How To Use Shatterpoints as Early Conference Warning Signs


Have you ever hit a shatterpoint with your conference?

You’ll know if you have because it made your entire conference unravel, freeze or die.

Conference Shatterpoints

What’s a shatterpoint, you ask?

A shatterpoint is like a fault line, crack or an area of weakness in a path of action.

In Star Wars, shatterpoints are a juncture in the Force where things are especially vulnerable. One little change in that shatterpoint can have a domino effect with drastic galactic consequences.

All conferences have areas of weakness and vulnerability. The challenge is identifying the symptoms of these shatterpoints early on and making plans to improve them. We need to get better at looking at our processes, frameworks and data to identify shatterpoints so we can neutralize them. Or we face cataclysmic results!

Diagnosing Shatterpoints Versus Goals

Goals are objective metrics. They answer the question on whether we’ve arrived and met our objectives. They’re lagging indicators.

Shatterpoints are the leading indicators you can use to diagnose the state of your conference. They can have a gigantic impact on your future conference results.

Imagine being in college and taking a road trip with your friends. Two of your backseat drivers continually ask you, “Are we there yet?” They are asking a goal related question.

Now imagine your front seat passenger asking, “How much gas do we have and need to get to our destination? And how much money do we have to buy gas?” Well, both of those questions identify shatterpoints. If you run out of gas and no one has any money, the entire road trip comes to a halt.

Sticky Conference KPIs And Shatterpoints To Measure

Very few people in the meetings and hospitality industry talk about conference shatterpoints or KPIs. We mostly measure the inputs and outputs of the conference P&L, registration numbers, sponsorship and exhibitor sales or NSF and evaluations. That’s not enough. We need to drive deeper analytics through KPIs.

Remember, if your KPIs drop or don’t meet standards, you’ve hit a major fracture and you’re conference is in dire need of help or it may crash. Here are seven conference KPIs that the Velvet Chainsaw team has indentified that you should regularly measure and benchmark to attain a sticky conference:

1. Paid Attendee Loyalty 50% or Higher

Your conference should have a 50% or higher paid attendee loyalty. Loyalty is defined as an attendee that came two out of the past three years (or more) and paid at least one or more of those years. Anything less shows vulnerability in your conference sustainability.

2. Exhibitor Stickiness of 65% or More

Your conference should have a renewal rate of 65% or more of its exhibiting companies. Very healthy conferences attain this by selling 70% or more of next year’s space during or before this year’s expo.

3. Sponsor Stickiness of 75% or More

Strong, healthy conferences have a renewal of 75% of sponsorship revenue. If this isn’t happening, you either have an attendance issue or your sponsorship strategy is not aligned with what your attendees value.

4. Revenue Diversification

For conferences and tradeshows that have multiple revenue streams, the secondary revenue category (registration or expo+sponsorship) should be at least 30% of total revenue.

5. Sustainable Demographics

Unless you are the AARP or the Young Presidents Organization that has specific age limits on membership and attendees, you need to have at least 35% of your attendees under the age of 50. Experience is often more important than age. What will your conference demographics look like in five or ten years?

6. Value Proposition of Attendee Experience

At least 55% of your conference’s direct expenses should invested in the paying attendees’ experience. These include areas like speakers, entertainment, AV and production, and food and beverage. If 55% of your direct expenses are going to F&B, you are investing too much money into the attendee’s stomach!

7. Top Spenders Development

You should be identifying, measuring and nurturing your top attendee economic buyers. For some organizations, it means measuring participation and revenue of the top 30 companies. For others, it means measuring top key segments.

But wait, there are more! Stay tuned for additional leading indicators that show vulnerability and weaknesses in your conference.

How does your conference compare to these seven shatterpoints or KPIs? What tools do you use to identify and measure KPIs to make your conference more sticky and sustainable?

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