How to rock event survey and engage the audience like a boss – the case of 4Developers
Often, especially during big events, it’s hard to encourage attendees to leave their feedback and fill out a questionnaire. First-hand opinions and event survey are crucial to improve the event’s organization and evaluate its success. We met with 4Developers organizers to talk about their experiences with gathering feedback and engaging their participants in event experiences.
One of the most intriguing questions that organizers’ ask themselves after the event is how the participants liked it anyway. The issue of the satisfaction level among participants, unfortunately, continues to be an unsolved mystery in many cases. Engaging and measuring attendees’ experience remains a tough nut to crack because of the insufficient approach to the matter and people’s resilience to share their thoughts.
However, there are methods and tools that can help organizers get valuable opinions from their attendees. Our today’s guest, Paulina Małocha, admits that the struggle of persuading conference guests to leave their honest opinion at the end of the event is real. So is, among other classic organizational tasks, to engage the audience them with partners and exhibitors. Luckily, 4Developer’s organizers came up with solutions to overcome those struggles and Paulina told us a little bit about it.
Paulina Malocha – Conference Manager at PROIDEA. She’s responsible for organizing 4Developers Conference and its local editions. Getting her vast knowledge on the University of Science and Technology and the University of Economics in Cracow, Paulina started her event manager career in IAESTE organization. In 2018 she joined PROIDEA where together they evolve and organize top class events.
4Developers – the biggest interdisciplinary technological Festival for developers in Poland. Organized annually in Warsaw, 4Developers is taking place in the leading polish cities to reach a wide range of IT communities in the country.
Boosting an event experience like a boss – a case of 4Developers 2018
Eventory: Welcome Paulina! Thanks for meeting with me. We’ll be talking about one of your latest events – the 4Developers conference. Please, tell me more about it.
Paulina Malocha: Hi, thank you for having me. As for the event – 4Developers is an interdisciplinary festival addressed to developers. It consists of a couple (at local editions) or a dozen (in case of the main event in Warsaw) parallel tracks, every tackling a different field of a programmer’s work. We choose them based on the demand that we research through surveys or the Programme Board and partner’s insights.
Generally speaking, 4Developers is about the idea, interdisciplinarity, activity, and community. We’re open to every kind of cooperation with Polish communities linked to diverse programming languages and more. They give us an insight into the real needs of our target group when it comes to both the content of the events and their locations. Our motto is: Make IT grow!
The last edition of the Festival took place on the 8th of April in Warsaw. It’s the heart of the whole endeavor and remains the most diversified gathering of the IT community. The last edition has brought together about 2200 attendees.
We don’t confine ourselves to Warsaw, we want to reach everyone. That’s why we also organize local editions of the event in chosen Polish cities. We hosted 4Developers in Cracow, Katowice, Gdansk, Lodz and Wroclaw. These editions derive from the main one but enable participants to work within their local network.
Eventory: Sounds like attendees get a lot of value from your event. What is its main goal then?
Paulina Malocha: Our main objective is to bring together a broad IT community and, as you noticed, provide the widest variety of topics as possible. It’s nice that 4Developers doesn’t focus on one subject only. Very often our participants choose to attend lectures in the track that is not their specialty. We gather attendees who specialize in various fields and we provide them with the possibility of exchanging knowledge and network with each other.
It’s true that we want to educate our audience. Local editions don’t coincide with the Warsaw event. Our job here is to maintain the diversity of offered content and its high substantive value. We consult it with potential attendees – they can decide what the local editions will concern. This way, we’re able to create a technological map of our country on which we can track the demand of local markets and determine regions of particular specialists.
Eventory: It must be interesting to see how different regions specialize in different fields. Tell me, how do you see the accomplishment of these goals? Did you make it?
Paulina Malocha: Yes! Agendas for both local editions and the main one in Warsaw were very well received by our participants. What is more, in the case of 2 (out of 5) local editions, we had to close registration for the event earlier. Venues wouldn’t fit any more participants! All of our events reached our expectations and in some cases even exceeded it.
Eventory: Good to hear that. Did you have any particular methods or tools that contributed to such an effect?
Paulina Malocha: The most important element is choosing the right tracks for the agenda. We work closely with communities to do our research and choose appropriate topics to cover. These are the people who help us reach the biggest group of participants as possible. Our Programme Board, which help us invite speakers and evaluates entries from Call for Papers, also has a big contribution to achieving our goal. Then, we used tools like Slack or Asana and run communication through e-mail discussion lists, meetings and so on.
Eventory: Did Eventory help you in the organizing process? If so, how?
