November 06, 2023
By Hope Salvatori

Events are a significant investment. But how do you know if that spending is paying off?

Event ROI. It’s about setting measurable goals and evaluating data to maximise your event’s impact and value.

In this post, I’ll explore the critical questions surrounding event ROI: Why calculate event ROI? What metrics matter most? How can technology like event planner software solutions boost outcomes?

With strategic goal setting and measurement, your next event can deliver tangible ROI, not just expenses. After reading this blog, you’ll be better equipped to achieve event success you can quantify! (You’re welcome, stakeholders!)

What Is Event ROI?

Event ROI is what you gain from hosting an event compared to what you spend on it. Think of it like this:

You throw a party (your event) and spend money on food, music, and decorations. At the end of the day, if your guests had a great time, made memories, or maybe even did some business deals with you, you've got some good returns on your party investment.

It’s the same in the event world, except the cost and benefits (value) are slightly different.

Value Factors in Event ROI:

  1. Event revenue: Typically, this comes from ticket sales or registration fees.
  2. Lead generation: New potential customers or clients identified during the event.
  3. Pipeline value: Potential business deals that arise as a result of the event.
  4. Number of attendees: A larger audience usually signifies greater reach, influence, and ticket sales.
  5. Sponsorships and partnerships: Collaborations that can offset costs or offer additional event benefits.
  6. Brand recognition: Expanding the reach of your brand can be a huge selling point for events – especially if you’re reaching new attendees and prospective customers.
  7. Press mentions and social media: Media coverage and social media shares enhance brand visibility for you and your partners.
  8. Marketing content generation: Events can provide a treasure trove of marketing content. The sessions you record can be broken down into bite-sized promo videos, original images you capture can be used year-round on marketing materials, you’ll be able to gather customer testimonials, and so much more!
Event ROI Media Coverage Cvent CONNECT 2023

Cost Factors in Event ROI:

  1. Flights and travel: Transport costs for organisers, speakers, staff, and VIP attendees.
  2. Lodgings: Accommodation expenses.
  3. Swag: Promotional merchandise or gifts for attendees.
  4. Labor: Man-hours put into organising, managing, and running the event.
  5. Time: The opportunity cost associated with what could have been achieved in the time spent on the event.
  6. Food and drink: Catering expenses.
  7. Event booth or stall: Cost of setting up promotional or informational stalls.
  8. Add-on experiences: If you’re organising additional experiences for attendees during your event such as happy hours or offsite venue visits, these will add a ton to the attendee experience – and to your costs.

In its most basic form, event profit can be determined using this formula:

Event Profit = Net Value − Net Cost

However, the ROI for an event is determined by:

Event ROI (%) = (Net Value/Net Cost) × 100

This ROI percentage offers a clear snapshot of the event's efficiency and success. We'll delve into more intricate models for calculating event ROI further on in this blog.

Importance of Evaluating Event ROI

Measuring event ROI is a strategic investment that drives growth, transparency, and continual optimisation. It helps:

  1. Quantify value and impact: Hard metrics justify the investment and resources needed to stage events.
  2. Drive strategy: Analysing ROI shows what's working well and where there's room for improvement. This data-driven insight fuels decision-making.
  3. Strengthen stakeholder buy-in: Helps in stakeholder reporting and provides concrete ROI metrics to ensure leadership support for future events.
  4. Focused budget: Tracking ROI helps allocate budgets wisely to optimise results, aligning spend to high-ROI activities.
  5. Allow benchmarking: Comparing ROI event-over-event spotlights trends and progress. Benchmarks help set goals and manage growth.
  6. Maximise future success: Evaluating ROI creates an opportunity to iterate and improve. Your learnings pave the way for better ROI on future events.
  7. Build transparency: ROI analysis communicates an event's financial health clearly to stakeholders. This demonstrates accountability.

How to Measure Event ROI

Event ROI Data Capture at Badging Cvent CONNECT 2023

There are several models for calculating event ROI, each with varying complexity. The right approach depends on your goals, resources, and data availability.

Return/Investment Model

Formula: ROI = Event Revenue / Event Expenses

Pros: Straightforward and easy to understand.

Cons: It might oversimplify by emphasising revenue without reflecting actual profit.

Best for: Quick event insights and basic evaluations.

Incremental Revenue Model

Formula: ROI = Event Revenue – Event Expenses / Event Expenses

Pros: Offers a better perspective by focusing on profit over expenses.

Cons: Doesn't factor in the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS).

Best for: Businesses looking for a balance between depth and simplicity.

Incremental Margin Model

Formula: ROI = Gross Margin – Event Expenses / Event Expenses

Pros: Provides a comprehensive view by considering gross margins.

Cons: Determining COGS can be challenging.

Best for: Detailed financial analysis.

Multi-Touch Attribution

Application: Assigns value to multiple event touchpoints a participant engages with.

Pros: Precise attribution of revenue to specific event activities.

Cons: Complexity in tracking every touchpoint.

Best for: Lead nurturing or sales-oriented events.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) Integration

Application: Measures projected revenue from attendees over the long term.

Pros: Provides a long-term view of an event's impact.

Cons: Assumes long-term engagement post-event.

Best for: Events targeting long-term customer engagement.

