6 Reasons Why Your Event Got Negative Feedback

It can be really disheartening to receive negative feedback. Having devoted hours after hours into preparing the very best event, it might be baffling to find out that not only did it not work out the way you anticipated, but also that it was genuinely disappointing to some of your guests. So what went wrong, and how do you fix them?

Be aware of these six common event planning mistakes and errors, and you’ll be prepared to avoid them next time around.

1. Your venue wasn’t fit for purpose
Imagine your event is attracting big numbers of guests. It’s probably heartening to see so many people eager to attend your event, so you want to put out all the stops to give them the best experience possible. There’s just one problem, your venue simply isn’t fit for purpose. It’s far too small for all these people, it lacks meeting spaces, and there’s nowhere for guests to plug their laptops in. No wonder everyone came back with negative feedback.

We’ve written before about how important it is to plan ahead, and part of that is anticipating numbers. You don’t want your guests squeezing into the Black Hole of Calcutta, no matter how good your event is, so making sure your venue is fit for the event’s purpose is one of the most vital planning consideration for events. This also applies if you’ve booked a large venue for only a small number of attendees. To overcome this, you might try to find a way of utilising the extra event space for booths and decorations, so that your guests don’t feel isolated by an enormous venue.

Another consideration is the wireless internet connection. Imagine the negative feedback and social media backlash you’d receive if a venue’s Wi-Fi is far too slow to handle all your attendees’ data, and demands a usage fee from them. Poor Wi-Fi might also interrupt your social interaction, such as live polls and Q&As, and not to mention sessions and seminars that require a constant connection.

Ironically, this can even be important for people who aren’t so keen on social interaction. Research has shown that people will use their phones to avoid awkward social situations, and without a good mobile reception or Wi-Fi signal, many people will use an important escape route out of your event.

2. Your guests were bored
We understand how difficult it can be to plan an event that will please everyone. But a simple reason for your negative feedback is that you’ve neglected guest interaction. If you’ve been struggling for inspiration, held to a restrictive brief, or found it difficult to get the best guest speakers or exhibitors, then your guests are probably going to be bored.

Sometimes, corporate events may have a more formal atmosphere, but this is no excuse to leave your guests impassive. You can get round this issue with some imaginative planning. There are a lot of way around this problem, but an easy solution might be to ask people outside your team or department for some feedback and for new ideas during the planning stage. For ideas on keeping your guests satisfied, read our previous blog for more ideas on how to keep your attendees satisfied.

3. Set-up was badly managed
On the day of the event, do you know exactly what goes where, how all the equipment is being delivered, and when and where the staff are arriving? You’ll need to answer these questions — and many more, — if things are going to run smoothly during the setup. After all, everyone is relying on you having an almost-encyclopaedic knowledge of the events.

So, plan ahead! Make a checklist, have a map printed out with all the important locations marked out, keep everyone informed of the order of events, and make sure your whole team is doing exactly what they need to. Otherwise, your guests will encounter chaos, and that’s not going to reflect very well in their feedback.

4. You neglected technology solutions
We often highlight the usefulness of event technology, especially when it provides a more efficient alternative to things like checking in attendees on paper, or unwieldy printed programmes. Operating on paper can also interrupt things like guest interaction. We’ve written before about how technology solutions make things run more smoothly, and provide an easy way for guests to interact with and check in to an event via their phones or tablets.

Keeping things paper-bound not only looks a bit old-fashioned, but can also be a source of irritation to your attendees, who are more likely to lose paper handouts during a packed event. Printing and distributing documents is always the less efficient choice when compared to disseminating them via a technology solution, with which you can ensure every single one of your attendees has received every single one of your documents.

5. There was no follow up
As children we’re always taught to say thank you as a part of good manners. The same principle applies to events. Everyone who was involved in planning and setting up your event needs to know you appreciate what they’ve done. That means everyone from the caterers and the venue staff to your own team members who helped you during the planning stage. Feedback is important, whether it comes from your guests or from your colleagues.

Guests, too, want to have a chance to give and receive feedback, related material, further information and even pictures and video from the event. They need to know that their attendance was appreciated, and that they can continue to interact and engage with the themes and ideas brought up during the event. Major conferences don’t end abruptly at 5pm on Friday, and if guests feel as if there’s no continuing importance, they’ll question why they attended at all.

6. You have a reputation
How many of these event sins have you committed before and how often? If it’s more than once or twice, then you’ve probably planned a less than mediocre event, and it’s possible that’s colouring your guest’s feedback. If they see the name of an company or event planner who they know to have been sloppy in the past, they might be wary about attending, or more critical when they do.

If that’s the case, you need to rescue your reputation. Plan carefully, be imaginative, and leave nothing to chance. Get the best speakers and exhibitors, make sure everyone has space to meet and free high speed wireless internet. Promote your event in new and unique ways, get everyone linked up on social media, and ensure you’re using the very best technology solutions. Don’t be defined by past errors, and you’ll surprise everyone.

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