Paulina Malocha: Eventory was great support when it comes to arranging agendas. It is much easier to reorder the ‘blocks’ of individual lectures. Also, what really made our work easier was the intuitive system of lecture details entry and the ability to use a base of speakers that worked with us before. It saved us a lot of time. Of course, every change in the agenda or event information was immediately updated on our website, so everyone had access to fresh information.
Eventory: Speaking of last-minute changes – did you use the News feature?
Paulina Malocha: Of course, it’s extremely useful at conferences. For example, during the Wroclaw edition of 4Developers, one of our speakers called me at 7 a.m to tell me he won’t be able to show up because he’s in the hospital. His lecture was scheduled as the first one that day, at 9 a.m. In such a situation, you could try to send email to all participants or post it on Facebook but it won’t work as effectively as news that will notify attendees immediately and will show up in their phones notifications.
Eventory: Right, it’s a vivid example of unexpected situations at events, you needed to make sure everyone got the message. Now, I’d like to ask you about gathering feedback at the Warsaw edition of 4Developers. You manage to obtain over 400 forms, how did it help you with the planning process?
Paulina Malocha: Partly it’s, once again, Eventory’s merit as we distribute the feedback questionnaires in the application. However, we have two types of event feedback. The first one is the evaluation of speakers and lectures. Attendees can rate them in the Eventory app. It’s a precious source of information for our Programme Board – they want to know how a given person presents their topic and how he or she is perceived by the attendees in order to make better choices in the future. Also, it’s crucial for the speakers themselves, they can determine in what areas they need to improve.
The second form of event survey is our questionnaire which collects feedback from the whole conference. It’s about the strong and weak points of the event, what attendees would like to see during the next editions and so on. Our promotion department prepares the questions, then we check it to ensure we will obtain all of the vital information. Then, it’s in the participants’ hands.
Eventory: Do you have any ways to encourage them to leave the event feedback?
Paulina Malocha: Actually yes. We combine the questionnaire with a partner contest. Every attendee needs to fill out a feedback form (the questions are really easy and enjoyable so it’s not a big deal), go around our partners’ and exhibitors’ stands scanning provided QR codes. With those tasks completed, they can come to us and collect a conference t-shirt.
Often, without such an attractor, many won’t even have a look at the questionnaire.
Eventory: Sounds like a great way to engage the audience. You mentioned the partners’ QR codes. Are your partners satisfied with such a solution? Does it generate additional visitors at the stands?
Paulina Malocha: Mainly, our partners are pleased that so many attendees visit their stands. They don’t just show up to scan the QR code and go on to another partner. Instead, they stop and chat. They show a real interest. They ask about cooperating, offers, want to know what the company’s profile is and so on. Our partners are happy that there’s this interest in their stands.
Eventory: Yes, in that way they can notice a real value in partnering, right? Paulina, tell me, was there anything you have been especially proud of during 2018 edition of 4Developers?
Paulina Malocha: For sure we’re very proud of the substantive level and the attendance which exceeded our wildest expectations. We managed to appropriately determine community preferences. We’re happy that our partners also engaged with the conference and have brought their own initiatives and ideas. This way, our conferences were, even more, interesting and rich in various attractions.
Also, we need to highlight the work of our graphic designers. Our conference t-shirts and the whole visual communication is something we can surely be proud of. They were unconventional and referred to local characteristics. Attendees really appreciated that the branding and visual communication addressed to their local sayings. For example, in Katowice, we had a miner sitting on a pile of coal with a laptop. In Wroclaw, we could see the traditional gnome at a bridge. It really did the work and our attendees really wanted to get our shirts.
Eventory: So my only question after hearing about all of the successes is: What are the plans for 4 Developers’ future?
Paulina Malocha: Beside the main edition, which will take place on April 8th, we are thinking about organizing 4 Developers in new cities. In 2017, we hosted 2 local editions, this year it was 5 – we’ll see what 2019 will bring us. For sure it’s the cities that have the potential to be as big as the Warsaw event – Cracow, Katowice and so on.
As for the Warsaw event itself, we think it will be much bigger. What is more, as a result of huge Hack Yeah’s success, we hope to engage the public sector into our project. It could make our conference even more international.
Also, we are thinking about adding new tracks. After talking to our partners we are considering topics like Big Data, Data Analytic’s and Machine Learning.
Eventory: Sounds promising. Thank you for your time, we are keeping our fingers crossed and can’t wait to see how 4Developers will do in the future!
Looking at the example of 4Developers, we can clearly notice how much the organizational process of events can be improved by simply reaching out for the help of technology.
It’s organizers smartly applied it to the important purpose of gathering feedback. This way they improved not only the organizational aspects of their event, thanks to attendees’ honest opinions, but also managed to raise the satisfaction of their partners. Letting alone the additional fun and gifts they provided for the participants!
What do you think about 4Developers organizers’ idea to engage attendees in the event? Let us know in the comments.