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12 posts categorized "Engagement"


Deja Vu, All Over Again

Rewind to 2008. The economy stumbles, confidence is rattled, anger flares and finger pointing begins in the meeting and event world. "Corporate extravagance! Waste! Boondoggle!" And leadership was left unable to defend their investment in people, unable to prove the ROI of meetings, incentives and events.

Fast forward to 2012. Things are looking up; attendees, flight loads, occupancy, spend, etc.  There is cautious optimism in the air - things appear to be coming back!

This time around, wouldn't it be nice to be prepared for the next cycle? If you could prove the value of your company's investment in people, could we prevent the manic cycle of boom and collapse we've experienced over the years. We believe the key to doing this is to measure the results of all your meetings and events. And in some cases, actually measure ROI.

Measurement is fundamentally a process improvement tool. Armed with the ability to prove value, though, it can effectively serve as a way to defend existing programs and justify future investment.

So, what are you doing to build the business case for your organization's investment in people? We would like to know.

Join us while we teach The why's and how's of measurement at our five day ROI Certification Course.


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. 



Did The Impact of Your Meeting or Event Last?

Downloadpart1 The other day we introduced the case study from our fictionally named, but very real company, Allsante. The study proved that there was a positive ROI for their event targeting independent insurance brokers.

In my last post, we discussed the importance of planning carefully if you plan to measure to ROI. This planning will determine when data should be collected and how.

High Scores Immediately After the Event

Most meetings and events have an initial uptick on the “engagement” meter.  The participants, fresh from connecting with new people and being exposed to new ideas, are in a great frame of mind.  In fact it is pretty rare when a professionally planned meeting has low scores on traditional satisfaction surveys.  

The insight gainedfrom these immediate post-event surveys is good for guiding improvement.  The findings help you plan logistics better, update your speaker list, identify new and different content for future meetings and events, etc.

What this information doesn't tell you is whether all the information, brand-building, engagement events, networking, etc., had any lasting impact.  If all your effort and work only lasts until the survey is turned into the hospitality desk – it’s probably a pretty marginal investment.

When measuring business impact and ROI, carefully determine when and how to collect the necessary data to determine the results over time.

Measure the Half-life Of the Meeting

Like radioactive elements their initial burst of radioactivity is powerful and strong – and then over time it becomes less and less powerful.  Your meetings and events are similar.  The initial impact is strong but it will decay in importance over time.  It’s natural and to be expected.  However, if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck you need to understand the rate of “decay.”  

Three months from now, how well was key content retained?  Have your attendees done anything different because of your investment?  Understanding the return on your event requires that you find out to what degree you’ve been able to influence behavior – behavior that will ultimately lead to results.

Our case study included a 3-month pulse check on the Allsante event.  The results from this questionaire showed that we did have some decrease in some of the key factors we were measuring. Not to worry, though, because once armed with the evidence we were able to determine what gaps existed and how we could fill them.  As a result, we were able to extend the half-life of the meeting’s impact!

Do you measure the “decay” of your meeting?  The effort required to follow up with attendees and check the half-life of your message is minimal and key to understanding how to sustain the impact on behavior and mindshare.

Next… the ROI question!

And don't forget if more info on this topic check out our ROI of Engagement Summit at the upcoming Motivation Show October 12, 2010.


Can You Really Measure the ROI of Your Channel Conference Event?

Questionroi That’s the question our client asked.  

They were cutting budgets across the board and the VP of sales said “no, I’m not cutting my meetings.” Most of you who conduct meetings and conferences, whether for internal employees or for your channel, have been in the same situation..  The bottom line is you need to know whether your expense is justified.  

Rest assured – you can measure ROI and you can prove that your efforts pay off.  

The following is a brief introduction to a case study prepared by the ROI of Engagement team and validated by Allan Schweyer, Chairman and Head of Research for the Enterprise Engagement Alliance.  More posts will follow as we focus on specific areas of the results of our study, but to give you some background…

An Alias but A Real Event With Real Results in the Real World

In 2009 the ROI of Engagement team took on the challenge of PROVING there was a measurable ROI associated with a conference for independent insurance brokers.  In order to protect certain proprietary information we referred to the client as “Allsante” – a made up name (but the results are not!)  The goals of their conference were: 

  • Increase reseller engagement
  • Increase trust
  • Drive loyalty and better relationships
  • Increase awareness and product knowledge
  • Update and enhance training and selling skills

I’m guessing most of your meetings have similar themes.  However, the most important objective and the one we typically have the most trouble measuring was:


Change behavior among resellers so that they would increase Allsante presentations, increase quotations, highlight Allsante product advantages over others, and ultimately increase sales of Allsante small business and ancillary products.

