R.O.I.—or return on investment—is a major component of event planning. It can influence many factors, such as selecting venues and speakers and more than 90% of event planners say they measure R.O.I. in some way. However, only 11% say they measure it well and nearly 40 percent said they measure it, “not very well, we measure a few things.” Common challenges for event planners include knowing what exact metrics to measure, and how to effectively analyze the data afterward.
Overall, while it certainly sounds like most event planners know that R.O.I. is at least somewhat important, many are still struggling to measure and use it effectively. That struggle starts with event planners not knowing enough or having several misconceptions about what R.O.I. is itself.
No matter your relationship with R.O.I., check out some common myths about it and how you can better measure R.O.I. for your organization. (Plus, download our infographic here!)
Myth 1: Surveys are the best way to measure R.O.I.Fact: More than 60% of event planners say they use attendee satisfaction to measure R.O.I. This is problematic because tools such as surveys and spreadsheets can be unreliable when it comes to actual measurement. Think about it this way—you might achieve a 95% attendee satisfaction rating, but what does that really mean for your event? How does that metric help you improve future events? Relying on soft metrics like attendee feedback are too limiting and don’t go deep enough to give the visibility you need. To find the right metrics, try building on your organization’s existing CRM platform, as that’s likely to be where the most consolidated data about your attendee or client base is located. To be successful, you will need both multiple touch points and measurement methods.
Myth 2: R.O.I. is a single measurement or set of numbersFact: Just like how soft metrics aren’t enough, relying on a single data measurement for accurate R.O.I. isn’t enough either. When it comes to R.O.I., a holistic strategy is needed because it isn’t one single number or definition. If you focus too intently on a single aspect of your event, like total revenue, you’ll miss seeing the big picture. When starting or reevaluating the R.O.I. process, aim to identify and define three key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most important to your event or organization. Examples include booth traffic, sales leads, attendee demographics or media/press coverage. They may be different depending on what type of events you organize, so it’s important to include all stakeholders when deciding on your KPIs. Next step is to calculate how you’re going to measure your KPIs, and then determine the best way to apply those findings to improving your strategic management protocols.
Myth 3: Measuring R.O.I. results is a quick processFact: Once you select your KPIs and develop a plan to measure them, remember that it will take time to fully understand your results. Examining initial R.O.I. data over two years time is ideal. Taking the proper time to lay down the groundwork is equally important. Utilize online webinar, whitepaper, and educational tools to advance the training necessary to interpret the results you compile. By having this kind of education online and on-demand, your interpretive skills can adapt along with your organization’s changing needs. Meeting-planning resources contain valuable information, strategies, and resources for education-related communication and protocol at the organizational level.
Myth 4: Budget related metrics are the best R.O.I. KPIsFact: Six out of 10 planners say they measure event R.O.I. by comparing the project budget to the actual budget. While this might sound like a useful metric, here’s the problem: approximately 8% of respondents say they regularly come in over budget, and three-quarters of respondents say they come in over budget at least occasionally. The items that trip planners up in their budgeting aren’t the unexpected expenses—they’re items that can and should be planned for in advance. This situation reveals a dramatic shortfall in the application of successful strategic meeting management. Standardize your RFP and contracting processes to reduce surprise costs to visualize leads and bids in real time. Track spending and areas for improvement, and build a financial buffer into your budgets in order to improve flexibility and get a better handle on where your budget trouble spots tend to be.
Myth 5: You can’t measure marketing R.O.I.Fact: R.O.I. measurement isn’t just for event logistics and management processes. Though about half of survey respondents said marketing, promotion, and branding is the most challenging category of event spending to quantify, it isn’t impossible. As any planner knows, your event’s impact goes far beyond the door of the ballroom or trade show floor. Any robust measure of R.O.I. must look beyond on-site metrics to incorporate marketing support. To do this, use online analytics tools for visibility on the rates of email marketing campaign, responses, and conversions. Develop website branding that allows for link tracking and robust measurement with Google’s analytical tools, and use a social media platform manager like Hootsuite to integrate web and social activity.
Bottom line, R.O.I. is an important, yet challenging priority for event planners. Taking the time to educate you and your team about R.O.I. and what it means for your organization can make all the difference in the process. Finding the right strategic management program to deliver a complete R.O.I. picture will greatly improve the success of future events.