Opinion: A great event is only half the job – you must measure its success

Paul Stoddart

CWT’s 2018 Meetings and Events Future Trends Report, released yesterday, gave five tips to improve your meetings and events in 2018.

  1.  Focus on the ‘why’ – Set clear objectives from the start and use them to define your budget. Put a major emphasis on attendee engagement and then measure. 
  2.  Budget – Always start with the value the meeting or event can generate. A clear return on investment (ROI) for all to see is key to continued investment and successful meetings. 
  3.  Attendee experience – Make the whole process as simple as possible.  
  4.  Technology – Use technology to make conversations easier, and create user-friendly personalized attendee experiences. 
  5. Safety and security – Plan in line with the amount of risk for each situation for both physical and cyber security, and do not inconvenience attendees. 

Point number two mentions a clear ROI; something all events professionals are no doubt acutely aware of when talking costs with clients. But what’s the best way to measure it?

C&IT spoke to Paul Stoddart, managing director, CWT M&E UK, Ireland and Benelux, to ask exactly this question.

“I find it staggering sometimes, the number of quite large-scale events that are produced each year with very little thought to the notion of measuring the ROI or the impact of the event,” says Stoddart.

“It’s important to ask why you’re having the event, what’s the purpose of it and how are we going to measure whether it’s worth the effort? There are lots of different ways you can get people together these days without moving them round the world and being in the same room.

“Nothing beats face-to-face interaction but you have always got to ask clients ‘why we are meeting and what’s the purpose of the event?’ and be absolutely rigorous in making sure that is well understood by everybody. And that should be your guiding light for the whole process of putting on the event.”

Setting KPIs to measure the success of the event is as important as all the details like food, decoration or music that made the event itself a success, suggests Stoddart. And when measuring that success, remember that sticking to the budget or coming in under budget may not be the best measure of success if other elements didn’t work so well.

“The KPIs could be all sorts of things, quantitative measures like social media interactions, pre- and post-event learning measurements, surveying attendees for their attitudes towards a particular brand or product,” he says. “But I would urge clients to use a range of techniques and KPIs to get a balanced view of the effectiveness of every event.”