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2010.09.03

Virtual Meetings Results – The Dirty Little Secret about Digital Events

Measuring the Impact of Meetings:  From In Person to Virtual and In Between
Over the past couple of years the economic pressure has made every company rethink and reevaluate almost every expense line in the budget.  Coupled with negative media scrutiny of “boondoggles”, extravagant executive retreats, decadent meetings and events – the “meetings” industry has been hit hard. 

If you traditionally operated meetings or events of any sort, the rules that govern their design and implementation changed fast.

Hoping to avoid not only the expense but the unplanned scrutiny of major meetings, planners and executives have been looking for ways to reduce the costs and still realize the benefits of getting their teams together to train, share best practices, network, build esprit de corps  and in general, enhance engagement during this tough business cycle.

These issues have given rise to more companies considering virtual events as well as hybrids where there is an in person audience and a virtual audience.  But this is still new territory for most companies and meeting planners and questions about their effectiveness abound.

The Virtual Meeting and Event Dirty Little Secret
Everybody is asking but nobody is proving whether digital events are effective. There you have it, the industry's dirty little secret. It reveals a huge gap that exists and is currently being filled by using extensive web analytics-style metrics that measure activity such as logins, streaming content and downloads. Don't get me wrong. These are all important measures but they only measure activity and not the impact on the person seated in front of the monitor on the receiving end of the meeting or event.

This is exactly why The ROI of Engagement Team is  working with partners developing the tools necessary for planning, operating and most importantly – measuring the impact and effect of virtual and hybrid events.

Stepping Up
Most meeting and event planners know that measuring audience satisfaction is a key element of measuring an event’s impact.  But we also know this doesn’t satisfy most CFOs, CEOs or other executives.  These executives want to know if the event did anything to really drive engagement, and ultimately, business impact, revenues and profits.  

With virtual and hybrid events, the event sponsor can’t interact with some or all the attendees so it is even more difficult to judge whether the event was successful.  Because of a poor “line of sight” virtual and hybrid events need more analysis.

Virtual Edge Summit
Working with the Virtual Edge Summit, we applied the comprehensive ROI MethodologyR to measure their “hybrid” event held in February of 2010.  The initial study measured what we call Level 1 and 2 – Reaction/Satisfaction, and Learning/Understanding.  Further work will be done to address the next three levels in the methodology: Application, Impact, and ROI.

To see our initial findings for Phase I of the analysis click here to download the white paper.  The findings are quite insightful. You can also watch a great discussion about virtual engagement and ROI I completed with Steve Gogolak @sgogolak with Cramer @cramermarketing.  Dennis Shiao @dshiao with INXPO @INXPO also wrote about the topic. 

 

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It's true that all meetings should be productive. Satisfaction is one of the keys to productivity and effectiveness. What if all of the participants were to give output based on the digital data which have been submitted in the virtual conference table? That way, everyone's going to have to work together and brainstorm, just like what people do during typical in-person meetings.

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