Corporate events often feel like a double-edged sword: you know you’re getting value from the event, but you also know that it isn’t free. The easiest way to justify the expense of any event is to understand how it positively affects the bottom line. In fact, if you’re doing it right, corporate events can provide a significant return on the investment. The question is: how do you show ROI for corporate events?

Most people have an intuitive sense that when a corporate event goes well, it will generate benefits for the company. For an executive, intuition isn’t enough when it comes to running a business; they need to know that the expense of running a corporate event is going to pay back in a tangible way. This isn’t just smart business sense, it’s good common sense. Why would you continue to do activities that don’t have a positive impact on the company?

Here are three steps for demonstrating the ROI from your corporate events.

1. Define Your Goals

The first step to measuring the return on any investment is having a clear understanding of the desired outcomes. If you don’t know why you are organizing or attending a corporate event, you are wasting time and money. In many cases, the objective of a large company meeting is to change behaviors. This is important because behaviors are measurable; thoughts and feelings are not. It’s not enough for participants to provide positive feedback about the event. They have to implement the changes you want to see for the meeting to be truly effective.

Follow these 5 best practices to maximize the investment in your next corporate  event.

Clearly define your goals for the gathering early in the planning process so that every activity related to the corporate event supports those objectives. For example, say you have set a goal to increase profits by a certain percentage in the next three years without adding additional sales staff. You have determined that in order to reach that goal, you need to improve efficiency within your existing workforce. You know that you can’t just tell people to be more efficient, you have to give them the skills and the motivation to use them. The objectives of your corporate event would be to demonstrate the importance of improving efficiency and to give people the practical skills to help you reach your corporate goals.

2. Define Your Metrics

You can’t measure success if you don’t know what metrics to monitor. In some cases, it’s easy to determine which metrics to use. For example, if you are upgrading a website and you want to know if the transition was successful, you can monitor the number of new visitors or the number of pages visitors click through when they arrive on site. Behaviors and intangible concepts can be more difficult to measure, but it’s not impossible.

Consider the example of increasing sales.. Say you identified that managers create bottlenecks because they do not effectively delegate as a major issue that was contributing to poor efficiency in the office. Your corporate event might include training sessions that:

  • Enhance managers delegation skills
  • Teach individuals how to communicate more openly about their workloads
  • Foster teamwork by building trust between all members of the department

To measure success, you identify a handful of tasks or projects that have been hampered by the bottlenecks and define the metrics that make the most sense for each task. For example, if your billing department is consistently stalled because project managers don’t approve invoices in a timely manner, you can measure the number of days it takes to internally process an invoice as a metric. You can also use cash flow as a metric to monitor how these behavior changes financially impact the business.   

3. Start Measuring… And Don’t Stop

No matter how motivated people are after a successful corporate event, the return to the real world always has an impact. Individuals can easily fall back into old habits if they have no incentive to make a lasting change.  To use the “improve sales” goal that we’ve considered previously, here are some key metrics to measure:

  • Sales metrics, like close rates, average deal size, time to close a deal
  • Efficiency metrics, such as the number of late tasks in project management system, number of late invoices processed by the billing department, workload of team members versus managers

Before your event, benchmark these metrics for a certain time period. If your goal is based on 12 months, benchmark for the previous 12 months. If it’s a six month initiative, use the previous six months. After your event, do the same at a logical interval, for example, every month.

By constantly measuring, you not only keep people on task, but you also have a consistent eye on your ROI. When appropriate, share metrics with the team to demonstrate that you are monitoring progress, and always celebrate successes to keep people engaged and inspired to continue making the changes you want to see. Remember that your event is just one step in the big picture of changing behaviors - incorporate additional opportunities to reinforce the lessons learned early and often!

You can’t always measure the success of corporate events in dollars and cents, but you can (and should) always clearly communicate your goals, define metrics to help you monitor progress, and continue measuring those metrics long after the corporate event is over.   

What key metrics do you use to show ROI from your events? Join the conversation in the comments section.

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