Lately, everyone is talking about 'Big Data'. But what is it exactly? Is it all just hype or can you really use it? And to what extent can 'Big Data' contribute to improving your events? A study was recently conducted in the United States on the use of data in the event industry. We outline some of the interesting facts that came to light.
Big Data is a term used in marketing that refers to all structured and unstructured data that you can collect on different platforms. Where events are concerned, for around a decade you could only gather data about your participants on registration (name, address, age etc) or in evaluation forms. However, with the evolution of technology and its impact on events, you are now able to gather a lot more information. Think of online subscriptions or ticket sales, email marketing, RFID chips, social media, mobile apps, ... All these tools are filled with data. But what do you do with it?
Expo and Global Experience Specialists (US) conducted a study on how event organizers and exhibitors gather and analyze data, and use it to improve their business. They summarize their findings in an interesting infographic (below this article). Their main findings are summarized here:
- In general, exhibitors find that they deal more effectively with customer data than organizers do. 37% use it in a very thorough way compared to 30% of organizers.
- Only half of exhibitors collect basic information about participants such as demographics, expectations about the event, evaluations, areas of interest etc. Organizers collect little or no information on the type of information that participants are looking for.
- Yet organizers gather more data about their participants than their exhibitors. 40% are interested in the basic data (demographics, industry, sales etc) of the exhibitors but only a quarter work with before-and-after surveys which address the needs and satisfaction of exhibitors. The same number also use that information to create valuable information about the event.
- Organizers especially tend to look at data that better defines their target audience. Only 20% of exhibitors analyze data to better match the content of their stand to their participants.
- The same number of organizers as exhibitors (22% and 12% respectively) share performance data with decision makers. There is still much room for improvement for both parties in the way that they share information in terms of time, sources etc.
'Big Data' certainly creates many opportunities for the event industry. However, the big challenge is to determine what data you actually need, how to analyze it, and what exactly to do with it. And that very much depends on your goals. Do you want to boost your number of participants, make your operation more efficient, increase your ROI, or enhance the experience of your participants? Only when you have clearly defined goals, can you effectively process those mountains of available data.