Determining the value of meetings is a hot topic.
In April, there were at least three webinars hosted by industry publications or associations on event ROI (Return on Investment), and in July, MPI is offering a two-day, in-depth ROI workshop at their World Education Conference (WEC), in Vancouver.
During WEC, MPI is also promoting an educational track called VOM – “The Value of Meetings.”
Through MPI, Mary Boone has released a white paper called, “The Case for Meetings and Events; Four Elements of Strategic Value” that shows planners how to better design their events as a portfolio (rather than just as individual meetings), to improve the effectiveness of their events and demonstrate the value to their clients or senior management.
One thing that these presenters and authors agree on is the need to decide what information you need to measure and how to collect it before you design your event.
For example, to measure behavioural change that was a direct result of your event, you will need to survey attendees before and after the event (or perhaps compare the post-event behaviour of the group who attended versus a ‘control’ group that did not attend), to see what behavioural alteration has taken place.
You need at least two points in time where you measure the chosen activity to determine how much your event changed attendees’ behaviour. That information is then converted into empirical data that can be used to statistically demonstrate the value.
With the statistics you collected, you can determine the business value of your event.
This may be a benefits-cost ratio (i.e. sold an extra $100,000 worth of goods vs. a $50,000 meeting budget) or a genuine Return on Investment percentage.
Note that this is not just a budget report or a cost savings report!
• Determine why your event is being held and what result you want to achieve;
• Decide how you will measure the results before you design your event;
• Measure and then turn your information into empirical data;
• Use your data to determine the benefit of your event or the ROI;
• Present your findings to your management or clients;
• Suggest changes in event design, if your data indicates that would be beneficial.
This approach will show your employer or client that you are the meetings expert focused on maximizing the value of your events, rather than just a ‘party planner.’
And be proactive – don’t wait until management or clients are demanding this approach or you will not be seen as a strategic resource.