The 5 Stages of an Event Audit: Stage One: Overall Data Mining & Research

Events and conferences play a pivotal role in the membership experience. If attendance is declining, it might be a symptom of something deeper.

In this five part series, we will discuss how an event audit will help your association make improvements and enhancements of your Conference, ensure that you are maximizing opportunities with partnerships, increase member engagement overall, increase your communications and marketing effectiveness, and move your association towards delivering effective ongoing programming.

Event Audits are what your association needs if you are:

  • Looking to determine the “wants” and “needs” of your community (members, prospective members, sponsors/exhibitors, and other potential stakeholders) to ensure that your delivery of a conference remains aligned with their key goals and objectives;
  • Looking to seek guidance, plans and recommendations from industry experts, as a result of the feedback obtained, on the overall experience and delivery of the Conference, taking into account the other events (and, other industry events) that are planned in your sector;
  • You are seeking advice on whether taking your conference to the next level in terms of technology and delivery (i.e. in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid) is appropriate;
  • How to better market your Conference to prospective participants, and;
  • How to better market and deliver ROI to prospective sponsors and exhibitors.

The first stage, and certainly not necessarily the sexiest one, is Overall Data Mining & Research.

  • In-depth interviews: First, you need to determine the line of questioning and objectives you want to cover with the in-depth interview.  One-on-One conversations are best for this step, once the questions have been determined, and could include staff, your Board of Directors, Current and Past Conference Committee Members, Past Sponsors/Exhibitors, etc.  Essentially, whomever you deem is a key stakeholder in the event.
  • You then need to have a thorough review of data and feedback gathered from your past conferences (go back 2-3 years if you can).

What you are looking for with this is to get some thoughts and feedback from your stakeholders.  This will also determine the line of questioning you use to launch a survey to the general public (past attendees, members, prospective attendees, etc).

The survey to the general public should cover questions that will allow you to:

  • Anticipate their likelihood of attending a future Conference, and asking why they have not participated in the last few years if necessary;
  • Obtain their thoughts and feedback on sponsorship and exhibitor participation, uncovering thoughts and opinions on the presentation of sponsor and exhibitor participation in the association’s communications, and at the conference, are in fact impactful to your membership;
  • Evaluate the education topics they would like to see offered, in a general sense, to determine if a member/non-member/stakeholder would prefer to see more topics focused on one area, etc.;
  • Evaluate preferences on the delivery format of these educational topics, to address the potential adult learning styles that are represented in your group;
  • Assess whether an on-line or hybrid conference would be a viable option for prospective participants, and potentially what an on-line or hybrid attendee would be willing to invest financially to “attend”;
  • Assess the appropriate timing (in terms of the month the Conference is held, as well as the length of the Conference);
  • Determine what networking opportunities are desired by participants, which at times may go above what is being delivered/offered now;
  • Evaluate cost of the Conference (i.e. How much are they willing to pay);
  • Other questions that may arise after consultation with your Key Contacts.

Once the survey has closed, you will need to consolidate all findings from interviews, research, and the online survey to assess and be used to support the reminder of the phases and deliverables.

What’s next?  The Marketing & Communications Phase.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Does your conference need a review?  Consider an Event Audit! Reach out to us by email at for a customized quote.

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