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Almost half of CEOs see internal events as a cost rather than an investment, according to the directors that work for them.


That's one of the key findings of new research among event managers and directors at FTSE 250 organisations and UK multinationals.

Research from INVOLVE, the communications agency, finds that internal events are used to influence ‘business critical’ measures, such as employee engagement (84%) and revenue/profit (81%). However, directors believe that only half of CEOs (51%) see internal events as an investment compared to almost two thirds of employees (67%).

CEO’s in low spend organisations (those that spend between £100,000 to £250,000 a year on internal events, as defined by respondents) see events as more of an investment than those in high spend organisations (with spend of £250,000 to £1 million a year). The average corporate is spending £370,000 a year on internal events.

Although events are used to influence ‘business critical’ measures, corporates are not consistently measuring whether they are achieving goals. Only 54% of directors claim to measure the ROI extremely or very robustly. However, event managers claim to measure ROI more with 62% saying they do so extremely or very robustly. Not surprisingly perhaps, those with larger spend claim to be better at evaluation (61% as opposed to 46%).

Most companies opt for conventional evaluation methods, often focused on collating feedback. 73% of companies use post-event delegate surveys; 46% use direct feedback and 31% use ‘happy sheets’ on the day. Event managers collect much more direct feedback than their bosses, 61% compared to 46%.

“There is a clear disconnect between the CEO’s view of internal events and the views of the rest of the company,” says Jeremy Starling (pictured above), managing director of INVOLVE.

“A prime cause of this has to be a lack of proof that internal events are delivering long-term behavioural change or hitting other indicators of success. The long-term growth of this industry depends on securing buy-in from CEOs across the board. Using robust measurements to track ROI is vital to determine whether internal events are truly effective and successfully delivering against an organisation’s ‘business critical’ goals.”

The INVOLVE Insight 2014 survey spoke to 199 HR, marketing and communications directors in large corporates who are responsible for – or significantly involved in – the management of big internal conferences and events. It also spoke to 100 events managers in large corporates. Respondents had an internal events budget of over £100,000 excluding venue costs.
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