How to Build a Better Post-Show Survey for Attendees and Exhibitors

July 8, 2019

Nearly every organizer sends a post-event survey to its attendees and exhibitors. We want to capture their feelings about the event, but struggle to collect meaningful data and encourage survey completion. One of the most common mistakes is to request feedback on event details and logistics such as food, room temperatures, room block choices and more.

While this information can be insightful for the committee and your venue partners, the strategic value in planning for next year is minimal. Does the dislike of the crudité at the opening reception indicate overall satisfaction and desire to return next year? And, more importantly, are you willing to risk the limited number of questions in good survey design to get this type of data?

Here are five more critical things to consider when developing your next post-event survey.

Affinity Segmentation

Whether you create specific questions for affinity groups or use this information in analysis, segmentation allows for a deeper understanding of a single group’s viewpoint versus statistics or opinions across the entire survey population. Think about the differences between first-year attendees and five-year veterans. Consider exhibitors that have 10-by-10-foot booths versus 30-by-30-foot or larger, or attendees from less than 100 miles away versus more than 1,000 miles. Each of these audiences can have very different experiences, and therefore yield different results.

Make it Brief and Make it Worth Their Time

Keeping things concise increases the odds of completion and survey satisfaction. Survey takers want to know how much time the survey will take — 10 minutes is the absolute maximum. It is also increasingly common to incentivize people to take your survey. Consider both monetary and non-monetary incentives. Depending on your audience, getting attendees to take the time to complete a survey can come at a higher dollar value (i.e., the medical profession). Priority points can often sway exhibitors while attendees enjoy a chance to win a free registration for next year’s event.

Act Quickly

Memories have a short shelf life. The longer after an event that a survey is sent out, the less detailed and precise the data will be in the survey responses.

Net Promoter Score

Make sure to ask if the attendee or the exhibitor would recommend the event to friends or colleagues to help you understand your overall net promoter score. This question is becoming standard in survey design to gauge show/event loyalty. 

Ask the Most Important Question: Are You Returning Next Year?

It’s crucial to understand your audience's reasons to return (or not return) and learn whether or not they met their objectives at your event. In fact, it should be your No. 1 priority. You can further analyze these responses by segment to help you obtain actionable findings.

In a highly surveyed, incredibly busy environment, make sure to create well-constructed questions around the perceived value of your event when designing your next survey. At the core, your surveys help you understand how effective your show has been for attendees and exhibitors. In turn, this survey data helps you improve your event and deliver increasing value year over year.

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