Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Once your event is underway and delegates are enjoying the speakers you've lined up to appear, it's natural to start thinking ahead towards the next exhibition you'll be putting together. But it's vital to make the most of one of the top resources you have at your fingertips - your attendees themselves. Getting as much feedback about the event from them is vital if you are to be able to refine the experience you provide for future incarnations.
So how can a post-event survey help to do this?
Practicalities of surveys
You'll need to start thinking about your post-event surveys far in advance. Consider the types of questions you will want to ask and think about how you are going to collect and quantify the results in data you can use in the future.
There are various ways to go about putting together post-event surveys and there are myriad companies that offer to do it for you if you prefer to outsource the job to someone else. But if your event is a smaller proposition then it might be worth seeing if you can do it yourself. Even putting together a Google Doc and sending it out to your delegates after the event can provide a great resource you can use.
Survey tips and tricks
We've all seen loads of surveys and people have their favourite ways of doing it. But whether you opt for a drag and drop ranking question or something more like a Likert scale question, it's important you offer some open-ended queries where your attendees can expand on their answers and provide some guidance for how you can make improvements.
You're not just looking for survey participants to rate aspects of the event - although this information can also be useful to collect - what you are really trying to get from a post-event survey are ideas for what you can do next year, or whenever the next exhibition is booked for.
It's absolutely crucial to send out your post-event surveys as soon as possible afterwards, as you want it to be fresh in the mind of your attendees. However, there is a balance to be struck, as you probably want to give them a chance to digest all of the information you've presented to them and look back on it.
Anything from a couple of days to a week afterwards is probably a good timescale to think about, but longer than that and you risk your request for feedback being ignored as the delegates will have moved on to something else by then.
Another key thing you want to get out of the post-event survey is whether or not delegates would be interested in attending the event again in the future and if they would recommend it to colleagues and fellow professionals.
Sample post-event survey questions
To an extent you need to tailor these to the specifications of your own event, but there are some general questions that you can always get useful responses from. Consider asking questions such as 'What were your main objectives for the event?'; 'Compared to similar events you have been to, how does this event compare?'; and 'What subjects would you like to have seen covered?'.
You're looking for a mix of quantitative and qualitative data to get the most out of your post-event surveys. While it may be useful to have statistics showing which sessions, seminars and speakers were the most successful, you also want to give people the chance to be a bit more creative with their responses. By encouraging people to be as detailed as possible, you're likely to get a lot of great feedback and ideas for things you can do at future events to provide a higher quality of experience.
As with everything you do with planning your event, you want everything to integrate together with the minimum of fuss so you have all your resources in the same easy to access location. This means any post-event surveys you want to put together will have to fit in with your existing plans. An online delegate registration system that integrates with other software, such as a web-based survey tool like SurveyMonkey, can make sure you send the right information to all of the right delegates to get the best possible responses.