ROI has become a staple buzzword in the event industry. Everyone uses it. Everyone expects it. But do you really understand what it means? And how to get your hands on it? The thing is it’s different for each event, which maybe is why a clear consistent meaning is so elusive. But one thing’s for sure. If it’s that important, you need to consider it as early as your event concept. If you don’t, you’ll never get your hands on it.


ROI isn’t just a numbers game. There can be so many desired outcomes from an event, and for simplicity here they are divided into two camps:


Hard ROI

Soft ROI


Hard ROI is easily measured through data collated before, during and after the event using event tracking technology.


For example, it could be as simple as increasing attendance (really easy to measure and immediate feedback), to increasing website traffic (monitored on Google Analytics post event for example).


Soft ROI is a little harder to track, but, if you can set specific goals, it can be the most effective in measuring outcome. It could be that an outcome is as simple as ensuring your guests leave the event feeling a certain way – appreciated inspired, informed. The simplest measurement tool is a post-event survey sent with your ‘thank you for attending’ note. You may also run a series of smaller follow up events/seminars and the guests who felt inspired are more likely to attend. Networking on the event with a particular client or prospect may lead to a meeting shortly after and ensuing incoming business.


When setting out ROI objectives try the SMART acronym:








Keep your SMART ROI plan simple by sticking to a maximum of 3 main objectives. .


For example:


Each sales team member to secure 10 new business follow-up meetings

To increase attendance by 25%

To drive more traffic to the website post-event


The next key thing is to ensure you have the right members of your team present at the event and to brief them properly on their objectives. All too often we’ve seen little communication between the various departments involved or affected by the event – if the objective is to secure more sales meetings from the event, then it makes sense that the sales team are briefed and allocated key attendees to make contact with on the event. Without this level of preparation, ROI is difficult to achieve.


ROI objectives also inform your budget. If an objective is to make your guests feel appreciated you may need to include budget for a gift. If your objectives rely highly on data capture, then you’re going to need to invest in event registration technology giving you live reports during the event or data that can be collated after.


To sum up our top ROI tips

Brief EVERYONE on your event objectives and make sure the right team are present at the event

Use SMART to set 3 simple ROI objectives

Make sure your budget matches objectives


image credit: Catherine bcrueltyfree