‘Tis the season for event planning! And whether your event is in the spring, summer, or even early fall, chances are, you’ve already started prepping.
But as much time as you spend on event-related activities prior to the actual event, how much time do you spend on post-event activities, really driving it home?
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: The event isn’t over when people leave the room. To really ensure success - both with your current event and those in the future - several “next steps” have to be completed. In fact, here’s a little checklist:
- Thank your attendees for coming - First and foremost, you NEED to thank your attendees for coming. They took time out of their day and/or night for your association (and likely paid), so a little gratitude is most definitely in order. Send them an email either the day after your event or two days after (but ideally, no later). Let them know you sincerely appreciate their attendance and involvement and hope to see them again in the near future.
- Send your attendees a post-event survey - Along with the aforementioned email, send a survey to your attendees asking for feedback on your event. Did they like the location, the speakers, the overall schedule, etc.? Don’t worry too much about getting negative feedback. Think of it as constructive - it can only make you better! (Not sure what to ask your attendees? Here are nine questions we HIGHLY recommend.)
- Write a handwritten thank you note to your sponsors AND presenters - Your event wouldn’t be possible without your sponsors and presenters. Send them a handwritten thank you note as quickly as possible following your event. And tip: Personalize these notes as much as you can. Reference their specific session, their specific sponsorship tier, or even a particular conversation you had with them. You want them to feel special - because they helped you (and your association) out tremendously!
- Send your sponsors a post-event survey - Just as you should send your attendees a post-event survey, you should also send your sponsors a post-event survey. Were they satisfied with what they got out of the event? Did they find it valuable? What changes would they like to see in the future? It’s crucial that you obtain this type of feedback, because ideally, you want those sponsors involved year after year. (And note: If your event involved exhibitors, you’ll want to send them a post-event survey as well. The more feedback you can get, the better!)
- Post pictures/video on social media - Keep the excitement and engagement going after your event by posting pictures and video on social media. Create an album that members and non-members can see. If non-attendees and prospective members can see what types of events you hold and how fun those events look, that’ll make your association (and future events) all that much more appealing.
- Recap the event in your newsletter and/or on your blog - Just as you likely promoted your event in your association's newsletter, recap it there too! Include a few pictures, mention how many people attended (if it was a high number), reference a few takeaways from the keynote speaker(s), etc. Not only is this good for non-attendees to see, but it helps your attendees relish in that fun. (Bonus points if you can go ahead and include a “Save the Date” for next year!)
- If you had an event app, make sure all the presentations are uploaded and accessible - This depends a little bit on the type of event you had, but if it was educational in nature and featured a variety of breakout sessions, make sure those presentations are available and accessible, at least for a little while (especially if you told attendees they would be). Go through and try opening all of the presentations yourself. Once everything works correctly, let your attendees know. (You want them to obtain max value from your event!)
- Schedule a debrief with your team - Last, but certainly not least, you need to schedule a debrief with your team (preferably once all of the above have been handled). People tend to push this one off 1) because they need to get back to work, and 2) because they don’t typically like talking about “all the things that went wrong.” But debriefs don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) so negative. Unless your event was a total flop, chances are, you had some successes. Talk about those so you can duplicate (and revise) as needed.
Now we’re serious about the importance of debriefs. Not sure what to discuss with your team? Here are a few questions/topics of discussion worth bringing to the table:
- Was the on-site registration process efficient?
- What about online registration prior to the conference? Did members call in/email with problems?
- How was the location?
- Did you have enough space (for people, sessions, etc.)?
- Was parking adequate?
- Were the room layouts effective?
- How were the speakers?
- Did you have enough of a variety of topics?
- Did attendees say they got good takeaways (via the post-event survey you sent out)?
- What were the most popular sessions? Could those be duplicated (or those speakers reinvited) in the future?
- If you had exhibitors, how did that aspect go?
- Did you have enough exhibitors?
- Was booth traffic up to par?
- Were your exhibitors satisfied (via the post-event survey you sent out)?
- Was your sponsorship program successful?
- Did you have enough sponsors?
- Were your sponsors satisfied with the event and the package they chose (via the post-event survey you sent out)?
- Did you stay within budget?
- What could’ve been cut/negotiated better?
Debriefing may mean more work, but it’s worth it if it means increased attendance and engagement in the future!
Want more tips for making sure your next event is a home run? Check out our Complete Guide to Event Planning below! It’s filled with best practices for before, during, and after your next event!