Judging from the comments on Twitter throughout NISO Plus 2020, as well as conversations with attendees during and after the event, we were pretty confident that our inaugural conference had gone well overall. But we also wanted to dig deeper and find out more about what worked best and what was less successful; whether we met the expectations of all our stakeholder groups; and whether we succeeded in achieving our own goals for the conference. So, like all good conference organizers, we invited attendees to tell us what they really thought in a feedback survey — and were delighted to hear back from 89 of the 251 participants, a great response rate of 36%!
One of our goals was to bring the information community together and facilitate meaningful conversations between the different stakeholders — librarians, publishers, vendor organizations, and more. So we were pleased to see that our attendees came from right across the community, and from a variety of different functions (see charts below). The most common responses to the Other option in both cases were consultants and those whose organizations or roles straddled more than one area. We also asked whether we succeeded in enabling those important conversations, and the answer was a resounding yes — a score of 4.25/5.
Another goal was to build on the success of the former NFAIS conference, and expand participation to include a broader swath of the information community. So we were happy that 61% of respondents were first-timers, who had never attended the NFAIS meeting — and even happier that they were so enthusiastic about NISO Plus! Almost two thirds (65%) were Net Promoters — ie, their likelihood of recommending the conference to colleagues was 9 or 10 out of 10 — giving us a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 60 for this group of attendees. Of course, we also wanted to continue to meet the needs of those who had supported the NFAIS conference in the past, and 38% of survey respondents had attended at least one conference previously, although only 7% of respondents said that this was their main reason for attending NISO Plus. Happily, the vast majority of former NFAIS conference attendees are very supportive of our new conference, with nearly half identifying as Net Promoters. A small number were less satisfied — four out of the 34 former NFAIS attendees scored the conference 6 or less — however, our NPS across all survey respondents was 52, with anything above 50 considered excellent.
Drilling down into attendees’ views on the logistics and content of the conference, we were delighted that satisfaction levels were almost universally high, especially in terms of the overall organization of the conference (rated 4.42/5), the quality of the speakers (4.4/5), and the presentation plus conversation format (4.38/5).
Speakers are critical to the success of any conference, of course, so we also wanted to check in with them about their experience and, again, the feedback was excellent, including a score of 4.81/5 for the relevance of their topic professionally, 4.77 for the responsiveness of NISO staff, and 4.73 for audience participation in their session, all critical elements from our perspective. Gratifyingly — if perhaps not surprisingly, given their experience! — all speakers said they would like to participate in future NISO events, other than one who responded maybe.
As is so often the case, much of the most valuable feedback is in the form of respondents’ free text comments, and we are still working our way through those. As well as pointing out some opportunities for improvement, including moving to a larger venue (already in hand — next year’s meeting will be at the Grand Hotel, Baltimore, which will give us the extra space we need), and suggestions for future topics and speakers, we also very much appreciated the good will toward NISO and our community that the conference generated. This comment, from one of the product managers who attended, sums it up nicely:
“I appreciated the collaborative environment this conference provided. It was not just vendors touting their products or what their solution to a problem is, but for the community to come together to openly discuss the problems we all face and work together to come up with solutions that will meet everyone’s needs. I know that is what NISO is all about but it was refreshing to attend a conference that put those values front and center.”