Text Mining Survey Data to Improve Conference Planning

The Challenge

The goal was to use text and data mining of survey data to identify insights and trends that affected conference attendance to guide future content programming and conference planning strategy. The client also wanted recommendations on what additional studies or surveys to conduct to fill information gaps.

The Solution

Elder Research leveraged vast cross-industry experience marketing analytics to deliver actionable insights to promote increased conference attendance and attendee satisfaction. The client provided data on annual leadership and performance surveys, conference evaluations, session details, and conference attendance. Our analysis to determined factors predictive of  conference attendance and satisfaction revealed substantial differences in the sessions preferred by volunteers compared with staff members. For example, staff preferred sessions focused on implementations of strategies while volunteers preferred more general sessions. Session topics of interest to volunteers included strategic planning, networking, and education, containing words such as “build”, “improve”, “increase”, and “successful.”

The analysis for conference attendance predictive factors showed that distance from the conference location and a robust and engaged client presence in close proximity to the conference location were significant factors influencing attendance. As shown in the figure below, differently sized organizations behaved differently in terms of the number of attendees and how attendance changed over time.


The analysis revealed valuable insights regarding the key factors influencing conference attendance and satisfaction. The specific wording of survey responses, session topics, and differing content preferences between volunteers and staff were most predictive of overall satisfaction. Attendees’ willingness to travel to minor versus major conferences, travel distance, and the conference’s proximity to larger metro areas were the most predictive of conference attendance. These insights demonstrated the need to increase targeted marketing and registration discounts to medium-sized local clients and to create outreach initiatives and a framework geared specifically toward volunteers to encourage conference attendance.

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