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Clear event strategy and the finest operational crew in the world won’t count for very much if you aren’t measuring the success of their performance correctly.
But the truth remains that many of today’s companies involved in the international exhibitions ecosystem still run their businesses according to the measurement of outdated KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). While the business environment has changed, and operational procedures have evolved, the way in which we are measuring performance – at least in our experience – has not.
There are many ways to measure performance. While financial reward may be the driving force for most businesses, and the predominant indicator of a successful event, it is not the only one. A show that proves lucrative one year may falter in the next iteration if the client needs aren’t being addressed. The withdrawal of just a few unsatisfied core exhibitors can quickly lead to an irreversible slide.
So how should we measure success? While revenue may be an okay single-number measure of your current situation, it is unable to provide any help while making decisions.
Revenue is the result of other factors and other KPIs help to explain revenue.
For example, if you’re running a conference where you charge for tickets, then the number of delegates registered for your event is a good KPI. Delegate satisfaction will also reflect the potential for future financial success. If a person is happy and recommends the event, or brings their friends the next time, then that’s an indication of ongoing commercial success.
Measuring takings after the event does not explain how to sustain the event’s performance.
Simple to acquire registration data, such as who is attending your event, can also indicate its likely commercial success. If your event has a transactional element, then a high percentage of relevant visitors with buying power across all your visitors – a simple to measure characteristic – indicates a greater chance of vendor or exhibitor satisfaction. Which leads to reduced churn and greater sustainability. It’s easy to see how this could relate to revenue. If the organiser sells advertising space on their website, for example, then the fees they can charge depends proportionally on the number of relevant impressions and/or clicks such adverts would generate.
In non-transactional events, engagement can be a strong indication of satisfaction. Engagement can be measured through post-event surveys, but it can also be measured before and during the event by analyzing digital tools such as behavior using the show website and mobile app. Engaged community members are a KPI in themselves.
An engaged customer is a happy customer with a higher probability of returning to your shows. And by building a core visitor base, you can enable show growth and increase revenue.
Return on time is another key factor for busy attendees, made evident by the increasingly popular practice of hosted buyer programmes and concierge services. Find out how time-efficient your event is for your attendees. If a company is taking twice as long to generate the same number of leads as it does elsewhere, then perhaps your format or concept needs to be addressed.
The ability to build on your existing visitor base is a good way to measure other non-revenue-related considerations. For example, measuring how many new visitors you have (and how you acquired them) is a KPI that indicates how effective your marketing is and how strong is your brand.
The dynamics of the show will determine the actual KPIs you choose to measure – whether it is transactional, in terms of product, service-based, or largely informational, with an audience of passive listening delegates. But in any event, you have to have a system in place that allows for KPI capture.
Good pre-show modules enable buyers and sellers to line the right people up in front of them, and the measurement of KPI data collected during the event will contribute to the success of future events if gathered correctly.
KPIs should not only explain today’s revenue but should also help in predicting future revenue or potential for such revenue.