How likely are you to recommend Net Promoter Scores?

Net Promoter Scores are used by most events organisers who conduct visitor and exhibitor satisfaction research and we now tend to automatically include them in a survey. Net Promoter ratings measure customer loyalty and is generally known as NPS. NPS is a registered trademark and was developed by Fred Reichfield. The concept is that an event brand should seek to have more promoters than detractors and the basic question asked in a survey is, ‘“How likely is it that you would recommend (show name) to a friend or colleague?”

The answer scale is a 0 to 10 rating scale, where 10 is “extremely likely” and 0 is “not at all likely”:


A rating score of 9 or 10 is known as a promoter, 7 or 8 is known as passive and 0 to 6 is known as a detractor; the NPS rating comes from subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

A totally negative score can be -100 and a totally positive score can be +100, though we have never experienced scores anywhere near these boundaries. Our experience of conducting NPS ratings for consumer events has delivered a lowest rating of -12 NPS and a highest rating of +50 NPS. A rating of +50 is by NPS standards truly excellent but how poor is the -12 rating. The comments from the ‘detractors’ of the lowest scoring show indicated that all may not be what is seems when looking at an NPS rating. Visitor numbers for this event are stable and the value for money ratings, the measure of overall satisfaction and the likelihood of return are all close to or above the industry averages we see in the Vivid Performance Index (VPI rating).

Looking at the comments from detractors explaining their rating we can see that in fact 26% of them actually gave what we would call positive comments. The word cloud here shows these positive comments.


When we examine the visitor NPS ratings by segmenting the respondents into new, previous and loyalist visitors we can see that the previous and loyalist visitors give the lowest ratings.


For the same event we can also see that the loyalist and previous visitors are the visitors groups that are most likely to return to the show the next time it is held.


Finally, and here we may be starting to arrive at the answer for at least some of the negativity in the NPS rating for the event when we look at the ratings by age.


For another show that has an NPS rating of +48 and so very close to the highest score we have measured the visitor numbers are declining. Here again we can see an age effect in the NPS ratings.


Another potential reason behind negative NPS ratings was found when comparing the respondent’s area of interest for another show. The consumer show in question was split into 8 show ‘sections’ and our research investigated
which areas the visitors had an interest in and then which of those areas was their main area of interest. The overall show NPS rating was +11 and when we segmented the data by the visitor’s areas of interest the results showed a wide range, varying between +26 and -6, although this is not unexpected given the overall average. However, once we dig a little deeper and focus on the visitor’s main area of interest there seems to be a few cracks.


This data seems to indicate that the ‘casual’ visitors to each area – visitors who are likely to have an interest in more areas overall – are more likely to recommend the show than those who have a specific interest in one area.
The respondents with a main interest in areas B and E are clearly the least satisfied with their show experience, while those with a less specific interest in each area still had a positive NPS rating. Therefore, the question is what do those visitors who have a specific interest in these areas want from their visit that the more ‘casual’ visitor does not? And how can the show deliver this?

On the flip side, those with a main interest in area G have a better chance of recommending the show than those who have a less specific interest – indicating this area is performing well. What does all this mean? Well the NPS rating that you have must be placed into the context of your visitor profile and other research results and insights. It is actually critical that events organisers ensure that their NPS ratings are used alongside other event performance metrics and in particular with a level of granularity that is meaningful for the audience structure. The NPS rating can be a great statistic when it goes in the right direction. It can be worrying when it does not. The real benefit though comes from a real understanding of what is going on and that never comes back to a single number.