Meeting and event planners today may not yet be familiar with the phrase
"event intelligence," but once they learn the concept, they'll know it's something that will significantly increase success, improve event ROI, drive profitability, as well as help with attendee engagement.
Based in our Norwalk Headquarters, Steve Yellen, VP of Product Strategy, and Sue Benz, Senior Product Manager, work daily with customers and industry leaders to understand the market’s needs and ensure that the industry receives the intelligence necessary to serve their customer’s needs.
In this interview, Steve and Sue define event intelligence, discuss what it is and how meeting and event planners can use event intelligence to improve their events and increase profitability.
Event Intelligence Q&A
Q: What exactly is event intelligence?
Steve: “Event intelligence is information about attendees that adds value to the organizers of an event, and that information can take many forms depending on the type of event. It's the information about what your attendees do that align with your objectives and help you achieve those objectives that give you information to make yourself better towards achieving those objectives in the future.
This information is collected through today's top event technology. Aventri’s Event Intelligence Solution, for example, combines cutting-edge event technology and services to capture onsite data that generates a clear picture of attendee behavior and engagement analytics. Through detailed reporting and integrations with CRM and MAS platforms event planners are now able to track event performance and enrich buyer data in real-time."
Sue: “The information it can collect can also be attendee focused. So, we provide information to the attendees about their event, their event journey, for example, the contacts that they made during the event, which sessions they went to, how long they spent in sessions.”
Q: What is the value of event intelligence for meeting and event planners?
Steve: “It really depends on the type of event, and what I’ve seen is that there are at least three classifications of these events. One is internal for your employees, like for sales or training. The second is an external event for your customers, like a user conference. And third is an external event where you have customers, as well as third-party sponsors.
While it's different for each of these events, an essential KPI everybody typically has is how valuable their individual sessions are, i.e., how many people attend them, how long do they stay, do they find value in them, etc. If it’s an external event, you may want to know what your customers and prospects are interested in and what were they're not interested in. When you add sponsors to the equation, you can then tell sponsors more about who your regular attendees are and who are the more valuable attendees."
Sue: “On a granular level, the value is being able to look at which sessions were successful and even deciding how long should a session run. An event organizer can actually see, for example, that the shorter sessions are the most popular, and that maybe it’s the content that makes those sessions more popular. But it really depends on the event organizer’s type of event and what they want to get out of it."
Q: What is the most popular type of event intelligence planners are looking for?
Steve: “Probably the most common measurement planners want is attendance. Who showed up? Who showed up to my event? Who showed up to my sessions? And that can be either through registration or for attendees that actually physically showed up, both of which carry a lot of value. Another area of focus is engagement. Planners are wondering not only if people are coming to their events but how long did they attend. Did they stay for one day, two days, three days? They attended sessions, but did they stay five minutes, 50 minutes, or the whole session? And if they have sponsored booths or stations, did they come to those stations?
For the latter, lead retrieval is traditionally used to measure attendance at a booth. A key difference with event intelligence is that it can not only be used to tell you who stopped by a booth, but it can tell you if an attendee came by for a minute to pick up a free trinket or if they came for 45 minutes and saw a demo or spoke to an exhibitor. That’s a huge difference that event intelligence can give you when you get more mature about using it."
Q: How can event intelligence be used before, during, and after an event?
Steve: “The way planners are actually going to make the most out of event intelligence is after the event and before the next one, whether it's a series of seminars, an annual user conference, or an annual sales meeting or training. Event intelligence not only lets you capture what happened, but it also allows planners to analyze the data, learn from it, and then plan more successful events in the future. It’s that constant revision, that constant iteration where really event intelligence comes into play. Without it, you start planning your next event no smarter than you did this current one. Having that intelligence at your fingertips lets you make decisions to make that next event better. And really that’s ultimately what we are striving for is to do the same job over and over again and get better every time we do it."
Sue: “Before the event, planners are probably thinking about what they want to get out of it. During the event, planners can get an idea of what is going on in real-time and how the event is shaping up with event intelligence. They can actually see the flow of the event floor, for example, and then they can take that information afterward and makes positive changes based on that for future events.”
Q: How can event intelligence data be used to rethink the attendee journey?
Steve: “One example that comes to mind is during an event, you can offer attendees suggestions for the second half of the day based on what they have done in the first half. You can actually make the experience better for attendees by capturing that intelligence in real time, making decisions, and then providing suggestions. And that does a number of things; not only does it make it a better experience, but it also improves the interactivity which has been shown to make people more engaged."
Sue: “You can think of known metrics of analytics of what someone does online, for example, you can have information about a user by what they say, but this actual information about what they have done.”
Q: How can planners leverage event intelligence to help them achieve their event goals?
Steve: “It’s a catch 22 because the way you would use event intelligence depends on your individual goals. When we engage with a prospect or somebody that is using our event intelligence solutions, the first question we ask them is what type of event are you running, what are your goals, and what would you like to learn about the people that are there? Based on that, we determine what technologies and what types of intelligence they need to achieve that. There are a number of different technologies like RFID, Bluetooth, NFC, but that's irrelevant. What's really relevant is what an event organizer wants to achieve and how they can use the intelligence they gleam at an event to achieve those goals. And that’s really what we try to be specialists at."
Q: How does event intelligence help drive profitability?
Steve: “It all comes back to the goals. If you think about an internal event, for example, the reason you bring the sales team to train them is to make them more productive when they leave. You are spending a lot of money to get them together, and you want to make sure that the people that attend the sessions that they are supposed to attend and understand the value out of those sessions. Event intelligence allows you to do this by telling planners who does what and knowing how they felt about those sessions.
For companies bringing in prospects or customers, like a user conference, you really want to know what they are interested in so you know what solutions to sell them going forward. For example, planners can see where individual attendees went, like to a session about artificial intelligence, for example, and sell to them based on that behavior.”
Sue: “I think that driving engagement is key. And by having that window into what the attendees were really engaged in, having that barometer so to speak, because an engaged attendee is more likely to come back and an engaging agenda is more likely to draw a successful event.”
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add on event intelligence? Anything else our audience should know?
Steve: “It's important to remember that the path to realizing event intelligence is also a journey. It’s not just a switch that you flip on, and then you have it. Some people today are not capturing any information about what people do at events, what they register for, what they attend and sometimes just starting with that is a good start.
Also when it comes to event intelligence solutions, there's no one size fits all, and there's no right or wrong. I recommend talking directly to an event intelligence provider, like Aventri, about your specific needs. We are trying to understand your goals and then help you achieve your goals with all the different things we can offer.”