Mark Henneberger, Walmart’s vice president of event services, doesn’t have to wait very long to hear from the firm’s executive team about what they felt succeeded and didn’t succeed during the firm’s 2019 Associates Week and Shareholders Celebration. “As with all other company projects, we use a ‘correction of errors’ process afterwards to figure out why some things worked and others did not, and what we will do differently next time,” he said during shareholder-meeting rehearsals. But while the formal process takes place about two weeks afterward, “I get some correction of errors commentary on my phone a few hours after the shareholder meeting—and sometimes as it is happening.”
For attendee perspectives, Walmart doesn’t conduct a formal survey. “We have an open-door policy where an associate can send an email directly to Doug McMillon, our CEO, and very often he will answer those himself,” Henneberger added. “But our main barometer is the social channels. There’s the event hashtag we encourage associates to use, and over the past few years that has really taken off. Associates post on-the-ground reports and selfies and brief videos, and we use the LED screens in the big arena to show that stuff, and the livestream picks up that content as well. And we keep the shareholder celebration’s business and employee-entertainment segments online all year long.”
In fact, attendee feedback also comes in year round. “We have teams from corporate headquarters that tour some of our stores every week, and if they encounter someone who was at that year’s event, that associate often says, ‘That was the coolest thing I have ever been to,’” Henneberger said. “But if an associate thinks something was lacking or not done as well as it could have been, we hear about that too.”
Before he can act on that feedback, though, Henneberger must tend to a more immediate task: Putting together the holiday-campaign meeting for thousands of U.S. store managers, where they learn about products and marketing themes focused on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year’s Eve. The lead time: 12 weeks.
Find out more about Walmart’s 2019 Associates Week and Shareholders Celebration: