The ROI challenge…

I was disappointed but not surprised to see yet another feature in the October edition of one of the event industry’s main monthly publications claiming ‘Event planners failing to measure ROI.’

70% of event planners in a survey of 400 were not measuring the return on investment of their events and 60% of planners were experiencing budget cuts. In my opinion if any of those experiencing budget cuts are those not measuring the impact and results of their events then they shouldn’t be entirely surprised.

The ROI debate has been a recurring theme in the live events industry for around 10 years now and I find it incredible that the proportion of conference organisers and event management companies still not deploying some form of event evaluation and measurement is still so high.

If you put a significant sum of money into a bank account or similar investment vehicle and were not advised on the performance of your investment sometime later – how would you feel?

The article makes connections between ROI measurement, declining budgets and event viability but surely it is much more fundamental than that. It is about the professionalism of the conference and events management industry. Evaluation and measurement has to be a core service provided to clients. No different to the other standards of service we demand of ourselves in the areas of creative, technical production and logistics.

Maybe the issue lies in that, according to C&IT magazine’s ‘State of the Industry’ survey earlier this year, only 27% of clients are demanding that event management agencies prove the ROI of events. This feels like a low number and may be responsible for the lack of pro-activeness on behalf of their events companies.

I know there are many who simply don’t believe that you can measure the return on investment (ROI) from meetings and events, it is simply too difficult. Either you believe the event to be effective or you don’t, you have to take it ‘on faith’. I’ve also heard it said by event professionals that “we create emotions and memorable moments and you can’t measure ROI on emotions.”

Do these emotions have a value? Of course, otherwise you would not spend good money to create them. You don’t turn emotions into money, you turn emotions into actions, which in turn lead to the outcomes you wanted your investment in the event to deliver, possibly, more sales or lower costs, improving profits and shareholder value or increased individual understanding and performance.

Figuring out what participants need to do after the event in order to achieve positive value for the organisation and designing the event to achieve such behavioural change is figuring out ways of connecting emotions and memorable moments to the bottom line. You can do that too.