Intangible ROI Metrics

Application: Focus on non-monetary benefits like brand sentiment, reach, or market positioning.

Pros: Recognises broader impacts beyond direct revenue.

Cons: It is harder to quantify and translate into actionable insights.

Best for: Events prioritising brand, loyalty, or knowledge goals.

Data Collection and Analysis for Event ROI

Event ROI Session Data Tracking Cvent CONNECT 2023

Pre-Event:

  • Registration data: Names, emails, titles, company, industry
  • Guest details: Preferences, personal info, demographics
  • Referral info: How they heard about the event
  • Consent captured: Privacy policy, partner communications
  • Declined RSVPs
  • Email engagement: Open rates, click rates, unsubscribes
  • Event page analytics: Views, conversions, bounce rate

During-Event:

  • Check-in data: Attendees, no-shows, time spent
  • Walk-ins: Capture the same data as registrations
  • On-site surveys: Instant feedback at touchpoints
  • Session attendance data: Digital check-in kiosks to enter sessions
  • Newsletter engagement: Daily updates or newsletter open rates, click rates
  • Social and press mentions

Post-Event:

  • Feedback surveys: Event satisfaction, favorite elements, improvements needed
  • Email engagement: Open rates, click rates
  • Sales outreach data: Response rates, deal progression

Key Technologies:

The key is collecting comprehensive data at every event stage – before, during, and after. Leverage technology like online registration, event apps, on-site support, and post-event CRM integration to seamlessly gather, unify, and activate your event data.

What Is the Role of Event Technology in ROI?

Event technology is indispensable when determining event ROI. It not only simplifies the process of calculating event ROI but also provides a detailed, data-driven perspective on various event aspects, ensuring a comprehensive ROI analysis.

Onsite Event Support Check-In Cvent CONNECT 2023
  1. Event Analytics: This forms the backbone of ROI calculations. Event technology allows organisers to access real-time and post-event data on attendee engagement, session popularity, and interaction levels. These analytics help understand the areas of strength and those that require improvement.
  2. Event Success Metrics: With the right technology, it becomes easier to identify key event performance indicators. This could include metrics like the number of attendees, the rate of session participation, or the engagement on event apps.
  3. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Event technology facilitates a streamlined cost-benefit analysis by allowing organisers to juxtapose an event's tangible and intangible benefits against the associated expenses. This understanding is crucial to calculate event ROI effectively.
  4. Event Revenue Generation: Sophisticated event platforms can track revenue sources, such as ticket sales, sponsorships, or even on-site purchases, giving a clear picture of the event's financial success.
  5. Attendee Satisfaction: Feedback tools and post-event evaluation surveys enabled by event tech can measure attendee satisfaction. This provides insights into the overall event experience, which is a crucial component of the ROI calculation.
  6. Event Marketing Impact: Event management technology can track event marketing impact, measuring parameters like registration conversions, social media engagement, and email open rates. Understanding this impact can aid in optimizing marketing strategies for better ROI.
  7. Post-Event Evaluation: Event tech provides tools to conduct a thorough post-event evaluation, which is crucial for understanding the holistic success of the event and further refining future event strategies and improving ROI.

Examples of Event Goals, ROI Metrics, and Data Tracking Tools

Successfully evaluating event ROI requires connecting goals to data. The key is picking the right metrics to quantify desired outcomes and leveraging tools like an event marketing platform to track them.

Here are some examples of measurable event goals, relevant ROI metrics (event performance indicators), and suggested tracking methods:

Event GoalsEvent Performance IndicatorsTracking Tools
Increase brand awarenessSocial media reach, hashtag mentions, web trafficGoogle Analytics, social media listening tools
Generate leadsNumber of leads collected, lead-to-customer conversion rateCRM, event automation platform
Drive product engagementProduct demo views, trial signups, purchasesWebsite analytics, sales database
Boost partner relationshipsNumber of partnerships formed, partner revenue contributionCRM, partner management system
Enhance customer experienceNet Promoter Score, satisfaction ratings, feedback commentsSurveys, interactive event apps
Grow communitySocial followers, membership sign-ups, engagement rateSocial media analytics, membership platform
Maximise attendee networkingParticipation rates for networking activitiesEvent app metrics, post-event surveys

Understanding the True Value of Events

Events are big business, with the global industry projected to hit $2.1 trillion by 2032. The rise of virtual events is also meteoric, with the market estimated to hit $657 billion by 2030.

While events remain a core marketing channel (and there’s nothing to suggest that will change any time soon), measuring ROI is critical to quantifying impact and maximising value.

By setting clear goals, employing the right metrics, and leveraging cutting-edge event technology, businesses can ensure every event resonates with its audience and delivers quantifiable value to stakeholders.

The future of events is bright, and with a keen focus on event ROI, businesses are set to shine even brighter.

Hope Swedeen

Hope Salvatori

Hope is a Senior Content Marketing Associate who has been with Cvent for more than two years. She has 8 years of experience producing content for corporations, small businesses, associations, nonprofits, and universities. As a content professional, she has created content for a wide range of industries, including meetings and events, government and defense, education, health, and more.

cvent essential guide
cvent essential guide
Essential Guide to Event ROI
Learn how to measure and prove the ROI of your events

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