New research shows 1 in 2 event planners struggling with volume of data collected from virtual events

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A new research study has found that running virtual events is making data management a lot more complicated for 50% of event planners – with the majority collecting more data today than ever before.  The results also show that an overwhelming 82% of organizers feel that good data practices are going to be critical in running successful hybrid events.

The research study, titled ‘The Changing Role of Event Data – New Challenges & Opportunities’ was conducted by Eventsforce in May 2021 and is based on the views of 200+ event professionals in the U.S. and the UK, representing corporates, associations, government, educational institutions and event management agencies.

The Impact of Virtual

One of the main objectives of the research study was to investigate what impact virtual events have had in the way organizers deal with their event data.  The issue of volume tops the list with 46% of event planners saying they collect more data from virtual events than in-person events. Other problems include difficulties in getting proper insight as data sits on different systems (40%) – as well as new concerns around securing attendee data (36%).  Another 34% feel they do not have the time or resources to do anything useful with all the data they collect from these events.

When asked how they use the data collected from virtual events – measuring success (74%) and making improvements to future events (73%) were the most popular answers. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61%) are also using data to create the more detailed post-event reports that sponsors and exhibitors want from virtual events. And 40% are looking at their data to improve their understanding of online attendee behavior and apply those learnings to hybrid events.

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The Impact of Hybrid

The research study also looks at current trends in the industry to see what role hybrid will play in the way organizers deal with their data.  The findings show that 75% of organizers are planning on running hybrid events in 2021-2022 – with the majority of those taking place in fall this year.  More interestingly, an overwhelming 82% feel that a good data management strategy is going to become even more important for them with hybrid events.

“Data management was always an issue for event planners.  But it seems with virtual, it is more complicated.  And it is not something that will become any easier with hybrid either,” said George Sirius, CEO of Eventsforce. “Hybrid events combine two different experiences which means organizers are going to end up dealing with a lot more engagement data than they would in a virtual or in-person only setting. And despite many saying they don’t have the resources to focus on data properly – hybrid models will force them to spend a lot more time collating, analyzing and reporting all the data they collect from events.”

New Opportunities and Next Steps

Despite the challenges, the research findings show that data management is high on the priority list for 94% of organizers as they recognize the benefits it can bring to their events. In terms of new opportunities, being able to run more engaging events tops the list at 67% – while another 59% feel it would result in happier attendees, sponsors and exhibitors.   Other benefits include running better hybrid events (50%), improved quality of attendee data (42%) and helping them become more competitive in the current climate (31%).

The findings also show that 73% of event planners are currently taking some important steps to improve their data strategy in 2021-2022.  A majority of 46% will be investing more time in analyzing their data, while another 36% will be cleaning up their data as they have more than they need.  Other concerns that event planners want to address are around data security, analytics and tech stack integrations.  More than 1 in 3 want to make improvements to the way they protect their attendee data – and a similar proportion want to invest in new technology platforms that can help them help them more with analytics.

“One of the biggest challenges organizers are currently dealing with is lack of insight as their data sits on so many different systems.  And hybrid will further complicate that. As well as recognizing the need to dedicate more resources in managing their data – organizers should start thinking a little differently about event technology too.  They can make things easier by using tools that integrate easily with their existing tech stack or look at event management platforms that allow them to manage all their virtual and in-person data in one place.”

“As well as saving time in putting everything together, these platforms can really help planners understand how people are engaging with their events and create the reports their stakeholders need too.  More importantly, they give that big picture overview they need on ALL their events – whether hybrid, virtual or in-person – which will be essential for success and growth,” concluded Sirius.

For a more comprehensive look at the results of ‘The Changing Role of Event Data – New Challenges & Opportunities’ research study, please download the full report.

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