Sometimes, Turnkey Intelligence is hired to conduct on-site intercepts on behalf of our research clients. We conduct this type of data collection at various activities and locations including sporting events, fan fests, concerts, festivals, etc. During my time at Turnkey, I have been given the opportunity to travel to numerous locations throughout the United States to manage data collection on-site. Based on those experiences, here are my tips and best practices for successful execution and management of on-site data collection.

1. Keep your survey short. Respondents usually have a limited amount of time at the events at which you are collecting data. Their time is precious, so keep the survey short and sweet. Focus on capturing respondents’ basic demographics and asking them to rate their experience at the event.

2. Incentives are key. Even if it is a pack of gum, offering a free incentive will help you obtain respondents to complete your survey, so make sure you ask your client to provide you with items to be handed out as thank-you gifts.

3. Dress for work. Your staff members should dress professionally, taking the weather into account if the event is outside. A polo shirt and khaki shorts/pants is standard attire. Unless your client is providing staff members with uniforms, keep your team’s attire as unbranded and neutral as possible as to not provide the respondents with any bias towards any one team, company, etc. Also, comfortable shoes are a must since staff members will be doing a lot of walking throughout the day.

4. Arrive early. Getting to the event ahead of your staff members ensures that you will have time to scope out the event space in advance. This is critical, as it will give you an idea of where to station your staff members for interviewing.

5. Properly train and monitor the interviewing staff. In the end, successful on-site research always comes down to the interviewers. When requesting interviewers from staffing companies, I always request that they are outgoing and, preferably, have previous surveying/data collection experience. Once I am at the event and training the staff, I explain the objectives of the study, and then make them aware that we need to collect a random sampling of respondents. People of all ages (18+), genders, and ethnicities should be approached, and only one person per party should be allowed to complete the survey.

More often than not our surveys are self-administered either through mobile devices or paper, so interviewers are not asked to read the survey to the respondents. However, if survey is on a mobile device, I do ensure the staff knows how to operate the device.

Once the staff is trained and ready to begin collecting surveys, I position them evenly throughout the event (or in specific areas I want to collect data around). Be sure the staff members know they should remain in that same general location unless told otherwise; that way, you can properly monitor them. Throughout the data collection period, walk around and check in on your staff members to ensure everything is going well, and be ready to discuss any issues that may arise. Every hour or so, check in with the interview staff and see how many completes they have obtained. Monitoring the approximate number of completes along the way will enable you to estimate if you will reach your goal number of completed surveys. It will also help you when providing feedback to the staffing company regarding their interviewers – you’ll be able to accurately assess which interviewers worked hard and which interviewers could have done their jobs better.

Managing on-site data collection can be stressful at times, especially in the beginning of a new event. However, by remaining calm and properly supervising and training your staff, you should be on your way to successfully managing an on-site event.