Insights into the Event Attendee Experience

New in Events is a new podcast by IBTM, which brings you new episodes every fortnight. For episode four, co-host Mike Fletcher chats with ICE Strategy Director Anita Howard and ExCeL London’s Executive Director James Rees, while Paul Cook hears from Meet in Wales ambassador Dr Lee Parry. 

Short for time? Scroll to the bottom to discover the key takeaways.

During the 2023 edition of IBTM World in Barcelona, ExCeL London launched a report, which calls on the industry to redefine ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) as ‘Return on Intent’.

Although, clearly a play on words designed to get the report talked about (it’s working!), the survey’s findings reveal an important message regarding the modern-day attendee experience.

ExCeL’s Event with Intent study of 300 delegates looks at the key drivers behind visitor behaviour, and the factors influencing event attendance. Its key finding is that a majority (60%) of people now attend events for peer-to-peer networking - a significant shift away from more sales-orientated reasons. 

With this in mind, if you can curate engaging networking that encourages serendipitous interactions, attendees will better value their investment of time and money spent attending your event.

It’s about understanding the ‘intent’ of why someone comes to your event, measuring it through surveys and continuous dialogue with delegates, and improving the overall event experience as a result.

ExCeL London’s Executive Director James Rees is one of three guests on episode four of New In Events - a podcast by IBTM. He discusses the Event with Intent study’s broader findings on how attendees are becoming more purposeful in their event attendance and stresses the importance of recognising the motivations of attendees before working with agencies, venues and destinations to deliver on these expectations.

James is joined on the podcast for this episode by Anita Howard, Strategy Director and Co-founder of ICE, the international community of corporate event planners.

Anita talks about ICE’s annual benchmarking member survey and the shift to where in-house corporate event planners now sit within organisations.

She also provides an update on ICE activities, plus the work the association is doing to define roles so that corporate planners can educate their employers and help set goals for career development, training or mentorships. 

Episode four of New In Events - a podcast by IBTM opens though with a bonus interview from the show floor.

Dr Lee Parry, a biosciences lecturer at Cardiff University tells Paul Cook about the unseen power of conferences and why he was in Barcelona to support Meet In Wales as an ambassador for bringing major scientific congresses to the Welsh capital.

Each of our three guest interviews brings new ideas and new ways of thinking about event planning and the attendee experience. So give them a listen on whichever channel you download your podcasts from and check out the earlier episodes of New In Events that you may have missed. 


Key takeaways from Episode Four of New in Events 

  • The top priority for attending events, and where attendees derive the most value, is networking - over 60% cited this as their primary reason for going to an event in ExCeL’s Event with Intent report.
  • Curated networking needs to feel organic, authentic and unforced, to ensure a successful event for attendees.
  • Environmental and social impact is also important to delegates, scoring 4/5 in the Event with Intent study. Planners need to factor this into their event design.
  • When ICE surveyed its members, it discovered 91 distinct job titles from 132 planner responses. It’s now working on defining and standardising job roles for clearer career development.
  • In ICE’s 2022 member survey, 55% of corporate event planners said they sat within the company’s marketing function. This year, that figure is now 71% — signifying a growing recognition of the strategic importance of events in marketing endeavours. 


Looking for something else?