Most conference organizers get feedback from attendees and from exhibitors either during the meetings or after their conference is over. We offer such services and have some nifty tools, for example, our ExecStats dashboard, by which our clients analyze this type of data in a fast user-friendly manner.
But some conference organizers who are thinking outside of the box are getting attendee feedback in advance of their conferences.
If you are like most conference organizers, you are sending out notices to as many potential audiences as you can -- to get your conference goers pre-registered and to get as many committed attendees as early as possible. You are likely sending potential attendees to your site to register or to get information about your conference so they can decide if they would like to attend. And you are making a similar effort with exhibitors and sponsors. How well is all this is going? How effective is it? Do you know if anyone is having any problems? Do you use the same model for all conferences?
Conference organizers may be missing a big opportunity to grow and improve their conferences before they even get started.
One of our clients is a major media house, having a world-wide audience of professionals who subscribe to their magazines, visit their websites, and attend their conferences. This web of connections enhances their total media approach and offers advertisers a multi-tiered way of reaching their buyers. So we conduct research for all of these entities and compare the value of each.
For their conferences, they have been conducting post-conference research, but we suggested they allow their attendees and exhibitors to provide advance feedback in a systematic manner, whenever they come to their site to visit. Our client has multiple expos every year in all parts of the world. They are constantly preparing for one of them. So this conference site research is set up so that it is ongoing -- ALL the time -- for all their conferences in one online report.
When the client goes to look at the data, she can see feedback on the preparation to the London conference side-by-side with the feedback from the past conferences in Chicago, or San Francisco, or Singapore. She can thus,
- Make decisions affecting the preparation
- Compare this conference preparation with that of previous shows
- See where in the vicinity of the conference to best advertise to increase attendance
- Add a panel on a new hot topic being asked for by attendees
- See and correct site problems that may not have otherwise been noticed
- See exactly what visitors like or don't like about the conference registration site
- Learn pre-conference expectations
- Have 24-hour online ExecStats access to all of this data all the time for all conferences on their yearly schedule.
Once in place, this system runs itself like a perpetual motion machine. It goes and goes until you want to change it. It builds and builds till you have a large, diverse and valuable respondent resource to turn to at any moment for your conference planning strategies. With this intelligence at your side, you will be making better more profitable decisions, and you will be doing this faster.
There are many ways to reach your audiences once they have attended your conferences. We like to think our ExecStats online feedback system is one of the best. It gives attendees online feedback access with full open-end answers for a deeper understanding and more sensitive feel. And the reporting allows our clients to interact with the data so they can point and click to...
- See how each conference sessions are rated
- See how the exhibits are rated
- See how the keynotes are rated
- Read verbatim comments by sessions, keynotes, or market segments
- Compare managers with C-level executives
- Compare site visitors to magazine readers
- Compare how small, medium and large companies differ
- See the characteristics of typical buyers
- Compare pre- and post-conference evaluations
- Derive lessons learned in preparation for the next conference.
It is vital to the success of all conferences to maintain a vibrant and healthy relationship with each and every exhibitor. Nuturing and caring about what is most central to each exhibitor's concerns can only be done when you know what is on their minds. It is as easy as asking them, but then it is also important to keep them up to date on how you responded to their needs. When you ask, your chances of repeat business increase dramatically, some say as much as 30% just for the asking. This is all the more important in times of economic stress.
Out ExecStats feedback system works with exhibitors just as well as it does for attendees, and pre-conference visitors to your conference web site. You can begin to track exhibitors in the same way you track attendees, over time, and nicely trended.
Bottom Line: Pre-conference feedback is something you should consider. It aligns expectations, alerts you to early problems before they fester into larger ones, and gives you a year long comparison of all your conference preparations in one place. Attendee and exhibitor feedback can also work in this "long view" way to provide continuity to your exhibit and conference evaluations -- to prove to yourself and to your advertisers and exhibitors that your audience intelligence is working to help them zero in on the sweetest spots in their markets.