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More to Events than meets the ROI

ROI – a universal three letter acronym that it is often poorly understood, incorrectly used and often ignored by events buyers, at their peril.

Find out BI WORLDWIDE’s views on the what, how and when of Event ROI from our in-house Research and Analytics expert. 

Read our seven top time-saving tips about how to approach ROI from an events perspective and ensure your ROI delivers real value to your business.

Intuitively event organisers might believe that events give them Return on Investment (ROI), but how can this be proved or measured? It shouldn't be so hard to work out should it?

In simple terms, ROI is: (Event Results – Event Costs) x 100 = ROI Event Costs

It looks simple, but there are numerous challenges in getting to that golden number.

ROI is not just a valuable measurement tool; it is likely to form an imperative part of securing next year's budget. You need to ensure that an event's results are real, unambiguous and translate into hard economic fact.

But over what period of time will you look to measure success? How will you ensure all costs are taken into consideration?

The Phillips Method is perhaps the most well-known ROI measurement in the events world, but you may not have all the information you need at your disposal.

Our sevenfold guide will steer you along the right path.

Be clear on Investment vs Objective

Setting ROI and setting ROO are very different things, but both have validity for measurement.

For example:

  • Setting a Return on Objective: "To ensure all delegates understand the business strategy for the coming year"
  • Setting a Return on Investment: "To improve sales per head from X to Y and deliver an ROI of Z"

'Objectives' are often about the event, and 'Return' about the effect of the event. Both are valid and necessary because attitudinal and behavioural changes (as a consequence of the event) deliver the business value.

Convert measures to values

Use your standard business measures, make sure data is readily available, put a real value on it and tie back to the event objective.

 A major Pharma client measured company engagement pre- and post-event, with a control group. The event produced a 10% positive attitudinal shift towards the company from those attending, the sales versus target rose by 7% in like for like quarters and products giving an ROI of 22%. The attendees outperformed a non-attendee control group who received the same conference elements.

Compare apples with apples

Remove external influences on performance measures post-event. Market growth is the easy one: if sales growth is more than market growth, the event ROI is likely to be positive and market share increased. Other things to think about: remove from the sales figures products that weren't launched before the event and for true ROI your finance team can help with the effects of inflation and interest rates.

Don't view the event in isolation

Your event is only one part of your marketing toolkit, a conference needs to be part of the business strategy, so revisit objectives, refresh learnings and analyse outcomes.

 A global IT organisation kicked-off a major strategy using regional conferences. BI WORLDWIDE measured the event effect but also reinforced conference learnings throughout the year. At all measurement points the ROI was positive and sales value per head increased for all delegate sales performance segments. Year-on-year, ROI was a staggering 31% increase in like-for-like sales.

Don't ignore the cost side

Ensure you have robust and reliable budget management systems and on-site policies in place to minimise financial surprises. Don't compromise your target ROI.

Everything is relative!

In today's market, business metrics may have worsened after your event, so forget the absolute and look at the relative, for example - market share, profit per sale, customer satisfaction indices.

 A BI WORLDWIDE Automotive client's key business meeting has proved ROI based on product market share performance and accessories sales value per sale in a shrinking market.

Use the right media

Paper, web, email, spreadsheet – what matters is what is right for you. The golden rules in data collection are that you make it appropriate, timely and consistent:


A whole library of material exists around collecting and measuring ROI, if you're interested here's a great place to start –

However you measure and report Event Results, one thing is sure:

the more sound the basis of measurement, the more solid your data on ROI becomes – and the more robust your position for retaining or growing your budget. Fact!

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