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July 27, 2006

Extreme measures: set goals for your suppliers

There is growing pressure on companies to measure the success of their events to establish the return on the money invested. Consequently, event organisers are using various techniques to establish whether the aims set at the planning stage have been delivered. However, when doing this many organisations forget that evaluation of an event goes further than establishing whether it has met its business objectives.

“Evaluation should be threefold,” stresses Liam Byrne, concept development director at London venue the Brewery. “Of course, making sure the event has been successful from a business perspective is of paramount importance, but so too is the performance of the venue and suppliers, such as caterers, recruitment agencies and audio visual services, which support the event – and let’s not forget the organiser, especially if they are external.”

Just as the aims of the event need to be decided at the concept stage, so do the performance indicators for venue, suppliers and organisers. This should ensure that all of the organisations involved are in agreement on how the success of the event will be measured and they will be clear exactly what is expected of them. It also means that everyone is working towards the same goal and that there are no grey areas.

“The Brewery always looks at the overall effectiveness of an event, namely whether it has achieved the goals that were set at the outset or not,” says Byrne. “Feedback from the attendees can not only be used to establish the overall success of the event, but also to assess the quality and performance of the venue, the standard of organisation and the service provided by any other suppliers. The key areas we look at are: were the overall goals achieved, were they achieved within budget and on time, and what was the overall delegate impression of the event?”

Having set the criteria for suppliers and organisers at the planning stage, the evaluation of the event should include assessing to what extent these have been met, and if they haven’t, an examination of the reasons behind any failures needs to be carried out.

Often venues will book catering, supplementary staff and any additional technical equipment and expertise as a package when a company is using its services. So it is worth asking how it plans to measure the performance of its suppliers and whether it has done this in the past.

The Brewery, for example, only books suppliers that have performed to the required level previously. “We have worked hard to ensure that we only work with ancillary suppliers who meet our exacting criteria,” says Byrne. “It helps to give us a competitive edge and, at the end of the day, no nasty shocks from wayward suppliers.”

It is vital to assess whether the business aims of your event have been met, such as the required messages being absorbed and understood by you audience. But only by measuring the performance of all organisations involved will you get a clear idea of how all elements can be improved and be able to effectively move the event forward in the future.

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