We all make mistakes, yes, even in the most “perfectly” designed events. Unexpected things come up all the time that we cannot anticipate. But how we learn from those mistakes defines whether we improve and grow as a business. Where the old saying ‘no news is good news’ might suggest that everyone at your event had a blast and walked away with a belly full of delicious food, inspiring conversations and a lot of laughs, it could also mean that you’re either A) not asking for feedback at all or B) your surveys aren’t asking the right questions to give constructive takeaways.
Having difficult conversations is hard, but it’s important to be open and honest with all stakeholders to maximize continued relationships and improving on the successes of your events.
1. Ask A Variety Of People
Everyone will have a different experience at your event, so it’s essential to get a variety of perspectives. Ask for feedback from your team, vendors, attendees and volunteers. Employee feedback will offer insights into what worked and what didn’t work in the event planning itself. I can’t be everywhere at once, so I rely on my team to be the eyes and ears on the ground.
Attendees have a customer-centric view of the day, so they can tell you how it ran from the perspective that we built the event for. How was the food, service, flow etc.?
Vendors offer insights into how the communication, setup and collaboration were with you as the host. Did you communicate all of the venue and load in requirements ahead of time? Did vendors feel supported with their meal breaks?
In my experience, people are far more likely to offer real truths if they can do so anonymously. Create a safe, open platform to share and let them speak freely without concern of it becoming personal. When you sit down with a cup of coffee and a pastry ready to read the post-event survey questions, remember, it’s about improving!
One downside to making surveys anonymous is that you can’t follow up to ask for further information on an issue or provide a direct apology. Try including an optional ‘name’ and ’email’ field for further follow ups at the beginning, but clearly state that the survey is anonymous should they wish to remain so.
3. Don’t Wait – Ask For Feedback Now
Prepare your questions for feedback in advance to send out shortly after the event. Make the most of the event being fresh in your attendees’ minds, as they’re more likely to remember the small details. I debrief with the BB Events team internally as well as with my Client within two weeks of the event.
If the time and space is appropriate, ask for feedback before attendees even leave the event! You’re bound to get responses.
4. Accept Accountability and Take On Learnings
I use debriefs as a relationship-building task. It’s saying to guests and vendors, “Hey, these are the positives and this is where we messed up. Next time, we’ll do X, Y, and Z to improve.” Nobody expects perfection but if you keep making the same mistakes time and time again, then your clients and vendors will notice. Learn from it!
And that’s what I’ll be doing this month at BB Events. With the Spring event season closed, I’m wrapping up and tying a neat little bow on the last few months. I’ll review each Spring event to see how it aligned with our objectives and value pillars to ensure we’re working with a mission focus.
At BB Events, we continue to take on the feedback of our previous events and look forward to see how we can make better, more impactful events next time. We’re now looking ahead to our Fall Fundraising season. Is it time for you to start planning? Get in touch with us today and we can guide you through the process!