The previous blogs we reviewed the corporate reasons for having a conference, and how to plan and market a successful conference. There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, not least that events are an important part of the marketing mix. In this blog we will review the setting of Return on Investment (ROI) objectives, incorporating different levels of ROI Methodology used to measure ROI of an event
The ROI Methodology used for the planning of meetings and events was first developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in an academic paper in 1959 which suggested a model with four levels. These were satisfaction, learning, behaviour and impact (or results). Jack Phillips added ROI as a fifth level to the model in the 1980s as part of making it more practically applicable.
ROI is another way of expressing the contribution to profit made by an event. The profit is the net value created by the event minus the event costs. ROI is the profit expressed as a percentage of the cost of the event.
Planning and Measurement
Six Levels of Objectives and Evaluation
Level 5 – ROI
Level 4 – Impact
Level 3 – Behaviour
Level 2 – Learning
Level 1 Satisfaction & Learning Environment
Level 0 – Target Audience
In order to be useful the ROI of an event needs to be measured, monitored and compared with that of other investments to ensure that spending money has created value. The most important application of the ROI Methodology is in the planning of meeting and events to deliver the best outcome.
- There must be clear measurable objectives for the event otherwise measurement is meaningless.
- You cannot measure the value of an event without specifying the objectives of the various stakeholders for the event, the meeting owner and the budget holder.
- Objectives are set for the desired ROI or profit from the event, its contribution to the stakeholders
- The objectives cascade down from level 5 to the lowest level which is the target audience. The Behavioural Objectives derive from the Impact objectives and so on.
The business impact is the ultimate value contribution of the event to its stakeholders, and is used for ROI calculations. For a customer event this could be product sales while for an internal event it could be and improvement in organisational effectiveness.
- What do the participants need to do during and after the event in order to create value for stakeholders?
- This could be to purchase a product or it could be to ask for more information, share knowledge with colleagues, or investigate alternative solutions.
- The behaviour change may be to take some new action, or do things differently as a result of attending the event.
- Learning is required for participants to change their behaviour. This might be subconscious learning but there has to be some kind of change in the mind of the attendee before behaviour change can result.
Satisfaction and Learning Environmental Objectives
- How can we design a learning environment which will make a change in the attendee’s behaviour? Learning is influenced by the state of mind of the learner as well as environmental factors such as room temperature and the quality of the speaker.
Target Audience Objectives
- You need to have the right people attending the event so that they can apply what they have learnt to the benefit of the stakeholder. They are learning something new which will change their behaviour so you need to target the appropriate audience for the behaviour change.
By setting clear objectives for each level of the model you can focus your planning on achieving those objectives and as a result you can get the greatest possible return for the investment in the event.
The process of setting objectives starts from the top and cascades down, whereas the measurement of the attainment of the objectives starts at level zero and works upwards to the top.
The next tips blog will outline the measurement of objectives through the different levels to produce a measure of the ROI of the event
For further reading about ROI for events visit