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Is Your Event Healthy? 6 Vital Signs to Watch

It doesn’t matter if you organize a trade show, conference, consumer expo or endurance event, you need to measure the vital signs of your event to monitor its health.

Highlights of this post

  • The six vital signs that every event needs to measure
  • Tips on how to track these vital signs
  • Bonus: 6 additional stats to watch

This post is inspired by a recent article by Sue Pelletier of MeetingsNet summarizing the key take aways of a session at a recent conference.

S.Pelletier tweet 6 stats of health

The points made were focused primarily on B2B conferences and trade shows, but they apply to all types of events, B2B and B2C alike.

The Six Vital Signs

If you are not measuring these vital signs, it is time to start, because just like people, when things start to go wrong, they do so quickly and it is hard to recover. Consider Ben Franklin’s famous phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

1. Event Audience Loyalty of at Least 50%
This leads to an even bigger question … do you have the tools necessary to track individual attendance year over year? I know many events, especially consumer, do not. If attendance this year was bigger than last year, then all is well, right?

Not so fast, my friend!

Lee Corso not so fast

The key to success for any business is keeping existing customers and gaining new ones. If your marketing time and money is spent replacing the customers (attendees) you are losing, then this is the start of a slippery slope.


2. Exhibitor (Sponsor) renewals of at least 65%
Your sponsors and exhibitors invest in your event because of the audience you deliver *and* the opportunity to make a direct connection with them (side note – this need to connect is the problem Virtual Event Bags solves for event organizers). If your sponsors and exhibitors aren’t returning then they:

  • no longer see a relevant, quality audience at your event
  • have not been able to effectively connect with the audience
  • have other options (events) that deliver on their needs


3. Minimum 30% of event revenue from sources other than registration
“I don’t need sponsors. My event sells out every year.”

Even the most well-attended event would do well to diversify their revenue sources. The events industry continues to grow, but so do attendee expectations. Revenue from non-registration sources (e.g. sponsors and/or exhibitors) provides the fuel necessary to reinvest in the attendee experience and stay ahead of the competition. Don’t forget that you also need to invest in the sponsor experience as well.


4. At least 35% of attendees (participants) are younger than 50
This metric is designed for Associations with annual conferences that tend to have an aging demographic. If you organize an endurance event, your primary age demographic is likely 25 – 44 (according to the Running USA’s State of the Sport report). The point, however, is not the actual age metric (30, 40 , 50, etc.), but that your event is looking to the future by attracting the next generation of your audience. When planning your event, do you have resources dedicated to market, program, and retain a younger audience? This leads us to the next metric, the audience experience.


5. At least 55% of direct expenses are targeted to experience
“Experience” is one of those hard-to-define, but critically important, elements for any event. Because the quality of an event experience is in the eye of the of the beholder, how does an organizer know how to deliver a great experience? We suggest you consider two important points:

Find your Tribes
Segment your audience into thirds. Not by age, region or job title, but by their “tribes.” Seth Godin, entrepreneur and marketing guru, defines tribes as:

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea … A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

An example of a tribe could be people who are tech-savvy, early adopters. Another example is the loyal traditionalist. Both are important to the health of an event, but each group will have its own view of a great “experience.” Segmenting your audience into tribes will help you develop marketing messages, programming and other elements relevant to each group.

Remove the Friction
The “Happiest Place on Earth” (aka Disney World), recently spent over $1 Billion on the Magic Band and related infrastructure. The purpose? Remove friction in the Disney Disney Magic Band

Photo credit:, Bob Croslin

You don’t have to be Disney (or spend $1 billion) to remove friction points from your event. The first place to look is the “grey areas.” Those transition points between systems (e.g. registration to check-in) or people (marketing to ops) that are often the primary contributors to friction in the attendee experience.


6. The top companies in your market are maintaining their investment
Look around your market. This could be your city or your industry, depending upon your event. Now look at other events in your market. Are the top companies in your market (as you define it), working with you? If not, you should be working towards a continually growing and improving sponsorship base (see point #3), with a focus on the “best” partners. This brings credibility to your event, which brings more sponsors and the opportunity to grow and/or enhance your audience.

To read the full article and see six more tips, click here to visit


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