MarkCooper_CMW_94

Essential measurements

International Association of Conference Centres’ CEO Mark Cooper discusses some essential elements for measuring the meeting experience.

Food and wellness-based trends can be fleeting by nature; however we’re seeing an unprecedented increase and they may be here to stay.

In IACC’s recent Meeting Room of the Future report we found that 57% of venue operators said “experience creation” was an important part of their role, and set to become increasingly important over the next five years.

Experience creation includes many elements, from the types of activities planned, food and beverage served and layout of the venue, to the style of presentations, décor and event format.

However, if experience creation is the goal, how do we measure success?

Mike Van Der Vijver of Mind Meetings, said in the report: “Start by asking, what is the objective of the meeting?”, adding: “When people leave the event and go back to their jobs, what do you want them to do differently?”

If you want to measure your meeting experience, you must include measurable elements, such as goals to be accomplished. Communicating the expected goals in advance helps set the stage and prepares delegates. 

Consider these important factors, to truly measure the success of your event.

Planning the elements
If a measure of a networking meeting is how many meaningful conversations delegates have, help them succeed by:

• Creating multiple opportunities to mix and mingle

• Creating conversation starters

• Include icebreakers that warm up the attendees, such as a group activity

Measuring objectives
If an event’s objective is to increase sales, measuring the ROI is straightforward. Measurement is more challenging when the goal is education, or behavioural change. How do you measure these, and what level of change or participation is considered an acceptable outcome?

Van Der Vijver again: “People don’t change their behaviours easily, so you may have to change yours. Think about how you structure the meeting and what you want attendees to get out of it.”

If you want an action performed, make it possible for the attendees to do it right at the meeting rather than waiting until later, and this will produce instantly measurable outcomes.

Our report also highlighted that measuring outcomes is not the same as measuring satisfaction. Knowing whether a speaker was good or not doesn’t tell you whether the meeting met its goals. You can ask people of their intentions to take action, but true insight comes in measuring whether they actually do.

Designing a meeting with memorable moments often means doing something different. “Engaging meetings often have an unexpected element,” Dianne Devitt, founder of The DND Group, Inc and adjunct professor at NYU, said in our report. And sometimes the aim can be immediate results. “Sessions require participants to come prepared to contribute,” she said. “Make sure you set up the expectations and goals in advance to ensure success during the event.”

Don’t leave parts of the meeting unplanned was another piece of advice. “Even unscripted elements like group input for topics, impromptu presentations and brainstorming sessions require structure to keep the meeting on topic,” said Devitt.

Follow-up
To really understand the ROI of a meeting, you have to measure outcomes after the event. Did people actually follow-up with the new programme? Who implemented the training? How many signed up on the website? Did participation or sales increase? Getting real data is essential for measuring the result.

The bottom line
Measurable meetings have smart objectives built in. Design your meeting around your objectives, whether that means a learning outcome, a networking outcome, or just creating a memorable event with happy attendees who share their experience with others.

Read Mark Cooper’s column in issue 95 of CMW, here: http://joom.ag/TnUY/p36

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