Why your post event sur­vey is a sham – Part 3

Di­rec­tor of Con­fer­ence Fo­cus, Max Turpin is shar­ing his in­sights on a range of top­ics with a reg­u­lar col­umn in BEN. Top­ics in­clude new gen­er­a­tion events and mak­ing events ef­fec­tive and valu­able.

Business Events News - - News -

MY THIRD and fi­nal in­stal­ment ex­plain­ing why event sur­vey re­sults are largely cor­rupt, phoney and mis­lead­ing in­cludes another ex­am­ple of a post event sur­vey.

Most im­por­tantly too, I ex­plain why all of this is so dam­ag­ing and detri­men­tal to our in­dus­try.

In early June this year on the Gold Coast, Des­ti­na­tion Gold Coast hosted their an­nual “This is Gold Coast” Busi­ness Ex­change. Post event, it was re­ported, and I quote, “This is Gold Coast gets 100% ap­proval rat­ing from buy­ers.” And, “The event clearly hit the mark with hosted buy­ers, with a 100% sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing.” And so os­ten­si­bly, the event was a mag­nif­i­cent suc­cess. But was it?

Firstly, if you’re only judg­ing suc­cess by rat­ing lev­els of sat­is­fac­tion – ie. the typ­i­cal ‘happy sheet’ rat­ing method of ask­ing, es­sen­tially, “Were you happy?” – then sure, the event was a suc­cess.

But how does that re­late to busi­ness re­sults and bot­tom line im­pact? Why should sup­pli­ers and ex­hibitors care about sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings? Most im­por­tantly, how much new busi­ness was se­cured?

And if a Lik­ert scale was used on the sur­vey form where “sat­is­fied” was the cen­tre op­tion be­tween “Bril­liant” at one end and “Ter­ribad” at the other, then the re­ported re­sult of “sat­is­fied” was merely mid­dle of the road. (I’d love to delve more deeply into the mean­ing of sat­is­fac­tion and its di­rect re­la­tion­ship with ex­pec­ta­tions but have no room to do it here).

Let’s look too at how bi­ases in­flu­enced the re­sponses of hosted buy­ers. Those hosted to at­tend from in­ter­state and over­seas I dare say had the fol­low­ing travel ex­penses paid for by the or­gan­is­ers: their flights, ac­com­mo­da­tion, air­port trans­fers, en­try to the show and net­work­ing events. And so put your­self into the shoes of a hosted buyer com­plet­ing the post event sur­vey.

Three recog­nised and in­grained de­mand char­ac­ter­is­tics – par­tic­i­pa­tion bias, sur­vey bias and so­cial de­sir­abil­ity bias – would come into play af­fect­ing your re­sponses, mak­ing you adorn them and dress them up.

In turn, your re­sponses mis­lead or­gan­is­ers and turn the en­tire process into a quasi-fake, self­de­lud­ing sham. I’m not hav­ing a shot at Des­ti­na­tion Gold Coast here. I’m sim­ply mak­ing the point that the large ma­jor­ity of event sur­veys are poorly de­signed, ask the wrong ques­tions and are cor­rupted by bias.

Which brings me to the most im­por­tant point of all, and that is why this is so harm­ful to the events in­dus­try.

On the one hand, false and de­cep­tive event sur­vey re­sults de­lude event own­ers and de­ci­sion mak­ers into think­ing their events re­quire no im­prove­ment. No in­no­va­tion nec­es­sary. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” (And BTW, this is the symp­tom of another bias known as de­fault bias, aka sta­tus quo bias). There­fore, event de­sign – pro­grams and agen­das – re­main rooted in the past. Also, un­less we’re pre­pared to mea­sure, sur­vey and re­port on what re­ally mat­ters – the busi­ness im­pact and ROI of events and not just “Did we make you happy?” – events are des­tined to feel the full brunt of the next global eco­nomic down­turn, which, IMO, is not off.

If you’d like to learn more about how to make your events fresh, in­no­va­tive and ef­fec­tive, please con­tact Max Turpin at Con­fer­ence Fo­cus on 02 9700 7740 or email [email protected]­fer­ence­fo­cus.com.au.

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