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Seven Questions to Ask About Your Event
Volunteer boards can play an important role in evaluating the effectiveness of their association events. The following questions — and related ideas — can guide a board’s high-level event evaluation and generate impactful recommendations for the future.

1. Did our event reflect what’s occurring in our industry or profession?

Just as association conferences offer a chance for members to network and celebrate milestones, they are also an opportunity to help members tackle the real challenges they face. For example, if your association membership belongs to a manufacturing sector in which as much as 20 percent of its business is moving to China, it may be helpful to offer attendees government- or trade-focused education opportunities or speakers, or perhaps even Chinese experts.

2. Did our event offer a vision for the future that inspired our members?

Successful events often showcase the newest developments and products. They also offer insightful thought leadership and inspiration that attendees can carry back to their day-to-day lives. The underlying objective is for them to hold a clearer vision of the industry’s future than they did when they arrived.

3. Did our event offer value for our most loyal members?

Some of your most faithful members attend your events every year, so it is important to keep things fresh so as to continue to engender their loyalty. Are you offering new networking, business-building and other opportunities that enhance the experience from year-to-year? Perhaps even more importantly, are the most loyal goers recognized for their loyalty? Informal receptions, a special notation in the event program, or even honorary badge designations can go a long way toward showing the association’s respect and gratitude.

4. Did our event attract new attendees who will come back next year?

First impressions are critical with new attendees. You can impact those positively by creating opportunities like special breakfasts or welcome receptions during which association leaders meet-and-greet new members and first-time attendees. It’s also worthwhile to set up touch-points with individuals during an event to help ensure that new attendees are having a positive experience. This face-to-face interaction presents a tremendous opportunity to learn how new members perceive the association, and to glean important feedback that can be applied to membership strategies and future events. It is also likely to make a powerful impression on new members, hopefully establishing a long-term foundation.

5. Did our event offer a mix of benefits customized for important segments?

Oftentimes, associations must identify the needs of varying segments within an industry or profession. Take, for example, an expo held by a trade association serving the baking industry. Retail bakers are interested in cake decorating and new appliances, while commercial bakers are more interested in production issues and the latest baking technologies. Associations can offer a highly customized event experience by considering the benefits of segmenting and personalization.

6. Did our exhibitors and sponsors find our event valuable enough to return next year?

Board members can play a powerful personal role in reinforcing exhibitor and sponsor relationships. Additional strategies for associations to consider are holding pre-event sponsor orientations; scheduling exhibitor hours to maximize traffic on the show floor; and following up after the event to share key attendance data, elicit feedback and secure future commitments.

7. Did we tell members who did not attend what they missed at the event?

To reach the broader membership, utilize social media and other technology to offer real-time snippets of key speakers, sessions and attendee interviews. Post-event marketing activities also prolong the excitement of the event, give sponsors and exhibitors extra traction, and boost future event attendance.

 

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 EDITION
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for more than 60 years.

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