inPERSPECTIVE / EVENT MANAGEMENT

Wrapping Things Up
>> Post-Event Evaluation Critical for Long-Term Success

By Ellie Ziegler & Peter Titlebaum, Ed.D.

Events like the NIRSA Region I Flag Football Championship, Little League World Series or even your annual Super Bowl Party all have one thing in common: people getting excited and looking forward to an event in the future.

When you purchase tickets to attend an event, you start to imagine what it will be like when you attend. If it is a place you have never been to, you might think about what the venue will look like and how you will get there. If it is an award show or sports-related event, you might wonder who will win.

But how many people ever take a moment to think about who is putting on that event they get to enjoy? How many hours of preparation it takes? What is the budget? How many volunteers are required? Probably not many.

For event owners, that excitement that attendees feel when they arrive at an event is exactly how they feel, but even more. Their blood, sweat and tears went into every little detail in order to ensure that attendees have a fantastic time. They want to ensure folks will want to see the event come back to that city and venue. While attendees are having a good time, the event owner's goal is to control the experience as much as humanly possible so everyone will want to come back again.

It can be easy for event owners to simply pack everything up and shift their focus to their next event. This is a mistake that many event owners often make. It is imperative that event owners shift their focus toward one thing: post-event evaluation.

The Value of Information

A post-event evaluation is often a hidden gem of information when it comes to putting on events. It is valuable to ask the hard questions in order to get to the root of how the consumer, or event attendee, feels about what you've provided them. Armed with the right questions and analysis, post-event evaluation can provide useful information when it comes to making decisions about budgeting, staffing and retaining events.

Cities and venues are always bidding to attract new events. However, it is easier for a city to keep an event it has already hosted because event attendees have already seen the city's attention to detail and how important the event owner's business means to them. A big goal that cities focus on is being able to host the same event year after year. Post-event evaluation can help cities retain business moving forward. Gaining new insight about how event attendees felt about the event helps cities improve the event each year and make the event an even more memorable experience than the previous year.

It can be easy to neglect the wealth of information that can be gained from conducting research to gather post-event data. Event attendees do not always get the opportunity to share their opinions on what they liked or disliked. Event owners need to find out what aspects of the event need improvement or what was successful that needs to be continued. Post-event evaluation can reveal this information along with allowing event attendees to share whether or not they would attend the event again or any comments they would like to share about their experiences. If event attendees have an outlet to share this information, event owners can get data to analyze and use to help them make decisions during the next pre-event planning process.

Event owners strive to exceed the expectations and the needs of everyone who is attending their events, so if there is a specific way they can obtain information that can help them achieve those goals, they should pursue that opportunity.

Getting Feedback

All events need to provide participants with an outlet to share their opinion on how the event went. What did they like best, and what could have been better? What services were missing, and would that improve the event experience?

One way to encourage event attendees to share their opinion on their experience is to include a prize or reward for filling out a post-event survey or form in which they share their thoughts.

Feedback information can assist when making decisions regarding budgeting, staffing and the overall event experience. If an event organizer sends out a post-event survey to attendees and finds that participants were dissatisfied with a specific area of the event, they might conclude that more attention is required in that area or additional staffing was required. Each question in the post-event survey can explain how well the event was perceived, conducted and experienced. Each question should be analyzed to see where the event excelled or fell short of meeting both the client's and consumer's needs.

Understanding the Data

All event surveys could analyze data collected about the performance in the following categories (if appropriate):

>> Connections to local companies.

>> Local company contributions (in terms of recommending and facilitating sponsorship).

>> Securing local funding (county or city) or state grants.

>> Venue recommendations and site visits.

>> Supporting local ticket sales.

>> Advertising strategies (street pole banners, bus stop signage, etc.).

>> Results of media relations.

>> Providing lodging and amenities for event staff.

>> Secure venues for ancillary events.

>> List of restaurants, attractions and itineraries.

>> Letters and speakers from local dignitaries and organizations.

>> Ability to provide social media promotion for the event.

The benefit event holders can gain from post-event evaluation is ensuring that their clients are aware of all of the services that they have to offer. Not all clients may be aware of the services offered and could appreciate having certain pre-event and event-day responsibilities taken care of for them.

Event companies have a network of contacts or board members who can provide a variety of services. If they are able to put their clients' minds at ease and take charge of executing certain aspects of their event, whether it is during the actual event or leading up to it, this will help increase event retention and overall client satisfaction.

A variety of services that event companies provide that may go unnoticed by event owners include:

>> Volunteer programs.

>> Social media strategies.

>> Public relations (curation of media relations).

>> VIP programs.

>> Concierge programs (information booths).

>> Organization of press releases or press conferences.

>> Conducting economic impact studies.

>> Relationships/connections with local vendors.

Know What You Have to Offer

Event owners have a variety of factors to evaluate when considering whether or not they would like to bring an event to a specific city. Event owners must carefully analyze a variety of other amenities and unique qualities that cities have to offer.

Event managers need to consider the following amenities when choosing the perfect city to host their event:

>> Accessibility to various forms of transportation, including local travel and air travel, from the main venue.

>> Proximity of restaurants to the main venue.

>> Proximity of tourist attractions and sight-seeing opportunities to the main venue.

>> Proximity of the main venue to other venues for ancillary events.

>> Proximity of the headquarters hotel or lodging to the main venue.

Post-event evaluation can benefit event owners in a variety of ways. It is shortsighted for event owners to move on to their next event without the insight they can gain from analyzing the event they just executed. The value of the information is having the power to make better decisions down the road. It can help you keep events coming back, but more importantly, can help improve your events in the future. Take the time to gain feedback and it will help make your events even better down the road. RM



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ellie Ziegler is a recent graduate from the University of Dayton with a bachelor's degree in Sport Management accompanied by a minor in business administration. She has an interest in pursuing a career within marketing. Peter Titlebaum, Ed.D, is a professor at the University of Dayton. His areas of expertise include marketing, sales, fundraising, activation, return on investment and return of objective strategies. He is a frequent speaker with more than 200 presentations and 150 publications to his credit.



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