That’s the tough one.

Three Phases

The ROI of Engagement team conducted a three-phase analysis of the event.  

  • Phase I – Reaction, satisfaction and planned action (how did attendees think and feel about the meeting, was it worth their time and did they plan on taking action.)
  • Phase II – Application and implementation or behavior change (did attendees do anything with the takeaways?)
  • Phase III – Business impact and return on investment (did more get sold and what was the payback related to expenses?)

Most companies have no problem measuring satisfaction. In fact, most events include a smiley face survey that asks how attendees liked the meeting/conference, if there were enough breaks, was the coffee good, or were the speakers interesting.  But that’s not enough.  We asked about critical engagement factors including trust, skill building, confidence and relationships.

The Key Element of Measuring Event/Conference ROI

Bulletproofsmall A key element in measurement is “what happens next.”  In other words you need to begin with the end in mind and plan on doing your analysis over time.  

You can’t just consider the smiley faces you receive immediately following an event.  Let’s face it, most event satisfaction surveys are pretty positive.  Attendees are on a post-event high; they’ve partied with other professionals, made new contacts, learned some interesting things and, in general, had a few days away from the grind.  

A big gap in typical traditional surveys is they don’t tell you whether anything really changed with attendees. That has to be measured after time has elapsed after the event.  

Before we get into the results of our Allstante case study in future posts internalize that key point.

In order to credibly measure ROI you need to look at business impact over time.

The event objectives and data collection methods need to be thought through before implementation.  Without planning you can’t connect the dots from satisfaction to behavior change to ROI.  It’ s a bit more work – and something most planners and executives don’t want to consider when they’re involved in the seemingly endless number of logistical issues – but it is critical to developing a the business case for your event.

Stay tuned for more.  Or better yet - subscribe and be notified when we post the next installment.  We will also have the case study for you to download in future installments.

And if you really want to dig into this topic check out our ROI of Engagement Summit at the upcoming Motivation Show October 12, 2010.


Face-to-Face vs. Virtual Meetings; Come Together, Right Now.

Panel_112Hx221W.The Virtual Edge Summit I attended this week was amazing. I was genuinely impressed with the high caliber, entrepreneurial, visionary group of people that I met. For example, after presenting about how to measure results including ROI of virtual events, the conversations that ensued were challenging and relevant. Many seemed ready to develop ways to add value to an industry that still has a hard time proving the value and ROI of virtual meetings and events. It was energizing and just plain fun. 

The content from all the presenters was also high caliber. I don’t normally do this after attending conferences but I am planning on viewing the sessions I couldn’t attend. You’ll find them in about ten days at 

Many of the sessions were eye opening. I saw beautiful 3D environments, the ability to translate chats so you can speak with people around the globe without language barriers, fun and challenging games, team building activities, powerful reporting tools and more. The possibilities are enough to make your head spin. I found it easy to dream about future events complete with all kinds techno bells, whistles. 


And then, all of a sudden, my visions of a technologically enhanced virtual future crashed. I thought, “Hey, we have work to do, and a lot of it!” Around the globe companies are trying to recover from the 2009 recession and their people are the just the ones to do it. And quite frankly, they don’t give a hoot about technological marvels if you can’t help them achieve greater success.

Then my thoughts drifted to last week. I traveled to and served on a panel at the NBTA Masters Program I was with 200 of the most influential travel industry executives and it was all about travel. (Read my post about The Masters here and here) And this week at Virtual Edge Summit it was a similar kind of group and it was all about virtual meetings and events.

So, what is the best solution to engage the people you rely on to succeed? Travel? Or virtual? I’ve come to believe that the answer is both. 

You see, it’s not about ballrooms and airline seats. It’s not about whizz-bang technology platforms for a virtual event. It’s about the people. It’s about engaging people and vision casting and influencing how your people think about your product/service and building relationships and collaborating and innovating and building new skills and more. You get the picture.

