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Demand for ROI stats, research and big data vital for meetings industry

With a wealth of organisations undertaking a good look at ROI and in-depth research, it’s a shame that the meetings industry is so poor at shouting the good news.

Some of the latest meetings and events research reports from around the world explored by Jonathan Read.

The stumbling block appears to be at senior management level, and in the short-term meetings professionals might see that a lack of demand for meaningful measurement as one less task to undertake. However, the demand for meaningful ROI is growing. Taking a proactive stance with the board and delivering essential metrics without being asked could well yield benefits.

It seems that numbers are king in 2019, with the clamour for hard data on meetings and events ROI increasing. However, it’s also important to note which metrics are important. In 2018 the key was the number of leads. Now 67 per cent of marketers are looking to calculate the all-important ROI figure.

 Number crunching
That’s one of the revelations from the Measurement Benchmarking Report 2019 which also revealed that 61 per cent of consumer marketers in the US are relying more on at-event data, collected by stand teams using registration software. This is a 10 per cent increase over the previous year, rather than bought-in or post-event research.

Meanwhile, in the world of all things social, the most important metric for gauging online success for 72 per cent of consumer marketers is ‘shares’. For their B2B colleagues it’s 50 per cent, according to event managers’ quarterly Experiential Intelligence report. Of all the platforms available to marketers Instagram is currently the favourite, followed by Facebook, a role-reversal on the previous year.

Meeting objectives
However, a different perspective on ROI and customer satisfaction is offered from the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) who reviewed attendee data from 21 organisers to gauge the differences in objectives and satisfaction levels at small and large events. The research debunked the myth that organising a successful trade show requires more attendees, more exhibitors, and more square feet.

Instead, the findings revealed that the smallest events (in terms of space) actually recorded the highest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) a measurement of the likelihood to recommend to a friend or colleague. The report also found that attendees at smaller and mid-sized events “subject the event to higher scrutiny by using more metrics when evaluating whether the visit was worthwhile.”

That’s not to write off the larger shows, which still deliver on the fundamental value proposition of events; finding new products and doing business. It seems more square footage and more exhibitors means more to browse and more to buy. However, bigger is not necessarily better.

And in an increasingly digital world, what about the impact on ROI of virtual events and the growth of hybrid meetings? One study comes directly from the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), whose recent Power of Digital Events research looks at their own foray into the world of streaming. In 2010 the organisation broadcasted the keynotes of their annual ‘Convening Leaders’ conference in 2010; the next year all-day broadcasts for all three days of the event were being delivered digitally.

Deep data dive
PCMA were then able to track digital event attendees from 2011-17 and measure their subsequent involvement with the organisation. In hard cash the addition of an online stream has bought in 3,933 new prospects and more than $1,000,000 incremental revenue. A deeper dive into the data also allowed the organisation to produce metrics on the more complex area of Return on Experience (RoE).

With a wealth of organisations undertaking in-depth research, it’s a shame that the meetings industry is so poor at shouting the good news. The stumbling block appears to be at senior management level, and in the short-term meetings professionals might see that a lack of demand for meaningful measurement as one less task to undertake. However, the demand for meaningful ROI is becoming an essential part of what clients want. Taking a proactive stance with the board and delivering essential metrics without being asked could well yield benefits.