Why do you need a guide to evaluating events?
It’s imperative that you evaluate the success of your event if you plan on organising future events.
A thorough evaluation of your event will help you understand:
- What worked and what didn’t work
- Whether you met the expectations of your guests
- How well your marketing efforts worked
- If your budget and timeline were realistic
- What you should take extra care with next time
In other words, you will improve as an event planner if you critically review your own performance. It will help you feel more confident and perfect the art of event planning.
Step 1: Use SMART goals
SMART goals is a popular method for measuring your success. Your goals should be specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related (SMART).
The more specific you can get, the more accurately you’ll be able to evaluate your event. A specific goal is also easier to convey to your team.
It’s very useful if you can quantify your success and put a number on it. That number can be ticket sales, money raised, or social media engagement.
Each goal should be assigned to a person or a team. That way, you will know who is ultimately responsible for achieving that specific goal.
Perhaps most importantly, your goals should be realistic. Failure to set realistic goals will only result in the failure of your event as a whole.
Finally, you should specify the time-frame in which you will achieve your goals. That could be months, weeks, or days depending on the size of your event.
Step 2: Compare your event to your competitors
Now that you have established SMART goals, you can begin to look at competing events. Their results will give you an indication of how well you did in comparison.
It’s important to look at events that are as similar to yours as possible. Don’t compare apples with oranges. If your event is a small local music festival, don’t compare it to Glastonbury.
Step 3: Make observations during the event
One of your main tasks during the event itself is to look and listen. Make observations about how well things are going. Are the guests enjoying themselves? Is your team struggling?
Use your phone or a note pad to write down observations on the day. It will help you remember what happened more accurately.
If one bad thing happened on the day, you might forget about all the positive things that happened…or vice versa.
Step 4: Ask guests for feedback on site
Don’t be afraid to ask your guests what they think on the day of the event. You could ask them directly and make a note of their feedback.
But a more fun way to get feedback on the day is to make it part of the event. You could, for example, offer guests a swag bag if they leave their feedback on your event app.
You can also make it interactive by setting up two dustbins by the exit. Ask your guests to dump their rubbish in one of them if they liked the event or the other if they didn’t like it.
Step 5: Send feedback surveys after the event
It’s important to collect as much feedback data as possible. That’s why we recommend that you not only collect feedback on the day but also afterwards.
There are a number of online survey tools (like Survey Monkey) you can use for that purpose. They will make it quick and easy to create a feedback form.
Alternatively, you can also create your own feedback form and send to your guests. Thank them for attending and explain why their feedback is important to you.
Then ask your guests to rate each part of the event from 1–5 or 1–10:
- The event as a whole
- Venue and facilities
- Food and drinks
- Speakers and entertainers
- How likely they are to recommend the event
You should also leave some space for the guests to write additional comments.
Tip: For examples of event feedback questions, take a look at this guide.
Step 6: Collect press clippings and media mentions
If you’ve done a proper media outreach, you can expect some mentions in the press.
A good way to keep track of media mentions is to set up a Google Alert with your event name.
You should also keep track of social media mentions, as these are likely to be more numerous.
Step 7: Look at social media engagement
Every social media platform will have an insights tool that gives you valuable data.
You can use these tools to calculate your:
However, the likelihood is that you’ll be on several different platforms. Fortunately, you can use a social media monitoring tool like Hootsuite to aggregate all the data.
The numbers will only tell part of the story, of course.
You might be interested in the specific things people say about your event on social media. For that purpose, you should use a tool like Spezify.
Step 8: Tally up how many people attended
Social media mentions are nice, but real heads at your event are better. You should have a ticketing system that allows you to count attendance.
A good ticketing platform will also tell you:
- How your guests found out about your event
- The preferred payment method of your guests
- How and when they checked in
It should also be able to tell you how many people registered but didn’t show up. That way, you can follow up with the no-shows individually.
Step 9: Look at your event budget
It’s all about the money. In most cases, at least.
You will already have worked out a budget prior to the event. Now it’s time to see how well you stuck to it (and if you made a profit).
Add up all your expenses related to the venue, equipment, catering, and so on. Then calculate how much money you made from the ticket sales.
Subtract expenses from revenue…and voila!
You should also make a note of any special deals you struck with the vendors. If you didn’t, then see if there is anything you can do to strike a deal for the next event.
Step 10: Hold a debriefing with your event team
Your guests and event sponsors are not the only opinions you should care about. Remember to listen to your event team as well.
It’s always a good idea to hold a debrief meeting after the dust has settled. Ask everyone what they felt went well and what could run smoother next time.
You should also get some statements from any speakers or entertainers you had at the event. They might make for good social media quotes.
Now you know why you need a guide to evaluating events. There’s a lot to think about!
To recap, here is what you need to do:
- Use SMART goals
- Compare your event to relevant competitors
- Make observations during the event
- Ask for feedback from your guests on the day
- Follow up with a feedback survey
- Look out for media mentions
- Analyse social media data
- Calculate how many people attended
- Add up the numbers on your event budget
- Get feedback from your team
Tick all those boxes, and you will have a detailed analysis of how well your event did.
Good luck with the event evaluation!