From Venue Selection to Speakers, Use Pre-Event Surveys to Plan Your Next Conference

By the Editors

If you’ve ever attended a conference, chances are you’ve probably been asked to complete a survey about your experience. Many event planners use post-event surveys to gather feedback about everything from content and speakers to session length, venue, and lunch menu. While post-event surveys can provide some valuable information, pre-event surveys allow you to take a more proactive approach to conference planning. Here’s how you can use pre-event surveys to plan highly successful conferences.

Content and speakers

Let’s say you’re planning an event and you’ve invited a number of speakers to give talks. Attendees have begun signing up for sessions and you’ve noticed a potentially embarrassing trend – one of the speakers you’ve invited only has two people signed up for their talk. Your attendees seem to be more interested in the content of the other five sessions. A pre-event survey can help you avoid this unfortunate scenario. Consider distributing a mobile survey with specific questions related to speakers and content. Ask attendees specific questions about which speakers they’d be interested in seeing, what topics they would like to see addressed, and what content is most important to them. The feedback you gather will allow you to take a more proactive approach to inviting speakers and planning sessions.

Important features

If you think back to the events you’ve attended in the past, chances are certain ones were better than others. Maybe the sessions were more interactive and exciting, the venues set the right tone for the events, or the menus were absolutely incredible. Pre-event surveys can be used to inform the structure of your next event. Consider launching a mobile survey to find out more about how to structure your sessions more effectively, which geographic locations and venues would be the best fit, and what your audience would like to see on the lunch or dinner menu. Gathering feedback and planning accordingly can increase the likelihood that your upcoming event will be a hit with your attendees.

Track marketing success

There’s one major problem with asking your attendees how they heard about your conference on a post-event survey: so much time has elapsed that they may not remember. If they can’t remember, they’re likely to just skip the question or provide you with their best guess answer. In either case, the feedback you get may not help you focus your marketing efforts for your next event. You’ll either be flying blind or worse, potentially investing your marketing dollars in the wrong places.

A pre-event survey can help you track your marketing successes ahead of your conference. Consider launching a mobile survey to collect real-time feedback. You’ll be able to get a more accurate idea of how your attendees heard about your event because they’ll be more likely to remember. You can use the data you gather to quickly shift your marketing strategy accordingly. For example, if a blog post about the event on a particular website resulted in several sign ups, you may want to write a follow-up or consider buying advertising space on that site to maximize your return. Mobile surveys can provide you with the fast feedback you need to make quick decisions about your conference marketing efforts.

If you’re an event planner who’s thinking about your next conference, consider using pre-event surveys to help guide your planning efforts. The data you collect can help you tailor your event so that it aligns with your target audience’s wants and needs in terms of content, speakers, and features. SSI’s integrated sampling, survey, and analysis platform can help you gather real-time feedback for your next conference. Contact us today to get started!