Special Events: What are some of the essential strategies and elements that you build into events in order to measure ROI?

Jason Katz: In our opinion, ROI can only happen when we come to an agreement with the client on certain assumptions. To us, the goal of any meeting should be to educate, equip and motivate. Once this notion is in place, we can then build an event that can produce an ROI to measure. Without this, we are only measuring peoples' reactions and enjoyment — but we all know that this is quickly forgotten.

First, we determine the goals and objectives of the organization and how the event can support them. We figure out early on where the audience can apply what they have learned from the meeting and the type of communications will we use. We refer to these goals in everything we do throughout the planning and execution of the event.

Next, we develop and embed the key messaging into every element of the event — theme, invitations, decor, speeches, presentations, training and entertainment. We then find innovative ways to communicate the message and find time to teach the skills necessary to achieving the corporate goals. For example, we create game shows, talk shows, board games and visually enticing techno experiences to engage the audience — same content, just a more interactive format. We create fun learning experiences that allow people to develop a skill that will support the implementation of the key messages. But what is most important is what happens after the event. We sustain the momentum from the event by developing tools that we can embed into our clients' existing resources to communicate and train; basically short bursts of impactful information and ongoing training to remind the audience of the message and the goals that they need to act on.

Q: How do you prove ROI to your clients?

A: In our opinion, ROI can only be calculated once people begin to act on those key messages. Quick measurements can be based on management reports, or more extensive ones can be done via surveys and examining differences in sales and productivity using the metrics already in place by the client. We look for tangible changes in behavior and examine the comprehension and retention of the key messages, as well as how they are practicing it in the workplace. And, finally, if the information is available, we examine the impact on sales, retention of employees, morale — all indicators of productivity. If we can produce an increase in any one of these aspects, we've already begun proving ROI for that event. A survey was done a few years ago that shows the cost of employee misunderstanding has cost corporations $37 billion in the U.S. and the U.K. combined. Based on conversations with our clients, we know there is quite a bit of money being burned due to a lack of strategy when producing events, meetings or training.

For more information, visit www.atmosphere.to.