And in my opinion, the best place to begin a meaningful dialog between the travel people and the virtual people is with “hybrid” experiences; meetings, conferences, trade shows, expos, exhibitions, summits, events of all kinds that include in person as well as remote audiences. By working together, these two seemingly diametrically opposed industries will extend the reach for their clients, drive better ROI and, in so doing, capture more business. Together. 

So call me crazy, but I think the two conferences should meet concurrently. What about you?


Embracing Engagement in a Virtual World

VESAudience20100222 At the NBTA Masters Program held in Washington D.C. last week, some concern was voiced over the impact of virtual meeting and event solutions on the travel industry. I can understand. The travel industry has been hit about as hard as any over the last 18 months. In fact, the thorn is still in the lion’s paw. (Check out my views in the February 18 post.)

Is the concern warranted? According to Joel Secundy, U.S. Department of Commerce, travel and tourism is a $1.3 trillion contributor to the economy, employing 8.2 million.

Let’s try and figure out this virtual experience stuff.

According to Malcolm Lotzof, CEO, InXpo, Inc. there is a natural progression of virtual event savvy. First there are webinars, then virtual events, and eventually, through effective use of portals and repeated usage, community development. Some interesting statistics shared were that 27% of companies are using virtual experience solutions and another 15% are exploring their use.

So are we all eventually just gonna ditch meetings and go completely virtual?

Kathy Sulgit, Director of Corporate events, Cisco Systems, Inc. shared quite a bit of insight. Interestingly enough, no physical conferences have been replaced by virtual events and nearly half of her conferences include a virtual component. In fact, when virtual options are added to physical events, attendance is not cannibalized!

So while the travel industry lion still groans from the pain inflicted by the thorn of the 2009 recession, I have a crazy thought… maybe its virtual technologies that can be just the thing necessary to remove it.

Isn’t that an interesting scenario?  Virtual and physical meeting and event providers working side-by-side. And wouldn’t it be great if the focus wasn’t on the means, but the end.  Engagement of audiences.

VESSign20100222This week I am at the Virtual Edge Summit held in February 22-23 Santa Clara, California put on by the Virtual Edge Institute.

This is one of these “hybrid” events. You can attend physically OR virtually. The attendee can decide. And the really cool part of our involvement is that we’re measuring the results of the summit. And when we do, we will compare results for both types of attendees. I am looking forward to what we will learn. We’ll be sure to publish our findings at


2010 UnTrends in Engagement

Now that I have had a chance to assimilate all the 2010 predictions made by all the self-proclaimed pundits, I thought it would be interesting to weigh in on what won’t happen in 2010.


Predictions for What Won’t Happen in 2010


1.     Engagement will prove to be a fad.

Far from it, more and more companies will not only measure engagement but learn new and innovative ways to improve it. In addition, the smartest companies will learn how to apply similar solutions to distribution partners, customers and yes, even suppliers.


2.     Employers will ignore the current decline in engagement measures.

On the contrary, an economy that stabilizes and improves will create an environment where employees will say enough and move on unless the work culture becomes win-win.


3.     Collaboration across functional silos will decline.

Just the opposite, the trend towards collaboration among HR, sales, marketing and operations will demonstrate excellent value and leadership will pay more attention to the continuous effort needed to break down walls and unite functional silos in purpose and action.


4.     Face-to-face meetings will continue to decline in use.

People still do business with people and deferred spending in this area will have its price, a price that will be increasingly difficult to ignore.


5.     Virtual events and meetings will prove to be an interesting experiment but generally ineffective.

The truth, in my opinion, is that the continued advancement in technology and the experimentation that has taken place will prove that meeting virtually can be effective, when objectives are properly matched with the right tool.


6.     The use of group travel for incentives will continue its decline.

I believe that barring any additional monkey-piling from our friends in Washington, incentive travel will grow in usage for one primary reason, it works.


7.     Credible results measurement will prove to be a fad.

When used properly, the insight gained from measuring results of people performance initiatives will drive evidence-based continuous improvement.


8.     Corporate social responsibility will decline in importance.

To the contrary, I think that there is a new paradigm for meetings, events, and incentives. Management gets it and target audiences will expect it.


9.     We’ll all learn how to properly say 2010.

There may be a chance here though. Say it with me, twenty ten.



Social Media & Engagement of Employees or Customers

May I Have Your Attention, Please!

Never before have we been so inundated with messages vying for our attention. Email, texts, blogs, radio, TV, direct mail, print, Twitter, LinkedIn updates, Facebook and more! Add to this the immediate access we have to a virtually unlimited amount of information via the web. It can be overwhelming.

