When can a meeting be considered over? Is it when everyone is saying goodbye and leaving? Well, not really: great planners keep working to improve their results, to develop their work relationships and professional reputation.
Planners, you can’t avoid the “after”. Plan it in advance.
“An event’s conclusion is as important as its planning,” says Cathy Key, consultant and author of books and articles on meeting planning.
After an event, planners should gather feedback, evaluate what worked and what didn’t, calculate the ROI, create expectations for the next edition of the event, and last but not least, lay the foundation to get the job the following year, too.
However, if we don’t want this part to never end, we should know and plan in advance what we need to do and where we want it to go. Here is a list of 7 things you should never overlook.
1. Say “thank you”.
Being appreciated for what you have done always feels nice. Saying “thank you” to every person who has contributed and participated in the event is probably unexpected, which means you’ll definitely get noticed. Don’t forget anyone: staff, volunteers, speakers, venue personnel, suppliers, sponsors, entertainers, hosts…, and obviously attendees. An email is a bare minimum; a short video with your thanks, and perhaps even a photo gallery of the event, works a lot better.
The hardest part is making a list and finding everyone’s addresses: a grueling job if you do it last minute, but quite easy and rewarding if you plan it in advance.
2. Request feedback.
Comments are crucial for future events, as they can prove you have achieved every goal. Most attendants will be happy to give you feedback during the meeting, as it will make them feel valued.
Gather it in different ways: via the event’s website or app, on notes, blackboards, or on the classic evaluation forms; start discussions on social media, use polls.
It’s essential that all this is done during or right after the event. A week after is already too late!
3. Use social media.
Usually, planners use social media before and during the event, and they abruptly stop once it’s over. But if the event was a successful one, you’ll have a lot of topics to cover, and tons of material (PowerPoint slides, Excel files, photos, video clips…) that, if not used again, become completely useless. Ask someone to collect and arrange these things, and publish some of them on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. The event’s effect will last longer, and your visibility and reputation will grow larger.
4. Check the numbers.
Within a few days, you should have a report on the budget management and ROI ready for your client. This too can become an impossible mission if you postpone it. But if you prepare a template from the very beginning, and you diligently fill it out, you’ll have it finished right after the event. Event management software helps a lot.
5. Debrief with your team.
Do it as soon as possible, but establish the date before the event. Otherwise, people will be too busy with their new projects to attend it.
Ask yourselves the following questions:
a) did we achieve our goals?
b) what went right, and what didn’t? why? how can we improve (for the next event)?
c) what have we learned as a team?
Acknowledge everyone’s successful ideas, and emphasize that you win and make mistakes as a team. Debriefing can be a great motivation tool. Use it.
6. Update your website.
There is nothing sadder than seeing a website abandoned right after an event. It doesn’t make you look good. The event’s website should tell the meeting’s success and show its best moments. If you can, don’t forget to announce the dates for the following year’s edition.
7. Review the technological aspect of the event.
Technology has become essential in the MICE industry, for organization, communication, and recreational purposes. There are no events without technology, and planners simply cannot avoid it.
Once again, ask your staff and suppliers what worked best, how much time it took, what problems you encountered, what went horribly wrong (if anything did; hopefully not ☺).
If you have to look for alternative solutions, better start now!
For a smart planner, every event becomes an opportunity for professional growth, to develop new work relationships, and to gain exposure. Your success depends on how the meeting went, but also on how you have dealt with the “post-event”. Everyone – from clients, to participants, to your staff – will remember this last part, as it demonstrates your above-standard professionalism.
But the trick is: start thinking about it early on!