Surveying Attendees About Live Events

Author: Convene Editors       


Wondering how to determine your audience’s willingness to attend a live event? The PCMA Catalyst community discussed what questions to include in a survey.

PCMA’s Catalyst community offers members a platform to ask each other questions, share ideas, or, as the website says, “communicate and collaborate.” Here’s a sampling from a recent Catalyst discussion.

Gauging Interest in Live Events

“Has anyone sent a pre-event survey to attendees to see what the interest level is for live events versus hybrid and/or virtual events?” Marianne Parker, executive director, event management for RE/MAX International, asked the PCMA Catalyst community. “We have an event scheduled for early August and want to see if our attendees are comfortable attending in person or would prefer [a] 100-percent virtual [event]. Any sample questions would be much appreciated.”

We recently sent a survey out for one of our groups. This first survey was very basic — [its purpose was] simply to take their temperature regarding attending a face-to-face meeting in NYC in September:

  • Prior to COVID-19, were you planning to attend the event?
  • Assuming travel is feasible and the city is open to travelers, would you still attend?
  • What barriers are in place from your [organization] to keep you from attending? [We surveyed] a health-care group and approximately 35 percent have travel bans, reduced or eliminated funding, etc.
  • Would you attend a virtual meeting?
  • Would you participate in these specific virtual aspects? [The options were] exhibit hall, commercially supported symposia, one-on-one chats, [and] group chats.
  • Open comments — we received a lot of comments. I think folks were just happy to have been asked.

— Darlene Somers, Senior Meetings Manager, Association Management Center

Another member posted this response with sample questions from his organization:

  • Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, how likely were you to attend the 2020 American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) Annual Conference?
  • Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, were you aware of the online/virtual registration option for the annual conference allowing you to view the conference from your location?
  • If you were considering attending prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, what registration type would you have chosen?
  • At this point in time, how likely were you to attend the 2020 ASNT Annual Conference?
  • If you are considering attending at this point in time, what registration type would you chose?
  • Do you currently have any employer-based travel restrictions?

I also have some questions to break out potential speakers and exhibitors so I can gauge their interest individually.

With my goal of keeping the “pulse” surveys short, I asked exhibitors (and presenters) two questions:

  • Prior to COVID-19 were you planning to exhibit (or present)? This was simply used to segment respondents and trigger the second question.
  • At this time do you plan to:
    1. Exhibit in person
    2. Prefer to explore virtual options
    3. I will not be exhibiting this year.

— Barry Schieferstein, Director, Conferences and Meetings, American Society for Nondestructive Testing

We sent a survey [recently] and in two days got over 700 responses! People were grateful to be asked and provided a lot of good feedback about their willingness/ability to travel this year — 87 percent said no or weren’t sure, and 88 percent are still under a travel ban — as well as what they want out of online programs. I modified this survey to send to our exhibitors as well.

— Mariellen Morris, Director of Conferences, Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research

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