The challenge we all face is how to get our message heard by the people you really want to hear it. It isn’t easy to be heard over the din and it’s not getting any easier.

When I face this complicated task I strive to simplify it. Who needs to/wants to hear your message?  What exactly is your message? Why does your audience want to hear it? And last should be, in my opinion, what is the strategy to get the message out?

Conversations I overhear include, “You have to Tweet!” Or, “You don’t blog? Are you crazy?” Or, “What do you mean you only have three connections on LinkedIn?” Or, you get a puzzled and demeaning glance when someone learns you aren’t on Facebook or have a fan page. Personally, this sounds arrogant and elitist.

Don’t get me wrong. Those are all great tools. The recent Influence Insiders Blog Talk Radio Show reinforced the power of new media channels. It also forced me to think critically about what is right for me and, more importantly, what is right for my clients. If you are wondering how to get attention so your message is heard, the show is worth a listen.

Relative to engagement of employees or customers, I think you should go where they are currently. That will pay short term returns. And for the more leading edge media, even if your audience isn’t there, consider being there when they get there and weigh the benefits of helping lead them into new media types.

From a practical perspective, this means that building engagement with your audience needs to be a thoughtful and deliberate effort. And, if you’re not there yet, fully vet new digital communication channels to maximize your impact. The best way to do this is to get involved in new media channels and just listen. If you’re not doing that, “what are you thinking!”

Listen to Influence Insiders on Blog Talk Radio


Game on!

It's been two weeks since The Motivation Show wrapped up and I'm just getting feet back on the ground.

First of all, it was a blur for my team and me. We formally launched the ROI of Engagement partnership and were involved with presentations, a press conference and more. You can see some of what we were up to here:

The prevailing attitude at the show was puzzling. Actually, there was no consensus. I heard dramatically different opinions from people. It didn’t make sense… we were all experiencing the same event!

Some lamented about attendance. Actually, attendance was pretty good with only a 13% decline year over last year which, all things considered, seems pretty darn good.

Some whined about lack of traffic while others raved about being jammed with high quality attendees. What’s up with that?

I think perspective is one big variable. If you look back, and many can’t seem to get the rearview mirror out of their focus, you see an industry that had the stuffing kicked out of it. Politicians ranted, media monkey-piled, an uninformed public pointed fingers, and programs cancelled. And did I mention umpteen months of consistent economic decline? We lost the battle if you look at it that way.

The perspective I chose was looking forward. In fact, I wrote about it in Incentives and Meetings International Magazine. In the article I discuss how the rules have changed and how we can successfully fight back with the use results measurement. I believe that if you can build the business case for engagement programs we will win the war.

Nope, the war is definitely not over. In fact, I say…

Game on!

You can follow Paul Hebert at and Incentives and Meetings International at


Afraid of ROI?

I recently found disturbing information relating to a form of engagement strategy, recognition programs.


Most believe that creating an environment of appreciation in the workplace is a good idea. In fact, most believe that a strong commitment to recognition pays big dividends.


But how solid is the business case for this type of engagement strategy? Currently, it appears to be fairly weak. In a survey conducted by Recognition Professionals International, “What is the greatest recognition challenge you face?", the third greatest challenge proved to be “Determining ROI”, with “Lack of Funding” and “No Buy-in from Managers” as the top two. (Hmm, I wonder if proving the value of recognition programs would eliminate the other two challenges!)


In another survey participants were asked “Does your company/organization measure the business impact (ROI) of your recognition programs.” Only 21% stated yes.


So, why don’t most companies/organizations measure results? You could be fairly confident in assuming that they don’t know how where to start. The Phillips ROI MethodologyTM changes this but we haven’t gotten that message to everyone yet.


There is another issue. Many are afraid of ROI. For example, I have gone toe-to-toe with engagement industry veterans regarding the relative merits of measuring ROI. When the debate evolves to the irrational, a lightbulb goes on for me. They’re afraid of ROI- afraid that it is too confusing, too complex and maybe most importantly, afraid that their programs won’t measure up! And heaven forbid that they don’t measure up. For the sponsor, they think the program will be in jeopardy. For the vendor, they fear a loss of sales. If they only knew how to position ROI properly and knew how to address the myths associated.


What about you? Are you afraid to measure the results of your engagement programs? Let me know why. I promise to listen.