It's 7am Monday morning. You wake up, grab a coffee and read an email from your senior events planner telling you how Saturday's event at your venue was an incredible success.
At this point it would be very easy to think "job done" and go about the rest of your day. Instead you pause and ask yourself - how does my team actually know the event was successful?
In our experience, most venues get event feedback from just one source, the event organiser. Of course they're going to give good feedback, it was their event, they planned it and unless something went dramatically wrong, it was always going to be how they wanted it. However, let's say this was a corporate event for 300 people, what did the other 299 guests think of the experience?
For all you know, the food could have been cold for half the guests and one of your waitresses could have been incredibly rude - but if this isn't being fed back, it won't be corrected.
So what's the solution? Our recommendation is the use of online survey software, and our preferred solution is SurveyMonkey. Below I'll explain why, and how it can benefit your venue.
Guest feedback is vitally important. It's the key to understanding your target market, their wants, needs and expectations, and it can provide insights that shape future business and marketing plans.
Typically for venues there are three stages of event survey: Planning, Real-Time & Post Event
Stage 1 - Event Planning
Survey software helps decision making become quick and (reasonably) painless. Rather than lots of back and forth questioning over email or phone, you can obtain all the event information you need in a single form. This can be as simple or complex as required, from just confirming headcount to gathering info on dietary restrictions or individual requests.
Event planning surveys give you a head start on guest expectations. Used as a research tool, surveys provide insights that enable you to plan the perfect occasion. Collected data can also be saved for future sales and marketing efforts, such as finding out where they originally saw your venue.
Stage 2 - Real-Time Surveys
Also known as "mid-event" or "during-event" surveys, this stage is about two things, encouraging engagement and gaining immediate feedback. Here are a few examples:
- An event includes a meal. Between the starter and main course, have servers use a tablet to conduct a short and sweet survey. This way, you can immediately make corrections there and then before the meal's second half begins.
- You're running a corporate conference. Between speakers, ask attendees to quickly complete a live survey on their mobiles about the event so-far. This feedback can then be shared with upcoming speakers who can adapt their talk accordingly.
- Guests want to access your free wifi during an event. When they try to connect ask them first to complete a poll including their email address. This way you'll get live feedback and a possible future sales lead!
More often than not, venues only ever have contact details for the event planner. We 100% recommend obtaining contact details for all attendees whenever possible, and real-time surveys provide the perfect opportunity to collect this info.
Stage 3 - Post Event Surveys
Of all the stages, post event surveys are the most important to action. This is because, using a well considered email strategy you can reach event goers just a day or two after the occasion, and get fresh feedback on their overall experience.
If you only did one survey, we'd recommend this option, as information collected will encompass the entire event from start to finish. It is also the perfect opportunity to build a relationship with each event guest individually, which if incentivised, could lead to future bookings.
SurveyMonkey report over 25+ million business customers worldwide, with 99% of the Fortune 500 using this survey platform and over 3 million survey responses collected every day . Their mission states:
"We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get at the knowledge you need to make smart, informed choices" 
There are five dominant reasons we love SurveyMonkey:
- Ease of use. SurveyMonkey is a very accessible and user friendly platform. Whilst it can be made more complex, it's not overly complicated to get up and running with a new survey. Their survey builder is logically laid out and offers many design features, although you need a paid plan to take advantage of all options available.
- Templates. They provide over 200 expertly written surveys covering pretty much every subject you could imagine. So whether time is limited or imagination is lacking, there's probably a template available to help get you started.
- Tips & Advice. SurveyMonkey offer a massive amount of online support, with tips and best practices on everything from the dos and don'ts of question writing, to help analysing survey results and next best steps.
- Integrations. In this digital world it's becoming vital that software can talk to other platforms, and SurveyMonkey does this brilliantly. For example: Integrate with MailChimp for your email marketing, Eventbrite to contact event attendees, SalesForce for enriched CRM data or select one of the many other integrations available.
- Reporting. SurveyMonkey provide advanced but understandable analytics data for every survey you create; meaning that not only can you share stunning surveys, you can also discover exactly how to use data gathered wisely.
So why are venues using survey software? It's because they can collect vital information about their venue and organised events otherwise unavailable, that can assist in decision making across all areas of a hospitality business. It also enables greater greater levels of guest satisfaction, which can lead to retention, referrals and brand loyalty.
At LeadDigital we can help with all your venues survey requirements. Starting with an initial consultation to develop a strategy plan, we support survey designs, implementation, integrations with other platforms and results reporting.