Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now in Washington, DC.
A new study shows that a flood of event data is both an opportunity and a struggle for association event planners.
Here’s a problem: Almost 90 percent of senior association event planners are struggling to get what they want from their event data, according to a recent study by Eventsforce.
“As the significance of events continues to grow for associations, so does the importance of managing all the data they collect from events. It tells them a lot about their members and how they’re engaging with their events, and it also gives them the kind of business insight they need to expand their reach to much wider audiences,” says Eventsforce CEO George Sirius.
With the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in place and concerns about data security at an all-time high, Sirius says associations need to be savvy about what data they need from their events, how it will be used, and what value it will bring to their organization. “Effective data management now sits at the heart of an association’s success and its ability to acquire members and grow,” he says.
The study showed that 83 percent of associations see registration systems as the most effective tool for collecting information from attendees, followed by online surveys at 64 percent.
The findings also revealed that measuring success is the primary reason why associations collect event data. The source of the data varies from registration and attendance numbers to engagement levels and revenue.
Meanwhile, 80 percent of associations said that event data management and security are a bigger priority after GDPR came into effect last May—with 86 percent of those surveyed making improvements like cleaning up their databases and investing in tech tools that allow them to put better data management processes in place.
Despite these improvements, 88 percent said they still don’t get the most out of their event data and don’t always handle it properly. More than half of associations said their data was spread across so many different systems that it was difficult to control, while one-third said much of their data was stored in spreadsheets, a highly insecure practice.
“Using technology to get the right kind of analysis and insight, along with following good data management practices, will bring about new opportunities that will help associations grow and engage more closely with members and stakeholders in the long run,” Sirius says.