When planners typically talk about event data, it’s usually in the context of trends or how they can optimize member lists. However, data is everywhere and often tells hidden stories that, when connected, can redefine the potential of business offerings and events.

Expert planners take advantage of the data they can gather around their events, such as the number of attendees at a session, who’s talking to which vendor, and who follows up on their promise to actually show up. Ultimately it comes down to a desire to better understand the dynamics of their events or tradeshows, as well as a desire to jump ahead of trend markers that could impact growth.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the National Confectioners Association (NCA) are two organizations that recently shared with Fortune how utilizing data analysis improved their functions and business. The CTA said they had an ever stronger case for embracing event data tracking- “We’re a tech show, and we weren’t using all the available tech to improve our show,” Director Jack Cutts said.

Both associations highlighted some of their successful stories to Fortune in using data to optimize their events. Check out their three key lessons below.

Selling Data

Technical knowledge isn’t the key factor in an analytics role; knowledge of the sector is. Ultimately, association savvy matters more than pure data-analysis capabilities. Selling data analysis to the board? That’s harder. Selling business intelligence to higher-ups can prove complicated, partly because it isn’t always easy to explain. Translating complex data into approachable, relatable points will benefit everyone involved.

That strategy makes it easier to sell to executives who are more interested in the elevator pitch than the numbers. “You don’t have to be data savvy, but you do need to recognize that the data is going to lead you to recommendations, and we gained a lot of confidence through this simplicity,” the NCA’s Larry Wilson explained.

Dirty Data

The quality versus quantity of your data matters. Humans are fallible and things may go wrong. That can create problems for your data. For example, when people register for an event, they may skip a handful of questions or even answer them incorrectly. The result of these aberrations is something called “dirty data,” and it’s more common than you think.

“Everybody has dirty data. It seldom is perfect. You’ll learn how difficult it is to perform analytics with dirty data,” CTA’s Cutts explained. One place your association can help matters is through planning. Cutts recommends creating a “data dictionary,” a set of guidelines for how you gather data on a yearly basis, to ensure long-term consistency in the data points.

Tracking Attendees

The NCA revealed that their data research uncovered a stunning fact: roughly 4,000 people signed-up to attend the Sweets & Snacks Expo each year, but failed to make it to their annual Chicago event. This created an obvious opportunity for the association to improve its engagement with industry members, something the NCA quickly jumped on. “It’s better to engage those who have already engaged your business than to start searching from scratch,” Wilson said.

So what can you do to track attendees? Protect their data. (Of course, there’s a difference between selling and sharing, and in some cases, it can prove hugely helpful to share data with your exhibitors.) Perhaps the most interesting thing highlighted in the data analysis is the fact that more associations and events are very protective of their attendees. For example, without hesitation, both the CTA and NCA say they wouldn’t sell their data to outside vendors.