By Mike Walker, Managing Director of MGN Events

Running a successful corporate event is not just about making sure everything runs smoothly and that everyone has had a good day. That is important of course – but it is also about being able to show a return on investment or more commonly the ability to show a return on objectives (ROO).

If you have been asked to organise the next away day or corporate event, you will be expected to be able to measure the value of the event and it is important to have a procedure in place that covers how you may be able to show this.

A technically flawless production and lots of happy delegates are great outcomes when you come to the end of all the hard work required to put on a quality corporate event or conference. Nowadays however you need more than happy customers to justify the considerable financial outlay that a large corporate event may require and you need to plan for this at the very start. Below are some of the key issues you should consider:

Objective setting and Planning: when you are planning your event you must set clear, measurable objectives. Agree with your team how it will reinforce the mission of the business. Make sure the objectives you set can be benchmarked so that you can return to them post-event and be able to show obvious ROO.

Target Audience: During the planning phase you must also agree your ideal target audiences and make sure you are inviting the right people to your event. Are they at the right level in the organization and will they be able to learn from your event or change behaviours as a result of what they learn? If you attract the wrong people to your event then you will not be able to achieve your objectives or justify the budget you have spent.

Learning: Many events and conferences are about learning and sharing knowledge. The amount that a delegate comes away with as a result of a planned event can be measured through online survey forms after the conference which specifically focuses on knowledge learned as a result of the event.

The questions on your survey feedback form must therefore reflect your measurable objectives e.g. you may want to focus on issues such as:

• How much new information the delegate came away with
• How useful they found the information on the day
• Whether their attitude towards particular issues have changed as a result of the what they have learnt
• How they a plan to apply what they have learnt

Behaviour change: can you measure behaviour change as a result of learning gained at the conference or event? You may want your delegates to stop doing something, do something differently or do something new. This is quite hard to measure but the best and cheapest way is probably through online surveys and self-reporting. Behaviour change is something that you may need to go back and measure some time later via a follow up survey form 3-6 months post event.

Satisfaction: this can be the management’s satisfaction as well as delegate satisfaction and can be measured via delegate interviews and feedback surveys post event.

If you can show the budget holders within your organization that events can be measured in terms of ROO/ROI then you can be more certain of your event budgets going forward.