, set up a Skype or sit-down meeting with your sponsor representative.

Remember, sponsors are hardly a one-time deal; you want to establish a long-term relationship so that they have your back for subsequent events. Be open to constructive criticisms from your sponsor and take to heart any recommendations on what can be done differently for the next event.

If the sponsor has decided not to move forward with the relationship, then obviously that is not an indicator of an event that went well even if it was generally well received by guests. Sponsors have a different way of perceiving an event than the guests do, so be sure to cater to their expectations.

Define Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It is never enough to have just a single key performance indicator; you need three, four, or even five in place to accurately assess whether the event can be defined as a success by your measurement. Even if all measures indicate a success, the evaluation will help you make improvements so the next event reaches an even higher milestone.

About The Author:

Dan McCarthy Event ManagerDan McCarthy has worked in the event management industry for five years and is currently an event manager for the UK-based company Ultimate Experience. His portfolio includes many successful event planning projects for companies across various niches. He is currently a regular contributor for his company’s blog site. Follow him on Twitter at @DanCarthy2.


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