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  • Maggie Pearson

Data: How to get it and what to do with it

Data is the number one most important part of your meetings and events. When collected and managed properly the uses for data are endless. You can grow and scale your events and thrill your stakeholders. Data gives you the tools to succeed.

Your meeting participants provide constant information to your organization even if they know it or not. Some data collection is straight forward and some requires a little more finesse. Surveying is the most direct way to get data from your attendees. You ask specific questions and you get specific answers. Harnessing the right questions can be all you need to drive changes for your events. If you want to make a big change, having the data to back up what you want to do can be all your leadership needs to give you the green light.

Every event needs a survey but not every survey needs to be long or extensive. You should meet with your planning team and determine where you want your event to be in the future. Then list out what survey questions you need to ask to get there. You also need to ask about the event that is currently taking place to ensure you have met your current goals. Keeping your questions from event to event consistent is important too, because then you can start to track the changes from event to event.

It can be difficult to get responses from attendees after the event. Try sending the survey out before the closing event or consider incentivizing respondents. Remember! It is important to keep your survey questions clear and concise. It is also important to make your surveys the appropriate length for the event. A virtual 1-hour workshop shouldn’t have 20 questions and a multi-day annual meeting can’t really be summed up in 10 questions. Multiple choice questions will get you more responses than written open-ended responses will. Attendees will give you feedback if its quick and painless.

Another way of collecting data can be analyzing the click data and page view counts on your marketing and websites. It isn't someone giving you direct feedback, but it is something you can aggregate and make determinations from. For instance, can you determine if a session will be highly attended if the listing in the app has a higher rate of being favorited than other sessions at the same time? What if you told attendees in advance that you were going to use the number of favorites per session to select room sizes for the event. Now, instead of guessing what attendees will find popular, you let them tell you.

An additional area of data is from what happens onsite at your events. Ask the hotel or center to help you collect information about your participants and how they act as they go about their days during the event. For instance, was there a specific item on the buffet that ran out first or even last? How much internet bandwidth did your attendees consume and at what times of the day? Can the outlets in the building provide reports on what was ordered, average spend per transaction, and the times that they were busy? In the hotels, how many of each room type were booked by your attendees? The questions are endless but you can start by asking your vendors what they already track and go from there.

After you have collected your data, what do you do with it? Data is only helpful if you can put action behind it. Collecting the data shouldn’t just be a box you tick off at the end of your task list. Put it to work for you and start making better decisions for your group. Use the food and beverage data to help you order differently at future events, giving the people more of what they want and creating less waste for what they won’t eat. Adding the housing and outlet information to your RFP gives bidding properties more information on how to best partner with you.

Collect the data, review the data, and use the data to make your events successful!

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