Last week, leaders from around the exhibition industry came together at the JW Marriott in Chicago for the annual CEIR Predict Conference to discuss what the future holds for the show floor. After the first day of the program kicked off with a discussion of global economic projections featuring Amir Sufi, Ph.D., University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor, the conversation shifted to elements within each show organizer’s control. Marc Pomerleau, Director of Strategy, FreemanXP, challenged trade show organizers to rethink their approaches to one of the most important pieces of the post-event process: surveys.
“So many post-event surveys ask attendees if they were satisfied,” Pomerleau said.
This is a common question, but let’s face the cold reality: being satisfied sets a relatively low bar for an experience. So, rather than working to gauge whether attendees can give the show a passing grade for performance, Pomerleau recommends that everyone in the industry should be asking a different question.
“On a scale of 1 to 5, did this event fundamentally transform the way that you view your industry and your role in that ecosystem?” Pomerleau said.
For trade show organizers and meeting professionals, the findings from this question might not be as pleasing as the results of a typical survey. It’s easy to be “satisfied”, but it’s very difficult to be transformative. That’s a problem, because when something is just satisfactory, it’s easy to skip. You don’t want attendees to think of your event as a place to look at products in booths or listen to presentations in ballrooms. You want them to be able to call it a groundbreaking, game-changing, can’t-ever-miss, tell-all-your-friends-about-it kind of experience.
“When you think about trade shows today, it shouldn’t be about how you’re going to fill the space,” Pomerleau said. “It should be about how you’re going to create that metaphysical space in people’s minds where new possibilities can emerge.”
Before your next trade show, conference or annual meeting approaches, be sure to reevaluate your survey and include the questions that will lead to more powerful answers. Need some help crafting new language? Click here for a helpful webinar.