Improve future event experience through reflection

Event organisers know that work doesn’t suddenly halt after the last delegate leaves the venue. Instead, it’s a golden opportunity for honest analysis, to build on legacy aspirations and to improve the event experience for next time.

National business development manager of Arinex Jessica Ferguson shares the top four things to build into your planning when wrapping up an event.

large conference room with colourful blue and pink lighting from the ceiling. in the foreground is a couch with people sat down and in the background is many people standing and talking

Time for reflection

Sit down for an in-depth debrief. Involve as many stakeholders as possible, including sponsors, venue representatives and volunteers, to ensure a variety of feedback. Ask yourself what worked well and equally important, what didn’t. What were the challenges, any improvements for next time and whether everyone’s skillset and knowledge were used to maximise results.

In the lead-up and throughout the event, take notes and observations to bring to the debrief. These notes, along with further analysis, recommendations and a summary of the event planning process, should be provided in a detailed post-conference report from your partner professional conference organiser (PCO).

Develop a 365-day communication plan

Effective event marketing doesn’t start in the lead-up to an event and culminate once it finishes. Ongoing communication should last year-round. Post-event communications should be part of a wider, ongoing marketing strategy to keep delegates feeling invested, foster brand loyalty and track the progress of impactful event legacy initiatives. It’s also a chance to gather valuable feedback and insights to improve future events.

Roughly 100 people sat in theatre style chairs listening to Jessica Fergusons lecture. Lighting is dark blue.

Ramp up the event revenue strategy

The end of an event is the ideal time to start building or ramping up an event revenue strategy for the next one. Existing and former commercial partners are key for a successful sponsorship and exhibition acquisition strategy, so maintaining and nurturing those relationships is essential. Towards the end of an event, start discussions about their involvement in the next one to maximise returns year-on-year.

To build a group of loyal delegates, start by drip-feeding teasers about the next event. For all event revenue strategies, partner with a PCO that can provide live analytics of event metrics throughout the event journey, such as registrations, sponsorship and exhibition sales and marketing activities, to easily track and maximise peak revenue opportunities.

Measure the event legacy

Post-event is the time to measure and assess the legacy objectives set at the outset of planning. If you didn’t set any, then set some for your next event. Legacy may seem difficult to encapsulate, so setting measurable goals is a must. For example, for gender equity, consider setting 49-49-2 targets for your speaker line-up or organising committee representation. Social and environmental impacts can also be assessed with tangible goals.

For example, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) 2018 Conference committee aligned its objective to host an environmentally sound event. It chose the carbon calculation and purchase of credits to achieve a carbon-neutral outcome at zero financial cost to delegates, and waste reduction initiatives that led to a 70% reduction in printed materials on-site. These measurable goals helped convey the legacy story for EIANZ and brought all attendees and stakeholders on the event journey.

Other legacy objectives could relate to social outcomes, industry collaborations and research breakthroughs.

In the foreground sits 4 people listening and clapping to someone in the distance, they are sat at a table with notepads in front. In the background are more people blurred out.

Capture the outcome successfully

As the last delegate leaves the building, rather than rest on your laurels, plan ahead while ideas are fresh in your mind and consider firming up plans for your next event. It’s just a matter of identifying these opportunities and putting structures in place to capture the outcome successfully.