Have you ever wondered what your guests really think about your events? Did they like the venue? How did the food taste? Did they get enough value to justify the price? What didn’t they like?
And of course, there’s the big question: Will they attend your next event?
Fortunately, this information is well within your reach. You can gather feedback from all the people who participated in your event using post-event surveys.
What Is a Post-Event Survey?
A post-event survey is a questionnaire you distribute to your event participants. The purpose is to analyze the event, their experience, and learn how to improve future events.
Post-event surveys aren’t very long, usually less than 20 questions. The questions take various forms, like multiple-choice, Likert scale, or open-ended. You can hand out these surveys on paper, send them through email, or publish them to your custom event app.
The goal of a post-event survey is to learn…
- What worked well so you can repeat it.
- What didn’t work well so you can avoid it.
- How you can make the experience better in the future.
Most importantly, you want each survey response to provide actionable information you can use to make changes, not just simple “yes” and “no” answers, otherwise, the survey won’t teach you anything.You can gather feedback from all the people who participated in your event using post-event surveys. Click To Tweet
Who Should You Survey?
You should survey everyone who participates in your event, not just your guests. It’s helpful to give surveys to your vendors, sponsors, VIPs, employees, volunteers, and your client. Each group will have their own unique perspective on your event. You can’t give them all the same survey, however.
For example, your employees and volunteers can comment on your organizational skills and your abilities as a leader. Sponsors can talk about the return on their investment. VIPs can tell you whether their experience was special. Vendors can offer their ideas to make your event more successful and efficient.
That said, keep your surveys anonymous. People are more likely to give you honest feedback if they don’t have to put their name on the form.
How Many Questions Should You Ask?
This is a tough question because there are no obvious right or wrong answers. On one hand, you want to ask a lot of questions to gather as much feedback as possible. On the other hand, you don’t want to ask so many questions that you overwhelm your survey respondents. According to a study by Survey Monkey, respondent rates fall every time you add another question.
Carefully consider the value of each question you add to your survey. How will you use it to improve future events and your event planning process? If you don’t know how you will use the information you receive from a particular question, remove it from your survey.
SurveyAnyplace recommends limiting your surveys to about 10 questions, and no more than 15. If your survey is any longer, you lose a lot of people.
Most importantly, it’s important that survey takers understand your survey’s time commitment before they begin to take it. On paper, they can simply scan the page. Digitally, however, you have to let them know ahead of time. You might say something like…
- “Take our 6-minute survey.”
- “Please answer these 8 questions.”
This kind of warning will increase your response rate and make your survey takers feel better about the experience. Just make sure you are honest!
What Types of Questions Should You Ask?
The format of your post-event survey questions is just as important as their content. Your questions should be easy to understand and respond to, but still deep enough to help you collect valuable insight. These are the best types.
1. Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions are valuable because they give the survey taker the freedom to recount their specific experience. It doesn’t force them to choose from a narrow range of possible answers. They are the closest you can get to an organic conversation.
The downside, however, is that open-ended questions are hard to study if you have a lot of survey responses. Unlike multiple-choice questions, you can’t look at open-ended questions in aggregate. You have to read each one.
Here are some examples of open-ended post-survey questions:
- What was your favorite part of the event?
- If you recommended next year’s event to a friend, what would you say?
- What can we do to improve for next year?
- Do you have any topic or speaker suggestions for future events?
Open-ended questions will get you the best information, but they aren’t quick to answer. Don’t include more than three open-ended questions on your survey.
2. Likert Scale Questions
Likert Scale questions ask respondents to rate their feelings about a particular topic on a scale. Unlike simple yes/no questions, these questions give you more nuance. They help you measure sentiment and attitude.
For instance, you might ask, “How likely are you to attend our next event?” Then you would give the options unlikely, somewhat unlikely, not sure, somewhat likely, and likely. Or you could ask them to “Rate your satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10.”
Just make sure you clearly label which end is positive and which is negative!
Here are some examples of Likert Scale post-survey questions:
- How would you rate the knowledge of the keynote speaker?
- How much will this event positively impact execution of your job?
- How likely are you to recommend this conference to a friend or coworker?
- How satisfied were you with the event’s agenda?
- How would you rate the quality of the networking at this event?
Choose-all-that-apply questions are like multiple-choice questions, but they give the survey respondent more control over their answer.
For example, let’s say you want to learn how your guests heard about your event. They probably learned about your event from several sources, but a multiple choice question would force them to choose a single answer. A choose-all-that-apply question would let them choose multiple sources so you get the best information.
Here are some examples of choose-all-that-apply post-survey questions (each would offer several options to select):
- Which sponsors do you remember from the event?
- What factors determine your decision to attend events like this one?
- Which after-event activities did you participate in?
- What could we do to make the next event better?
Should You Incentive People to Respond?
Incentives are powerful ways to convince people to take your survey. There are probably a lot of people who are willing to complete the survey, but don’t give you time in their schedule. An incentive could make your survey a higher priority.
What should you give out? A free gift to everyone who responds is usually outside of most event planner’s budget. Instead, make each survey an entry to win something, like an Amazon gift card or free entry into your next event.
A word of warning: Don’t offer incentives if you have reason to think your audience won’t take the survey seriously. Don’t pay them for their thoughts if you suspect they will just give you bogus information.
How Do You Measure Feedback?
If you use a survey tool, you should be able to look at all of your responses in aggregate (excluding open-ended questions). For example, if you use SurveyMonkey, you gain access to a results page that looks like this:
Give your respondents a week to complete the survey. Then first identify what people liked about your event. Use this information to stay consistent. If they like the venue, consider booking it for your next event. If they liked your check-in process, make some notes so you can reproduce it.
Next, examine what people didn’t like. Criticism can be hard to hear, especially if it’s brutal and there’s a lot of it. It’s tempting to dismiss criticism if you don’t like it. But feedback is an important part of learning and throwing better events, so try to take it seriously.
Finally, collect any suggestions to see if you can implement them in the future. Some suggestions are simple and easy to carry out. For instance, a guest may recommend making the speaker’s microphone louder. That’s easy to fulfill.
Some suggestions, however, won’t be easy or cheap, so don’t feel compelled to implement everything. Keep in mind that your guests don’t know your budget or understand the difficulties of hosting a large event.
Grow as an Event Planner
If you ask piercing questions and take the responses seriously, you can use post-event surveys to improve yourself as an event planner and host successful events that people love. Remember: All feedback is good feedback, even if it’s hard to hear.