Answers From Attendees: 10 Ways to Gather Feedback Before, During and After Your Next Event
Given how much time and work can be involved in planning an event, chances are good that if you're hosting something in the next couple months — a fundraiser, an open house, a conference or another gathering — then you've already started the planning process.
Feedback is one of the most important aspects of any event because it can tell you if all your work was worth it from your attendees' perspective. Staying on top of what those people are saying ensures that your future gatherings will help you continue your momentum. The good news is that social media makes it easier than ever to have a feel for what your attendees are saying — even while the event is taking place.
Following are a few ways you can gather feedback, before your next event, while your event is still taking place and after it's all over.
Conduct a pre-poll. Find out what your attendees expect from your event. This helps you plan accordingly and gauge how well you’ve done at meeting those expectations.
Party in progress — following and watching for feedback
While your event is taking place, social media can make it easy to "eavesdrop" on what your attendees are saying and gather some instant feedback:
Be sure attendees can check in. Set up a Foursquare venue for your event if it doesn’t exist already, and let your attendees know. This allows you and your attendees to "check in" and see who else is already at the event. You can create tips and to-dos for attendees too. But also keep an eye out for comments, tips and to-dos from your attendees.
Create a unique Twitter hashtag for the event. Make sure everyone knows the hashtag by placing it on invites, registration forms and signs throughout the venue. Then encourage attendees to use it whenever they tweet about your event. This allows you to search for the hashtag and follow the conversation easily.
Collect the Twitter handles of your attendees. Make this part of the registration process so you can create a Twitter list of event attendees to monitor during (and after) the event. Also, use attendees' Twitter handles on name tags. This encourages people to connect with each other and tweet about the event.
Encourage attendees to post photos. When attendees post pictures (to Twitter, your Facebook wall or a site like Flickr), you know what they are enjoying about your event. In addition to feedback, you'll get some great shots that will help you document what's taking place.
Set up searches for the event and keywords. Some people may not use your Twitter hashtag to talk about your event. Be sure to set up Google Alerts and Twitter searches to catch those straggling comments.
Set up a QR code to a short survey at the event. Hang QR codes around the event venue to get quick, instant feedback while it's still fresh in your attendees’ minds.
When the event is finished
After all your guests have gone home and people have had a chance to digest what they learned, ate or did, that's the time to get more substantial feedback.
Send a survey. Within days of your event, send a survey that asks attendees if their expectations were met, how rewarding the event was for them and any other questions you may have. You can also use what feedback you learned on social media during the event and follow up with a question or two to see how widespread the thoughts are.
Say "thank you." Be sure to thank attendees who posted to social media about the event. This could spur more feedback you wouldn't have gotten otherwise and encourages those people to keep interacting with you in the future.
Plan and promote your next gathering. Perhaps no piece of feedback is as valuable as the number of attendees who also attend your next event. So get one on the calendar and let your loyal supporters know.
Any of these methods gets the ball rolling for you to see what your registrants thought about your event and how things went from their perspective. Once you gather information, you can see if you want to contact anyone for additional details (if they’ve agreed to be contacted), use the data to improve upcoming events or get more ideas. No matter what option you choose, any feedback you receive helps improve your event. Knowledge is power, and with these options, your registrants and attendees will provide you with plenty of it for future events.