Big data is big news for most industries these days—even, or perhaps especially, for meeting professionals. You can use the data you generate to measure how well your event is performing against your organization’s goals and objectives, and to help drive improvements for future events. You also can use it to show your stakeholders measurable returns on their investments of time, money, and effort.

As veteran event producer Tahira Endean, CMP, said in a recent MeetingsNet webinar, “You don’t have to use it all, but you do want to set your objectives and measurements concurrently—and get ready to deliver more than is expected.”

Here are six key groups who will want you to show them the data:

1. Attendees. They want the promise you made—an event that will educate, motivate, inspire, and connect them—to be realized, said Endean and her co-presenter Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA, president, Meeting Change, and one of MeetingNet's 2015 Changemakers. It’s vital to measure what success looks like from the participants’ perspective. That’s what will inform their decision to come back next year or, in the case of an internal meeting, motivate them to do more.

2. Speakers. Those who present at your events are seeking validation that their messages were heard and that they got optimal exposure—and perhaps even a list of leads for an upcoming book launch. Whether they’re professional speakers, corporate big wigs, trainers, product managers, or other purveyors of knowledge and expertise, “They are the heart of your programming, so you want to measure the response from the participants and share this with them,” said Endean.

3. Sponsors. These stakeholders “demand a visible ROI, including a deeper awareness from the audience of who they are and how they fit their needs,” Endean and McIlwraith said. Transparency is not optional anymore. While sponsors in the traditional sense may not be a factor at every event, even those looking to increase awareness of their brand or products will want a way to gauge success.

4. Exhibitors. “Not every event will have exhibitors,” said McIlwraith. “But when it does, they too will expect to see a return on their investment. The more data points you can give them, the more likely they will be to renew and upgrade for next year.” 

5. Meeting owners. Whoever the owner of your event is—the head of sales or marketing, a training executive, or perhaps even the CEO—you need to know what they are looking for. “How are they measuring success? How can app data satisfy their critical eye?” asked the presenters.

6. You. The event or meeting planner’s definition of success often is closely aligned with that of the meeting owner, but there are subtle differences, they said. “You likely pay attention to the smaller, less visible details. Or perhaps you pay attention to the less measurable sentiment-based responses from your attendees. Either way, you matter too, and there should be data to help you determine your biggest successes and areas to adjust.”

Related Article: How Do Your Meetings Measure Up?

Both hard data and anecdotal data are ubiquitous—you just have to listen for it, said Endean and McIlwraith. Listen during the planning phase and listen after your event. Tell stakeholders you listened by thanking them for their feedback, and then including what you learned in your next program.

As Endean said, “The data is out there—use it!”

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