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Rule Rule 2

Think ‘Return on Investment’ to define the value your event creates

The concept of return on investment (ROI) or return on objectives (ROO) is growing in the training industry and no doubt will grow in the conference industry. How you measure the return is challenging. There are two perspectives you need to consider.

  1. For the host organization – someone is paying the bills. What is important to them? Generally it involves some form of change in the behaviors, knowledge or attitudes of participants.
  2. For the participants – the individuals invest their time (and money) to attend. What do they need to learn or experience to feel that the conference offers value?

The bottom line for both differs but is equally important. According to Meeting Planners International the overall conference industry has been slow to focus on ROI for the millions of dollars that are invested in conferences. Too many people think that increasing ROI means cutting costs. While this is true, it reflects only half of the ROI equation. The other half focuses on creating more return.

Questions for conference designers

  • What is the bottom line for your event?
  • What is the bottom line for your participants?
  • How would they measure the return on their investment?

Insight from the book

The challenge to the conference industry

‘I cannot help but observe that most conference participants admit that they attend conferences, make notes and never look at them again. If people are not looking at their notes, the odds are good that the value of the event and its speakers will not last long.’

Ed Bernacki