In the midst of so many responsibilities during past conference cycles, I admit that as a meeting professional I have missed out on significant data collection and feedback by “going through the motions” using subpar, or even non-existent, surveying techniques. I now realize the importance of surveys and how they play a major role in any organizational strategy. Surveys are a great way to demonstrate the act of listening and also doing.
Instead of using the same old survey year after year, it may be time to overhaul or at least audit what, when, and who you are surveying. I promise you that this will not be a statistical blog (as there is a science to this methodology). Instead, I want to share how leveraging surveys will make a difference in your organization’s future.
Well before your annual conference or meeting takes place, start building the framework for your survey. Think big picture and include other departments that can take advantage of using the survey, too. For example, membership may need direct input from members and the post conference survey is a great avenue for them to obtain a wider response.
Throw away your paper session surveys and the manual process for inputting the responses, and provide your attendees with an app to capture immediate session feedback. It will save both you and, more importantly, your attendee’s valuable time and allow you to collect feedback while their thoughts on a session are still fresh in their minds. Also, provide rewards for filling out any survey and communicate the importance of their response. Finally, providing an app is also a great way to improve attendee engagement at the event.
It is vital to keep a positive and open dialogue with your sponsors and exhibitors however the survey should be separate from the attendee survey. Building and maintaining an open relationship is the cornerstone to both understanding and fulfilling the needs of your supporters. Survey them after the show to gather their feedback about the hall traffic, hours, and tools used, such as a lead retrieval system.
Instead of filing the content and responses away, the feedback from the surveys should be shared with all of your stakeholders, especially your leadership and Board of Directors. Your post conference survey can help your organization’s various departments throughout the year. And although the entire survey results may not pertain to your planning committee, it is vital to share the feedback and comments on the content and speakers. Further, be sure to share the survey responses with your speakers. I like to send a thank you note and attach their session survey results from me. I also make sure to follow up with a hand written note from the committee chair and my CEO or Executive Director. Ultimately, you need to get your results in the hands of those that matter. When it’s time for outlining next year’s session schedule and getting your conference committee in action, auditing the results will be invaluable for setting your team in the right direction.
To see how your attendees can use session surveys and other features on our Conference Attendee app at your next event, contact us
Posted by Christina Buck, CMP