Breaking Down Event Data

As traditional event surveys hold less weight with some meeting planners, new ways to track guest insights are gaining momentum

Data has long been the cornerstone of building better events. But with a wider range of data types and collection methods now available, figuring out what information is worth capturing—and how to leverage it—can be overwhelming. 

Historically, pre- or post-event surveys supplied the core of meeting data. No longer: About 61 percent of event marketers are now turning to at-event data collection methods, according to the 2019 Measurement Benchmarking Report. That’s in contrast to the same report in 2018, which found that 60 percent of respondents rely on pre- and post-meeting attendee surveys.

Although surveys offer a good way to gauge attendees’ thoughts and experiences, they aren’t the only option. Monitoring social media to see what guests are saying in real time, for instance, might breed different responses than a survey that is sent two weeks after participants have gone home, when key insights are tougher to recall. 

Still, the data strategies of each meeting will vary depending on the event’s purpose. Not sure what that means for your meeting? Check out the timeline below that suggests some common data-collection methods and when to implement them. (This list is not conclusive, and some strategies can—and should!—be applied throughout the event life cycle.)

Pre-Event 

  • Registration software: How many people registered prior to the day of the event, and when? Which attendance packages were most popular?
  • Promotional code usage: Did attendees register as part of a special promotion? What does this say about their spending habits and what they are willing to pay for future events?
  • Email communications: How many potential attendees are opening and engaging with your emails? 
  • Pre-event surveys: What do attendees expect from my event?

During the Event

  • Meeting app downloads: How many people downloaded your meeting app?  
  • Session tracking technology: Which sessions were most popular, and which need improvement? What time did attendees arrive and leave? 
  • Registration software: How many attendees were walk-ins?
  • Social media: What are people saying about the event in real time? Which guests are sharing, and is there user-generated content that can be used in future marketing initiatives? 

Post-Event

  • Post-event surveys: What were attendees’ impressions of the meeting? Did it meet expectations, and what can be improved in future events?
  • Content downloads: If you made session information or presentations available online, how many people downloaded these resources?