The enhanced ability to measure the return on investment (ROI) of meetings and events through data is a current that is moving our industry forward at a momentous pace. “Historically, events and meetings have had the bad reputation of being a black hole for investments,” says industry technology expert Corbin Ball, CSEP, CMP, DES, MS, “but that status is shifting drastically and quickly thanks to new technology.”
A data-hungry mentality is forcing the introduction of technologies that track the entire ecosystem of an event from the moment the attendee walks out their front door to the type of sheets they requested at the hotel and type of transportation that delivered them to their program.
“Planners used computers before and after events, but during an event they were flying blind,” Ball recalls. “For example, paper surveys were handed out, but tallying wasn’t completed until after the event—not in time to make midcourse corrections.”
One example of a successful implementation comes from global meetings leader George P. Johnson. John Capano, senior vice president for George P. Johnson, and his team deployed the use of one such app during the 2015 North American Auto Show to maximize the experience of both attendees and exhibitors. A heat mapping app allowed organizers to see if a car wasn’t getting enough attention and could change the call to action and signage to drive traffic toward the exhibit.
Hotels, venues and planners can use realtime insights provided by software companies like QuickMobile, Social Tables and Event Farm to enable greater efficiency and better customer service. As these measurements become more accurate and accessible in 2016, these key stakeholders can leverage them for enhanced profit gain and customer acquisition.
What Data to Measure?
Event app creator QuickMobile recently published a fascinating white paper that defines data in three segments: technical, behavioral and aggregate. No one segment can stand alone if true ROI is to be measured, but combined they can create a comprehensive and in-depth look at impact.
1. Technical Data
In a nutshell, technical data is the picture you paint to prove that something was used.
One example offered by QuickMobile was a planner’s ability to reference the amount of downloads an event app had compared to the downloads for sign-ups. For example, if 80 percent of attendees downloaded the app and there were more than 1 million page views, this indicates strong usage.
This is high-level information—it doesn’t show why they used the app and why they went to the pages within it, but success on a 40,000-foot level is proven and demonstrates brand exposure for your event owner and vendor partners.
2. Behavioral Data
Interactive digital displays from companies like Poken are a perfect example of attendee behavior that can be measured based on their engagement. Poken is a mobile app that allows people to digitally exchange all their contact details with a touch of a rather odd-looking device. For instance, did planners from Florida only tap planners in the southeastern region of the states? If so, how many, and does it appear there is enough interest to host the next event in that area?
Or, were registered caterers interacting with their fellow caterers or planners more? If the former, would hosting a catering summit that focuses on best practices be wise? Alternatively, did anyone interact with caterers? If not, should marketing resources be targeted toward another arm of the industry that (based on your data of course!) is more popular?
3. Aggregate Data
Achieving a true vision of aggregate data— proof of impact on your business’ bottom line—requires combining technical and behavioral data with your customer relationship management (CRM) or learning management systems (LMS).
Let’s say Social Tables hosted a user conference where we invited 100 customers for a day’s worth of meeting design-focused education. Let’s also say we equipped the audience and the speaker to communicate through Sli.do, where real-time polling and questions can be shared between the presenter and the attendees.
For example, John Smith responded to the poll questions about collaborative room design and then submitted a recommendation in our follow-up TypeForm survey about a time when he collaborated with a catering company in Washington on an innovative meeting layout. It’s a safe bet that he is an engaged client who could be tapped for an advisory board position or as a customer advocate and connector. We track him in our CRM, reach out, thank him, and gauge interest in contributing to our ideas from the two points above.