Event Surveys: Helping You Plan For Greater Event Success

Philip Cleave
August 1, 2023
Young lady in the process of planning her next event

From the purpose of your event, its budget and its length to your choice of venue, likely attendee numbers, topics of discussion and much more. No matter what type of event you’re looking to run, when it comes to its planning there’s lots to think about.

Subsequently, the more information you can get upfront, the better you’ll be in terms of planning, managing attendee expectations and maximizing the future success of your event.

In this blog we’ll explore how the use of an event survey can help you to better plan and achieve what you’re aiming for.

Surveys that help in the planning of your event

When it comes to surveys you can use during event planning there are two main types, the event planning survey and the pre-event survey.

The event planning survey is conducted early in the planning process to explore event options. The event planning survey is an exploratory survey, that’s fairly qualitative in nature, and helps you discover what your potential attendees hope to get out of your event. It also aims to explore their needs and interests, to ensure they’re in line with your goals.

By contrast, the pre-event survey is sent to those who have already registered for your event and looks to survey registrants about your event’s finer details.

The questions for these surveys typically look to answer how you will accommodate the attendee during the event such as their food preferences, lodging, session signups, and more. And they’re typically quantitative in structure featuring closed-ended answer options.

Both surveys are conducted prior to registration.

Selecting the surveys you need

Either one of these survey types can help assist you in making your event more successful.

You may find you need one, or the other, or both, depending on the type of event you’re planning and where you are in that planning process.

For instance, if you hosted a similar event in the past and conducted a post-event survey, you may already have some good feedback available, which negates the need to run an event planning survey. However, if you want to confirm your ideas and plans for an upcoming event, surveying a small sample of past respondents is a really good idea.

How to use your event planning survey

Given that many event planning surveys are qualitative in nature, you’ll want to keep it relatively short in length. You don’t need to ask about every detail of the event, just those bits that you’re unsure about.

You might want to start with some broad questions and ask about some of the ideas you want to present. Always provide lots of space for open-ended questions so that potential attendees can tell you exactly what they’re looking to get out of your event.

You can add a few quantitative questions if you need to, but if you do, always include a textbox to collect answer options you did not consider.

When to use your event planning survey

If you’ve not run an event planning survey before, it can be helpful to know what sorts of areas it can help you to explore and get answers to.

Here’s some areas to think about:

Identify your need for the event

It makes sense before you spend any time, money and energy on planning your next event, that you actually have a committed audience to make it all worthwhile.

If a respondent indicates that they are interested in such an event, you can trigger further questions to them that will help you prepare for that event, such as possible dates and venues where you could host it.

This will also provide you with identified qualified leads that you can nurture in the run up to your event.

Define your event’s purpose

If your event is to be meaningful, you need it to have a clearly defined goal. Communicate the purpose of your event to potential attendees and ask them what they want to get out of it.

Whether you’re looking to inspire and educate or promote awareness or raise funds. Irrespective of the type of event you’re planning, you need to clearly define what you expect to accomplish at your event, as this will be paramount in determining whether your event is a success.

Topic selection

To help identify topics of greatest interest to your audience, you might like to ask potential attendees in advance to suggest topics related to your subject matter that they would like to learn more about. An open-ended textbox question type is best used here.

If you have a tentative list of topics, you might want to present them with a multi-select question type so you can determine all of their topics of interest. Alternatively, you could also use a ranking question type so you can see which topics they are most interested in.

Remember to use the ‘other’ option when using a quantitative question type, so that you can collect ideas from your respondents that you failed to consider.

Set your agenda

It might be that rather than being topic driven your event may be looking to cover off issues of greatest importance to your audience. This could be especially true if the event was hosted by a local council or some other government body.

In such a scenario, an event planning survey can help you to anticipate questions and allow you to prepare your answers in advance. You can even ask respondents how they would like to see some of the issues resolved.

The better prepared you can show up to your event to address the issues at hand the more successful your event is likely to be.

Line up your event speakers

Many large industry events will have a seminar element to them and therefore various invited subject matter experts who can present as keynote or guest speakers.

While you might already have a tentative list of speakers lined up, you can often find out about some interesting alternatives you may not have considered, when you ask potential attendees who they would like to see.

Select your event format

While you may have successfully run a particular event for many years already, you may be considering refreshing it by shaking up its format.

So, whether that’s having more workshops or small group discussions, or more larger scale lectures. Whatever format you’re thinking about, you can put that list out to your respondents to ask them what they would prefer if they were going to attend.

Event logistics

Do you know what’s the best days for your events? Do your customers prefer to attend during the week or at the weekend? Do you know what type of venue and location most of your customers prefer?

These sorts of logistical details can literally make or break your event, so it’s good to be able to meet your audiences’ preferences to the best of your abilities.

The great thing about an event planning survey, is that it’s ideal for asking these types of questions to potential attendees.

Identify your audiences' level of experience

If your attendees are to get the most value from your event you need to ensure its pitched at the right level for them. This is especially true if you’re running a training seminar or workshop.

Whether novice, intermediate or advanced. If you can scope out through your survey questions what level of experience the majority of your attendees are likely to have, you can ensure your course materials are best tailored to meet their needs.

This is really important, as the relevance of your subject matter and materials will be crucial in determining the success of your event and the value attendees can obtain from it.

Recruit event contributors

Depending on your type of event, you may be looking for contributors to help with it. This can be especially true if you work or a not-for-profit organization.

Survey potential attendees to see if they’re interested in participating or volunteering. This is also a great time to ask, if you need speakers, judges, or panelists for your event.

If any respondent indicates their interest in contributing, you can then trigger a follow-up question to prompt them for their contact information.

Gather additional suggestions

Finally, you may like to include an open textbox question at the end of your survey to collect any other suggestions for your event. While some respondents may skip this question, you may get some great ideas that you did not think of.

Final thoughts

Whatever event you have in mind, it’s important to maintain an attendee-first mentality, particularly in your planning.

Fortunately, if you reach out to them with a survey, you should be able to uncover exactly what they like and want to see, rather than trying to second-guess it. And if you act on this and deliver what your attendees want in your next event, this one and your future events should generate even greater success.

Get the feedback you need with the right event survey templates

Getting feedback from potential attendees before they register for your event, helps ensure you deliver what they want and makes your event more successful, but only if you’ve asked them the right questions. Luckily, having drawn on our many years of experience in the survey industry, we’ve been able to create a raft of fully customizable event survey templates to give you a heads up on the sorts of questions you should ask.

Find out more

Get started and create your first survey

If you would like more information then please get in touch.