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The 3 Critical Stages of Event Feedback

Whether you’re a full-time events manager, or you were put in charge of your company’s networking luncheon, collecting feedback is a critical part of event planning and executing a successful event. Unfortunately, a lot of companies only think to collect feedback after an event, but opening up feedback channels before, during and after an event can boost event success.

Whatever your role, and whatever your event, you need information at all stages to succeed. This post will walk you through how and why to collect feedback at every stage so you can create the best possible experience for your attendees.

Pre-Event Feedback

Collecting feedback from invitees before an event can help you accomplish a number of goals. Specifically, pre-event surveys work best when you use them to:

  1. Build excitement
  2. Close the loop with invitees
  3. Involve invitees
  4. Double down on areas of greatest interest

One of our customers uses pre-event surveys to let attendees vote on the speakers for their quarterly meetings. By giving attendees three or four presentations options and asking them to rank them in order of preference, the organizer can select the most popular options and deliver a better experience for attendees. Not only does it give the attendees a voice in who presents, it also gives them a teaser into what will be happening at the event.

It’s worth noting that while pre-event feedback can help drive the development of your event, it shouldn’t drive your entire planning process.

Mid-Event Feedback

Collecting feedback in real-time, while everything is happening, helps you keep a live pulse on your event. By implementing instant feedback channels, you can immediately respond to any needs or crises, and improve the event experience at a moment’s notice.

For example, at the most recent Qualtrics X4 Summit, we had several cameras capturing a variety of shots of the speakers on the main stage. We wanted to make sure the images we projected on the main stage screens were visually stunning and dynamic. Unfortunately, our camera crew had positioned some of the cameras in a way that obstructed our attendees’ views of the stage. Additionally, the cameras had been set up to pan across the room, which ended up causing a lot of distraction for our attendees. We had printed QR codes in the event program so that at any time during the event an attendee could use their mobile device to submit instant feedback. Each time someone filled out that survey, an email alert notified a member of our staff, who was then responsible for responding immediately. Through this mobile-friendly survey, attendees were able to communicate complaints or concerns about the cameras and our team immediately notified the audio/visual crew. Within a matter of minutes, the problem was solved.

Here are just a few ways you can capture real-time feedback during your event:

  1. SMS
  2. QR Codes
  3. Emails
  4. Feedback Stations

You may also want to consider displaying real-time attendee feedback during your event.

Displaying real-time event feedback in centralized areas on display screens can be a great way to foster attendee engagement and show attendees that you listen and respond to their opinions and comments.

Post-Event Feedback

Post-event feedback should be used to measure success and collect information that will fuel the strategy and logistics for your next event. It should also be used in any follow-up items that need to be closed with attendees.

If you hosted a smaller event, you’ll want to send your survey within 24-48 hours so that you’re capturing attendees’ thoughts and opinions before too much time has passed. Surveys like this should generally be short—fewer than 10 questions. If you hosted a multi-day event, you’ll want to treat your survey a little differently.

We use post-event surveys for our user conferences and roundtable events to figure out what went well, what could be improved and what attendees liked and didn't like. This helps us improve our strategy, adjust schedules and set contracts for future events using real feedback and anecdotes from our clients and potential clients.

Every post-event survey will look different with different event survey questions, but post-event surveys should deliver success metrics, expose areas for future improvement or growth and drive future event strategy. Be sure you also include an open-ended question so attendees can leave any feedback they want.

Example Event Feedback Survey Questions

Likelihood to Recommend the Event
event satisfaction survey question

Favorite Aspects of the Event
event aspects question

Event Satisfaction Drivers

event aspects question

Attendee Demographics

attendee demographics question

Open-ended Feedback

event aspects question

Future Event Preferences

event future preferences question


Feedback is an integral part of any event, but too many people only use it at one stage. To really take your events to the next level, it’s essential to do pre-, post- and in-event feedback. That way you can ensure you’re delivering an overall experience that will add value and leave people wanting to come back for more.

Did you know that a prebuilt event feedback XM solution project is included with most Qualtrics licenses? If you aren't a Qualtrics customer yet, you can try out the tool with a free event feedback survey template download to use in our free account.

Download our free event feedback survey template