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Negative comments about the event – turn weakness into strength!

  • Tips

Have you ever heard negative opinions about an event you organized? Have you ever read the unfavorable comment? I bet you have. It’s the nightmare of every organizer of training courses, workshops or conferences, that just happens from time to time. Instead of taking it personally, take action – make the criticism constructive.

Remember that negative reviews will appear once in a while. It is simply inevitable. The bigger the event you are planning, the more likely there will be a dissatisfied attendee.
What can you do? Above all, listen. Every opinion, even the negative one, can be a chance for development and improvement. Instead of running away from the problem, draw conclusions. By listening to the attendees, you can make every subsequent event organized by you better than the previous one.

Collect feedback about events

First of all – check at the source. One of the easy ways to get feedback from participants is simply asking them questions. You can send them post-event surveys (don’t do it too late – the day after the event would be great).

Carefully monitor social media: search for both positive and negative information. Don’t ignore even seemingly trivial complaints, such as the poor condition of toilets or the insufficient quality of the meal offered at the price of the event.

Call a debrief meeting with your staff and conference personnel: remember that especially the last ones are your eyes and ears on the front line. It’s a great chance to get some direct feedback. If sponsors participated in your event, ask them about issues you can improve.

All these activities will help you get a more complex view of the course of the event.

How to construct an ideal post-event survey?

A well-designed questionnaire includes:

  • mandatory question: “Would you recommend this event to others?” (you can use a scale of 1 to 5 – participants granting 3 or fewer points are those who have objections to its course – their opinions may be a source of knowledge about areas to be improved)
  • multiple-choice questions
  • questions about participants (the so-called data sheet)

If you conduct for example a series of training courses or workshops, the comparison of survey results will allow you to assess changes in the level of participants’ satisfaction. Thanks to them, you can assess whether the improvements you have made have been effective.

Some of the online event registration systems provide the option to construct a post-event survey and conduct it – check whether you can use your system to it.

How to react to negative opinions?

After collecting opinions from many sources, evaluate them. Don’t bother with the negative comments related to issues you couldn’t control: for example, weather that prevents participants from reaching an event.

Focus on those that may matter. Check which ones are repeated. One complaint about poor catering can be ignored, but several similar ones are the red light indicating that a change in this area is necessary. Assess in which aspects you absolutely need to make a change and in which you can consider it. In the case of the latter, determine whether the costs outweigh the benefits, and if not – focus on other improvements.

If you haven’t already done so, sketch out the profile of the model participant. Verify your training, workshops or conference would certainly meet his or her needs, including non-training-related issues (eg. catering quality).

Taking the actions, inform the participants about them. It will give them a chance to feel that their opinion is important to you. When the time comes to promote next year’s event, don’t forget to notify about the improvements.

Always keep in mind that the high attendance at the event is just a first step to your success. Your goal is to send participants home with the feeling of satisfaction and willingness to return.