Event evaluation

1. Definition
An event as defined here is a systematically planned happening or action on the part of an organization or institution designed to reach the largest possible audience or section of the public, which uses elements with a high attention value to achieve that end, e.g., music, billboards, happenings and similar. Event evaluation is analysis of the efficiency and efficacy of such events using a range of empirical methods. Event evaluation measures investigate impact at all levels.

2. Applications
Event evaluation can be performed for all of an organization's events, e.g. trade fair participations, open days, gala evenings, exhibitions, seminars and conferences.
Investigation can determine how many people took part in the event or heard of it (output), whether the event achieved the defined goals among the chosen target groups (outcome) and the efficiency or cost-effectiveness of the event in comparison with other communication measures. The financial success (outflow) can be determined for instance if the event was associated with direct purchasing actions (trade fairs, sales events, etc.).

3. Conduct
Requirements for event evaluation are:

  • Define target groups to be reached
  • Define goals (e.g. contact figures)
  • Define desired benefit (impact on target groups)
  • Count the cost.

Evaluation is conducted in three phases: before, during and after the event. Before the event, the baseline values for the respective endpoints are determined, for example by surveys (e.g. Image).
During the event, visitor analysis is performed, i.e. output determination. This involves determining the number of contacts by counting the participants. It also involves observing visitor structure, i.e. distribution of participants among the various target groups. Observation and surveys on event performance additionally discloses reasons for the success of the event, and hence provides pointers for improvements. At trade fairs in particular, records of talks are useful in terms of noting the interests and contact details of discussion partners, and for use after the trade fair for noting which talks finally resulted in closure of a deal. In this manner, a financial success (outflow) can be attributed to the event.
After the event, measurement of contacts with non-participants (output) takes place, i.e. target persons who did not attend the event but were reached through media coverage and advertising. Media response analysis is performed for this purpose. The key element of evaluation is however repeat survey of the target group by endpoint, in order to determine the impact (outcome) of the event by comparison with the baseline value. Finally, the efficiency of the event versus other measures will be assessed on the basis of the outcome measures given below.
The time and cost of evaluation depends on the duration of the event and size of the target population. Approximately one month should be earmarked in each case for pre- and post-event surveys.
The shortcomings of event evaluation reside in the high workload. Another drawback is that the development of outcome measures to gauge success is not yet complete.

4. Indicators 

  • Contact cost ratio = event cost / number of target persons reached

The contact cost ratio expresses the costs necessary to achieve one person in the target group. The lower the ratio, the more efficient the event.

  • Equivalent communication value

This calculates the costs that would have arisen by attempting to reach the target groups through the use of other measures, and compares that figure with the event costs. If the event costs are lower than the equivalent communication value, the event is efficient.

5. Service providers in Germany
FairControl, Gräfelfing
Institute for Event Management (IFE), Iserlohn

6. Links

7. Further reading
Paine, Katie D. (2007): Measuring Public Relationships, Berlin (NH).

8. Case studies

Please send us short texts from your projects on this topic in the same structure as the existing case studies, and more information (pdf or links) on the methods employed in as much detail as possible.
Contact: redaktioncommunicationcontrolling.de

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