Monday, March 14, 2011

Three Reasons Why Attendee Feedback is a Powerful Force for Events

As a veteran of the meetings and events profession, for more than thirty years, I am no stranger to making mistakes.  I have made more than my fair share of them along the way. (and continue to do so)

Early in my career I naively believed that admitting errors was a sign of weakness.  Fortunately, I eventually looked past my own insecurities.  I realized that part of growing, or becoming a stronger person, is for me to embrace mistakes as a learning opportunity.

As some of you know I am a volunteer co-organizer of the EventCamp National Conference (ECNC) held in Chicago February 11-13, 2011.  One of the trademarks of an EventCamp is it’s experimental nature.  In trying new things our planning team understands the risk, and recognizes there is no growth opportunity without it.  Yet, we also realize there will be mistakes made, along the path towards success.

Turning Event Management Mistakes Into Success

Strong communication within our tightly knit community is critical to EventCamp’s sustained growth.  Our best resource for gauging our event’s success is through conference evaluations.  In asking attendees for their feedback we are:

a) Gathering real intelligence regarding attendees experiences.

b) Building trust and loyalty with attendees by demonstrating we value their input.

While this year’s post conference evaluation results were mostly positive we did receive some criticism regarding a few issues. Our follow up action plan is to utilize what we learned from those constructive comments to tweak next year’s event design.

Three Reasons Why Attendee Feedback is Powerful

So why is attendee feedback so important?  Here are three reasons why I believe it is a powerful force for events:

  • It Builds Deeper Relationships — If you care enough about your conference participants to ask for their opinions and they, in return honor that request, by responding with their open and honest feedback, that builds trust across the community.
  • Open Dialogue Leads to Collaboration — if you foster a culture of open dialogue then collaboration is more likely to occur, as communication barriers are eliminated.  Creativity flourishes in this environment.
  • Diversity of Opinion May Lead to Growth— Sometimes a disagreement, or alternative viewpoints on a particular subject or issue, may lead to a new or “morphed” revelation, or “Ah Hah” moment, resulting in innovation.  This is growth at its finest.

Of course, in order for feedback to serve any useful purpose you must do something with it.  So, it is incumbent upon you to apply what you learn, through the feedback process, with integrity.

Question:  In your experience how have you utilized attendee feedback to grow your event(s)What keeps you awake at night as you consider how to improve your event(s)?  Please share your thoughts with us!


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