Internal conferences lacking business objectives, KDM finds

Planners of internal conferences are not being sufficiently encouraged by their leaders to focus on business objectives, according to research conducted by event content specialist KDM Events. The company’s research was designed to discover how organisers evaluate their internal meetings.

KDM, which has offices in London and the Midlands, surveyed event owners and organisers from 49 companies during December 2014 in an attempt to reveal what ‘event success’ looks like and how outcomes are measured and analysed.
 
KDM’s research showed that event success is still largely being attributed to logistical effectiveness and delegate experience on the day.

The satisfactory outcome of ‘everyone enjoying themselves’ garnered the greatest number of responses with an 88 per cent tick rate, while budgetary (69%), logistical (64%), and scheduling (43%) targets were way ahead of business priorities.
 
Respondents were asked to select from a menu of 14 event objectives. At the bottom end of the scale, 14.3 per cent of organisers claimed not to be setting objectives at all. From the pure business objectives selected, education (staff training and raising staff knowledge) was top scorer, cited by 73.8 per cent of respondents.
 
Quantifiable business performance improvement came way down the pecking order, with the improvement of staff retention cited by only 21.4 per cent; collecting new business initiatives, 19 per cent; and helping to achieve sales targets, 26.2 per cent.

KDM Events commercial director Nicky Whyman said: “The figures indicate that even when organisers are setting business objectives, in many cases internal events are still largely being used for one-way communication rather than as a tool for generating ideas, addressing issues or enhancing business performance.”
 
KDM’s research revealed that few organisations approach event evaluation with the intention of measuring and monitoring behavioural change and, although 88 per cent of respondents said they undertook post-event surveys, less than a quarter (23.8%) said they surveyed delegates before the event as well.
 
Whyman said: “If organisers are not taking pre-event benchmarks their post-event analysis is going to be at best a vague indicator and at worst meaningless.”

According to KDM’s research, organisers collect delegate feedback in three ways: 41.6 per cent of respondents asked attendees verbally; 39.6 per cent circulated a questionnaire during the event and 60.4 per cent conducted post-event surveys.

Other event evaluation metrics included post event budget reconciliation, cited by 47.6 per cent of respondents and measurement of business performance, such as sales uplift or number of new clients, mentioned by 45.24 per cent.
 
“Our findings gave the distinct impression that the achievement of wider business goals was outside the remit of many event organisers, who are often quite disconnected from the board strategy that determines business objectives,” Whyman added.

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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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