Understanding Event Behaviours

Understanding Event Behaviours

The Power of New Insight to Inspire a Business


Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser. Reed creates websites, apps and tools to support each of its 535 events across multiple markets. These tools can significantly enhance the experience before during and after an event. But following significant expansion, the business needed to rationalise and prioritise investment in digital development, re-aligning digital development around the most common attendee behaviours, across multiple event types, sectors and countries, in a way that would inspire, galvanise – and challenge some firmly-held beliefs.

So we needed to understand…

  • Journeys: how do attendees behave before, during and after an event?
  • What are the associated motivations and success criteria?
  • Based on this, what are the most common behavioural typologies?
  • How do they currently use digital tools?
  • What are the unmet needs / opportunities to further enhance the experience?
  • How does all of this differ by market segment / industry type?

This was Reed’s largest ever research study and included innovative mobile ethnography, filmed interviews and self-shot Flip Camera stories, enabling attendees to show us how it was for them. A huge and complex quantitative study then validated the insights across multiple markets, languages and industry sectors.

And we needed to achieve all of this among people who were on the verge of attending an event, or had just attended one – a significant recruitment challenge.

At a strategic level, the research uncovered broad areas of opportunity for digital to enhance the event experience. It also uncovered seven very different event behaviours that provided the context for digital use.

The impact of these insights in the business has been huge. Over 600 staff have considered the implications in 30 separate workshops around the world. The work has created a new framework for digital product development and has underpinned two flagship launches. But its impact has been wider still – becoming embedded in Reed’s strategic planning process.

Rarely has research had such a global strategic impact among such a wide range of stakeholders. 


Authors: Stuart Knapman (The Sound) and Layla Northern (Reed Exhibitions)

Members: Full presentation available here.