Boosting your seminar’s appeal…

  • Simon Owen
  • 9 years ago

We have recently carried out 2 surveys asking people what they want from seminars and where do they want it after I joined the Yorkshire CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers) committee. Before looking at the surveys and the results the most important thing is to say a big thank you to everyone who voted commented and offered to contribute – it is really appreciated by the CIBSE team and I.

The aim was to get information to ensure the CIBSE was providing useful information that members would find appealing and it was in the right place

The first was a quick poll on LinkedIn which had 105 responses to find out why people would attend a seminar. The key outcome from that was that when deciding whether to attend a session or not was  ‘interesting speakers/subjects’ with 64% of the vote. Comments range from ‘I want to be challenged’ to ‘the desire to hear from people who have been involved with high profile/value schemes’

Second highest priority was ‘convenient location/time’ with 21% of the vote which led on to our second survey.

There was a big gap between the second highest and the third, fourth and fifth options with just 7% citing employer support as a reason to attend (which I was surprised at, expecting more employers to encourage their team to undertake professional development) while 6% said event type was important be it a presentation, networking or a visit. Happily only 3% said CPD was a waste of time!

Other interesting comments included the need for more information about the session and the benefit of telling people what they missed when promoting the next event.

The second survey concentrated on location, both geography and the facilities provided. 85 respondents told us that breakfast or lunchtime sessions were likely to be poorly attended with less than 11% of people saying they’d go to either with the preference being straight after work (15-21%) depending on location or early evening (20-45% depending on location).

In terms of location it was a fairly even split between a venue close to home or work (28% and 31% respectively) with Leeds being the most popular location (75% would come), Sheffield second (66% would come) and York being unpopular with just 54% saying they would attend.

With the venue it does not seem too important whether it is close to work or home, with the desire for parking (22% of respondents) as opposed to public transport links (12%) shows that the majority of attendees are likely to drive and value the ability to get to and from the venue quickly. Indeed, several suggested the Cedar Court Hotel off junction 39 of the M1 and Thorpe Park Hotel off the M1-A1 link road as suitable venues.

I was really appreciative for the time people put into comments and also the offers of contributing presentations and also hosting a session – it shows that of the people who were willing to do the survey, are also keen to help us make it as successful as possible for all.

So in summary:

  • If content is king, location is queen while venue and time are jokers – they have a useful role to play
  • Publicity is crucial to a successful event both pre and post event
  • You need to do something different – not merely repeat what has been done before, keep it fresh, look for something new and be prepared to push the envelope. We’ve been told you’ll be rewarded for it

I’ve already presented this feedback to the CIBSE Committee and as a result we’ve looked at the venues and the locations to make it easier for people to attend. We’ve also got some interesting sessions planned which are different to the (excellent) CPD sessions that manufacturers have generously contributed in recent years.

In terms of publicity, we’ll be making greater use of social media (follow @CIBSEYorkshire for updates), LinkedIn through the committee’s own profiles and also through BDE’s excellent CPD calendar as well as the usual CIBSE email and the CIBSE Yorkshire website.

If you have any thoughts that you would like to contribute please add a comment below.