Industry Insight: The Growing Importance of Data in Events

We all know how important it is to collect and analyse data from our events.  For one, it helps us measure success by analysing things like attendance, engagement and feedback. It helps us figure where we need to make improvements and map out goals, content and activities for our next event. It helps us profile attendees and run more effective and personalised marketing campaigns. It also helps us generate leads or memberships for the organisations we work for.

Yet managing event data is probably one of the most challenging issues that the events sector is facing today. In fact, our study last month revealed that 84% of event planners are finding the whole concept of data management an on-going challenge – with another 70% planning to make improvements to their data strategies over the next year:

  • 30% want to invest more time and resources in data analysis
  • 18% want to merge data by integrating their event tech systems
  • 14% want to invest in new data collection tools
  • 14% want to involve other organisational stakeholders for better data planning

With this in mind, EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well known event experts to find out what data management trends they’re currently seeing in the market and whether or not data is taking a more prominent role in the way organisations plan, market and manage their events.

Have a look at what they had to say:

Adam Parry, Editor, Event Industry News/Event Tech Live

I do agree that organisations want to start taking a more data-driven approach around their events.  But are they currently? Not entirely.  Our findings are that there is more data available to organisations than ever before – the problem is that there is a challenge to turn this data into action. Some of this is caused by the sheer volume of data.  The data is also being siloed in different locations without the ability to combine it for a top down overview.

There is certainly a trend towards more research and learning being done by organisations to better understand how they can take a more data-driven approach around their events.  We’re also seeing many event tech providers investing in APIs that allow their data to flow into an organisation’s chosen platform in order to get better insight.

Follow Adam Parry on Twitter: @punchtownparry

Tahira Endean, CMP/DES/CED – Event Producer, BC Innovation Council

Are organisations taking a more data-driven approach around their events? Slowly but surely, yes. We have to. Our stakeholders are looking for more quantifiable results. For marketing in particular, we now have so many tools which are both visible to the potential attendee and which work in the background to drive results in terms of registration and ticket sales. It just makes sense to use what is out there. Planning and running is very dependent on the organisation’s overall structure and technology evolution – if you are part of a larger organisation, it’s likely you have systems to tie into as well as use, and your appetite for technology spend will be higher than a boutique agency. Simple economics.

Will this change over the coming few years? Yes – as the ability to integrate more systems becomes less cumbersome and the world becomes ever more data-driven, so will our industry. As organisers demand things like real-time reporting, video fly-throughs of their events before they happen and analytics that prove the value of investment, it will require technology to tell this story in a meaningful way. They will be the ones who will continue to push these trends -and those who are not keeping up will be passed over for someone (or some organisation) who can do more than make a room look good.

Any event which has an app is already using data to create a more personal experience as participants explore their agendas, exhibitors and activities to determine how they will craft their experience. Incentive events which offer a range of reward options allow the ever- important choices and can use this data year over year to create more unique options. Understanding the trends around health, wellness and health apps and tying this into events is making it more personal and these can be woven into the overall experience. Following social media and allowing your event “stars” to be heard and seen is using shared data to make it more personally rewarding through social influence. Many are doing this based on earned knowledge and these are the events that will continue to be strong.

Follow Tahira Endean on Twitter: @TahiraCreates

Corbin Ball, Meetings Technology Speaker/Consultant/Writer, Corbin Ball Associates

Yes – finally, event technology companies are getting up to speed when it comes to the importance of data. The newer, more nimble cloud-based event tech tools are built with robust APIs and can work together more easily. Therefore, data collected from multiple sources can be combined and then sucked back into the attendee (client) profile history to better serve them in the future and improve events in general. Consequently, many companies are building out their analytic tools to more easily manage the data collected.

I think technology companies are especially good at using data effectively to run better and more personalised events. Some examples include Cisco’s Live events, Salesforce’s Dreamforce Conference and the MC2 Conference.

Follow Corbin Ball on Twitter: @corbinball

Would you like to take a more data-driven approach to the way you plan and manage your events?  Learn how organisations like Schroders, Haymarket, The Royal Statistical Society and The Liberal Democrats are making better use of their event data with this free eBook: The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Integration.

George Sirius, CEO, Eventsforce

Aside from performance measurement, the trend for personalisation is also driving a more data-driven approach to the way organisations plan and run their events. Attendees are increasingly expecting both the communication about an event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way. And this is now possible through the endless choice of data capture tools that help organisations collect and analyse valuable information on their attendees – from registration systems and mobile apps to chatbots, social media and other more sophisticated event management tools.

It is important to note though that the more data you collect from events, the more essential it becomes to have a clear and defined strategy around data management – one that outlines exactly what data needs to be collected and how it will be used. Otherwise it’s a bit of a lost opportunity as you’ll end up with too much data and no time or resources to do anything useful with it.

Another important consideration is data integration.  We’re seeing a number of organisations integrating their tech systems together to consolidate their event data in one place. In fact, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of customers working on integration projects over the past year and we expect this trend to continue as event planners try to automate their processes and make better use of their event data.

Follow George Sirius on Twitter: @georgesirius

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