Updated: Apr 2
Surveys are one of the key ways event planners get feedback from their audience, but using them well is not easy and requires a careful balancing act.
Ask your delegates to fill in too many surveys and they are likely to feel so overwhelmed they decide not to do any of them, but send them too few and you are potentially missing out on some great feedback that can help you to plan brilliant events in the future.
Surveys are typically sent out after the event, or even before it gets underway, but a great tip is to actually distribute them while the event is going on.
Your delegates are a captive audience, so to speak, so getting the most out of them while they are at the event is a no-brainer when you think about it. But how should you go about using surveys at your event?
A wide range of online tools can be incorporated into your event management software so you can keep all your survey results in the same place for analysis at a later date.
By comparing the results you get while the event is ongoing to the surveys you conducted ahead of opening the doors, you will be able to plot closely the differences between attendees' expectations and how these were matched by in reality.
Pre-event surveys are vital to assess the needs of your audience, so the main thing you are looking for from any polls you do during the event is to ascertain how useful attendees believe various sessions have been. You need to find out whether their expectations were met.
Benefits of surveys during events
Surveys are a great way to keep your audience engaged during the course of your event and by using them properly, you'll get some fantastic real-time feedback that can give you a great sense of what is happening on the ground.
As event planners, it can be easy to lose sight of one of the most important things about your exhibition – ensuring your guests feel as though they are getting the best possible value from attending.
By using surveys, you'll quickly be able to gauge levels of feeling among your delegates and work out where a few careful tweaks can result in a whole world of improvements to the end result.
If you have your own event app, then surveys can easily be incorporated into these and it will give your attendees something to focus on during any lulls in activity over the course of the exhibition.
Using the results
Of course, carrying out any research is pointless unless you have a solid plan for what you are going to do with the data you collect.
Collate the results of your survey and use them to come up with a set of findings about your event. These can then make up the basis of a press release you can send out to demonstrate how successful your event was, helping to maintain buzz and interest among interested parties.
You can also use this as a springboard to start selling tickets for the next planned event. Being able to show that the majority of attendees enjoyed your event and found it a good use of their time is vital in persuading people to sign up to attend in the future. You could even post on social media about the findings, and then include information on the next event with a link to the event registration system.
Ensure your surveys have a mix between tick-box questions and ones where respondents can open up and provide detail about their feelings, as this gives you both quantitative and qualitative data. You can use any positive responses you get from delegates in a testimonial section on your website, as long as you get permission to do so.
Tips and tricks
When creating any sort of survey, the hardest thing is usually getting people to fill it in. There's no point spending hours crafting a great poll if you only get a handful of responses, after all. You have to make it clear there is something in it for them – everything about your event has to add value.
It's therefore worth coming up with a small competition for respondents to be entered in for – perhaps the prize could be a ticket for the next year's event. It doesn't have to be a show-stopper, just a sign that you value the time your event's attendees put into filling in the survey.
Finally – always offer an opportunity in the survey for respondents to provide feedback on any issue that came up during the event.
Giving delegates a voice is vital and makes it more likely they will come back next year, while you'll be able to compile a list of any issues that need to be addressed.