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Measuring Up for Event Success

BI WORLDWIDE's mission is to produce measurable business results.  A pharma client's conference demanded a great event solution and needed to demonstrate true ROI.  But what of the event from a measurement perspective and what were the key research elements that ensured the event was a positive success for the delegates and the client business?

Be Objective

The research and measurement programme has to be defined by the event objective – so "why are we going to South Africa?" was the first question asked. In the case of our pharma client, there was the obvious one of communicating the company objectives and plans. However, following a merger and restructure the client wanted to ensure that they were succeeding in retaining, and attracting, the best quality staff.  They needed to assess the impact of the conference and how this translated into brand understanding, adherence to company values and personal engagement to the company.

Key business decisions were to be made and the conference was to influence these.

The core requirement was to assess attitude to the business before and after the conference, hence the measurement and research strategy reflected this:

  • A series of affinity questions were asked pre- and post- event. E.g. "{client} is an exciting place to work", "{client} recognises my contribution".
  • A 5-point Likert scaling was the most appropriate tool – Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree etc.
  • Every employee was asked for three words to describe the client company and these were categorised positive, neutral or negative.
  • Anonymity was guaranteed - passport number was the unique identifier used.
  • It mirrored the company organisation and critical HR information was in at the start. So, for example, results were able to be viewed according to manager, region, territory, length of tenure, level, function and so on.

One of the fundamental benefits of adopting a research and measurement based approach to the event was that conference content was influenced in the planning stage by the pre-event responses. Where statements were strongest or deemed variant to the values of the business the topics' priority in the conference programme increased.

Removing Bias, Raising Response

One of the main things to ensure confidence in decision making is to remove bias in responses. This was achieved through, among other things:

  • A long registration window – there was enough time for everyone to complete their return when they felt it most convenient. Why is this important? "If you give everyone a G&T on the plane and a happy sheet to tick then the result will be positively biased". The same applied to the post-event survey.
  • The conference communication programme was aligned to company values - it was not known that the same survey would be completed post-conference.
  • Individual contact method was asked and respected – you'll get a negative bias if someone has requested print and you force to complete online.

BI WORLDWIDE's 'eventrak' system was used to capture all event delegate information and requirements, the survey being part of this. If the preference was paper then this was fed into the system by BI.

Sample Size and Confidence

Sample size is vital to ensure that results, especially if business decisions are being made, are statistically sound. For the client we ended up with a 96% response to the surveys pre- and post-event, ensuring sample size was not an issue when interpreting results. And a couple of other things ensured the statistics could be used with confidence:

  • There were enough questions asked so analysis of variance tests were valid.
  • Communication was open and aligned to the company values, this helps overcome 'central tendency, acquiescence and social desirablity' bias and increases confidence.

Better Results, Better Decisions

The conference addressed some key issues raised by employees and some important decisions for the future were made. Overall the conference resulted in a 10% positive attitudinal shift for all employees, and in some areas "has a bright future" this shift was pronounced.

Well so what?

Because the measurement and research programme was integral to the event at the start it meant the client could confidently:

  • Set priorities for their strategic plans and apply resources more effectively – they knew exactly what was important, relevant and contributed to individual attitudes toward the business.
  • Apply plans to a detailed level. All questions were assessed by a variety of criteria, e.g. – you could see where "supporting my development needs" was in need of improving, by tenure, region, line manager etc.

And, in addition to all the positive business benefits, the conference 'happy sheet' showed that this particular conference was the most appreciated in the clients' history, and without resorting to the G&T technique!

Events with research and measurement can prove to the Board that face-to-face communication delivers!


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