How do you know what event attendees want? Ask them. Every event planner wants to create a bespoke occasion that truly meets attendees’ needs. But with event agendas and features often needing to be locked down way in advance, it can be tricky to make the last minute changes needed to deliver the features attendees want.
However, thinking ahead and building attendee feedback into your planning schedule will enable you to gather data on the key things attendees are looking for from your event.
Think like a marketer and use these methods to highlight preferences from a broad or specific group of people:
Ideal for: lengthy and in-depth discussions to uncover multiple key wants and needs
Focus groups target a specific group of participants to explore a certain topic. Event planners can use focus groups to evaluate the needs/wants of previous or targeted attendees.
Planning a medical conference with a focus on physiotherapy in aged care? A focus group comprising of specialist physiotherapists will help you find out what they need from the event.
Whether you want to determine optimum catering menus or abstract delivery, remember to prepare a list of question areas. The conversation can be informal and relaxed (it should be participant driven) but you will need a framework to keep the conversation on topic.
Pro tip: Skype and other video conferencing platforms mean focus groups can be run remotely which can help expand your range of participants. However, be aware that you may miss out on important visual clues (e.g. body language) so it’s important to pay close attention to voice and tone.
Ideal for: short and snappy responses to a few key questions
Email surveys can get you answers, fast. However, remember that most inboxes are overloaded. Short surveys with multiple-choice options will work best.
Unless you have a targeted group of responders who are highly likely to complete your survey, select a large number of (appropriate) target emails to ensure a meaningful response.
Event App Surveys
Ideal for: post event feedback
Sending surveys via event attendees’ event apps is an effective way to get fresh thoughts re event success factors.
Notification alerts are more visible than emails and have a higher response rate.
Ideal for: finding out specific preferences re a broader range of topics e.g. meals and session content
A one to two page profile completed by event attendees can help curate event content, style and features. Include forms in the registration process or send them via email or include them as part of the event app.
Offer incentives for profile completion, such as gamification points.
Remind respondents that their input will help shape the content of future events.
Micro Conference Sessions
Ideal for: ensuring the event agenda is covering the issues currently concerning attendees
These sessions are informal meetings that takes place at he beginning of an event, conference or meeting. The less formal environment gives participants an opportunity to highlight timely concerns, pressing issues and hot topics.
Think of them as a final check and edit that your agenda is on point.
If any topic crops up that isn’t on the event agenda, think creatively about how it can be addressed. Do you have expert speakers who can weave relevant commentary into their session? It may only need a few additional sentences from your keynote speaker to show attendees you’re across the issues that matter to them.
Give your event agenda some breathing space so you can incorporate additional content. And don’t forget to let attendees know the importance of their feedback and participation. If you can, give real life examples of where a micro conference session or event app survey has helped deliver more of what attendees want and need.