Attendee Satisfaction: Market Research Turns Assumptions into Data and Uncovers Hidden Issues

Strategic Intent:
To understand and evaluate attendee perceptions and satisfaction of large medical education meeting

Client Profile/Situation:

  • Healthcare non-profit organization representing over 8,500 healthcare professionals
  • The organization supports its members through education, research, advocacy and practice support.
  • Largest revenue stream for the organization is the annual medical educational meeting necessary for members to receive continuing medical education credit
  • Organization was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the live meeting with no data proving return on investment of value-add programs
  • Wholesale market research to understand attendee motivations, perceptions and satisfaction had never been performed

Key Issues and Barriers:

  • Anecdotal evidence suggested poor attendee satisfaction with several expensive and key areas of the meeting, yet individual session evaluations indicated the opposite
  • Future direction of live meetings industry-wide is in flux and the organization needed to stay ahead of possible trends to ensure financial viability

Key Implementation Components:

  • Self-administered online data collection methodology
  • Incentive was offered to secure a sufficient number of responses

Primary Results:

  • Response rate was in the double digits which was well above the organization’s average response rate for smaller member polls, and provided a highly reliable statistical base
  • Geographic breakdown of respondents was global and representative of attendee demographics
  • Overall satisfaction with the meeting is relatively high, with a large majority of attendees reporting extremely or very satisfied.

Key strategic results:

  • The data supported staff assumptions that attendees were overall very satisfied with the meeting
  • Providing meeting content online after the live meeting—an expensive value-add program for meeting attendees—is perceived as very valuable to attendees
  • Study uncovered low perceived value of membership benefits, which was a separate strategic initiative previously uncoupled with the meeting


  • Changes would not be made to educational content, nor would new value-add programs be introduced. Instead, the organization needed to more effectively promote current offerings to attendees, before, during and post-meeting
  • More resources would be allocated to online initiatives to continue to meet attendee expectations
  • Organization would continue to monitor attendee satisfaction and perceived value through annual market research
  • Benefits of membership would be more clearly conveyed and highlighted during the meeting to convert non-member attendees