Booth Space to Virtual Space: Retaining Sponsorship Dollars in Online Events

Your event is moving from a physical venue to a virtual space. You know you need to secure technology, develop content, and engage attendees … but you’re stuck on how to maximize the investment of your exhibitors and sponsors. Don’t lose the revenue: virtual events can showcase their return on investment – and allow you to retain those sponsorship dollars.

At the most fundamental level, exhibitor and sponsor partners seek the same things in a virtual meeting or conference that they do on the show floor: avenues to connect with your organization’s audience, and opportunities to showcase their products and services. The keys to success are to communicate, to think creatively for branding and sponsorship opportunities, and to share valuable information and analytics.

Make the Connection

Direct outreach to exhibitors and sponsors provides the opportunity to explain how the virtual event will continue to support the organization or event mission and vision, as well as to enhance their commitment to any new or year-round opportunities. Providing a menu of options showcases the strength of your organization and proves that these partners are not an afterthought in the transition from a live event.  This also allows you to create custom packages of opportunities and upsell, but more importantly, keeps them tied to your organization throughout the year.

Partner communications should be transparent about online event registration, the expected impact from year-round opportunities, and any future event plans.  Our team is finding that people are becoming more and more engaged in virtual events, both due to the availability of time as well as when they are unable to attend a live event for any number of reasons, not just the current pandemic. While live events will always have their unique advantages, online event engagement is growing.

Delivering Value: Sponsorship Ideas

There are a tremendous number of online opportunities across the entire event experience. A few our team is having success with include:

  • Content marketing opportunities to sell, from the first announcement throughout all of the communications and marketing phases. Create a highlight article on a sponsor instead of  – or in addition to – a banner ad. Conduct an interview with one of their thought leaders or customers. The sponsorship package can include placing this content on social media, on your event website, through email marketing, and more. Highlight their successes.
  • All of the myriad elements that comprise a successful event can be sponsored or underwritten.  For example, elevate the experience by providing attendees with a digital event bag that includes access to exhibitor and sponsor information. Provide all attendees with a sponsored e-gift card to have food delivered for lunch. Allow a sponsor to host a virtual happy hour at the end of conference days.
  • One of our most successful sponsorship offerings at OATUG Forum – a two-week virtual conference we created to replace the live COLLABORATE experience – has been the opportunity to serve in the role of introducing session speakers.  Sponsors are able to select their session and have two-three minutes to speak to an audience that aligns with their products at the start.

Ramp Up the ROI

Exhibitor and sponsor value is in the conversations and connections made with attendees. As event managers, we set up one-on-one meetings or promote specific blocks of time for direct connections, moderate and provide session chat content, create custom prize giveaways for added visibility – and most importantly, analyze and deliver the metrics that matter: not just the numbers, but the broader context and conversation trends that can help their businesses grow.

Just as live event success takes more than a great venue, a successful virtual meeting or conference takes more than technology. At the end of the day, if your event attracted exhibitors and sponsors for a traditional live event, it can attract exhibitors and sponsors for your virtual event.  

Let our expert team show you how. Learn more about our virtual meetings and conference services.

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