Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Under the R......

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “What is my ROI?”. Event planners most often use it during conversations with sponsors who want to know, if they spend X amount of dollars, what will be their ROI or “Return on Investment”? They want to know what they will get in return for their sponsorship. Everyone has a different expectation of the potential ROI. For some sponsors it is exposure, having their name linked to a great cause/event, and for others it is the opportunity to grow their market: attract more customers, reach further into the marketplace, launch a new product/division. Sponsors are an integral part of any event and it is really important that planners extensively research what they can provide for their sponsors in return for financial or in kind support.

But what about the attendees? Is the same amount of research being done to determine what the attendees want in return for their registration dollars? If it isn’t…..then it should be.

Attendees not only pay a registration fee, they invest in travel costs, hotel accommodations and most importantly, the time commitment. Company management needs to know that money is being spent wisely. Registration is often delayed until organizations can see a complete agenda, which will give them a good idea of the content. A weak agenda normally equals slow registration.

How many of you have gone to an event as an attendee and been disappointed? I have been to events where the registration fee is small and the event was fabulous….exceeding my expectation. I have also been to events where my registration was insanely expensive and I have been sorely disappointed. Where is the balance? What are attendees expecting?

Events have different components that contribute to perceived value. Even weddings and large family parties have a perceived value. How many times have you heard someone say something to the affect of, “We traveled all the way to Saskatoon for that wedding, bought an expensive present and we didn’t even get a decent meal”. Obviously, they did not get the value that they felt was owed them in exchange for the long distance drive and the expensive gift.

More and more organizations are asking the question, “Why should I register for Conference A instead of Conference B? Which conference will provide me the most value for my dollar?”. Attendees are very savvy and will not return to an event where they were disappointed. You only get one chance to make an impact, an impression on them before they decide to forgo your event for another.

How can you ensure that your attendees are receiving value for their financial, emotional and time investment?

Survey your audience. Surveys and polls are a valuable tool in determining what your attendees are looking for. A survey sent out to previous conference attendees can help identify needs and pinpoint gaps in content.

Your survey should be no longer than 10 questions and thoughtfully constructed so that essay type responses are not necessary. Surveys sent via email or posted on your website work the best in this instance. Survey Monkey remains the most popular survey site and the basic (free) plan allows you to collect up to 100 responses per survey.

Use the survey results to help guide you in the planning process. By engaging the potential attendee in advance, you are demonstrating that they are important and that you value their opinion, setting the tone for a great relationship.


No comments: