6 Out-of-the-Box Ways to Create Sponsor Opportunities

Sponsors. For many types of events, like expos and exhibits, they’re absolute must-haves. And to maximize revenue, it’s generally a case of the more the merrier, in some cases with sponsors signing on virtually ’til doors open. While all that extra sponsor-generated cash is great for the event’s organizers, it’s the planner who’s usually charged with the unenviable task of accommodating all those last-minute additions, long after all available space has been spoken for (eek!).

So, how to make room for more sponsors when there’s little if any to spare? Instead of trying to cram sponsor displays into dark corners or less than ideal locations, consider creating instead unique experiences within in the event and unusual or unexpected branding opportunities that will put sponsor brands into the hands and minds of your attendees – for not much more than a few hundred dollars. Here are a few ideas to consider the next time your client calls to say ‘We’ve got another sponsor!’ – and you’re short on options:

1) Sponsored Opening Reception
As most events will feature a first night Welcome Reception regardless, why not slip in some extra enhancements ‘presented by’ a few key sponsors. While there’s always the option of naming rights or ‘title sponsor’ benefits for larger contributors, for smaller contributors, opportunities can include items like branded cocktails; logo napkins; branded cups/glasses; branded hors d’oeuvres trays; branded T-shirts or caps on wait staff;  branded bar and table signage; or conversation-starter ‘sponsored by’ activities such as palm reading, progressive wine tastings, or ‘game-ified’ challenges such as treasure hunts or competitive business card exchanges.

2) Sponsored Networking Lounge
With most gatherings taking place at break-neck speed, finding a few minutes and a quiet, comfortable yet convenient place to exchange ideas can be a challenge. Rather than leaving your group scrambling to find a networking space, create one. A sponsored Networking Lounge – which can be something as simple as a few hi-boy cocktail tables set aside in the prefunction space or as elaborate as a ballroom – can be an excellent way to bring great minds together for informal brainstorming. Another sponsorship opportunity? Having all-day coffee available nearby.

3) Sponsored Wi-Fi Service
While yes, every conference venue worth its salt has Wi-Fi  these days, it’s also a question of bandwidth which can get very expensive – particularly when you’re looking at a few hundred people all working simultaneously, often on more than one device at any given time. What’s in your budget simply may not be enough to cover it. To help defray the cost, sponsored Wi-Fi, complete with ‘Wi-Fi exclusively presented by’ signage throughout the venue, is a simple way to prominently feature a sponsor without needing to actually rent more space.

4) Sponsored Charging Stations
One of the most appreciated amenities at any conference? Charging stations! For a few hundred dollars a day, you can have a high-profile, sponsored ‘Power Bar’ phone and tablet recharging station on hand, wrapped in a custom ‘skin’ featuring sponsor logo(s), key messaging, etc. Among the more popular styles is the the standing ‘bar’ style charging station, where guests plug in and stand by to power up; or the ‘locker’ style where guests plug in, lock up their devices while they charge, and return an hour or so later to retrieve their device.

5) Sponsored Pre- and Post-Event Wellness ‘Moments’
Got wellness sponsors? Then consider offering a branded, ‘chair’ yoga class in the morning before doors open, or a late afternoon meditation ‘happy hour’ session to help guests relax and unwind at the end of the day. Just a small conference room, some chairs, a few yoga mats, waters and a practitioner is all that’s needed. And don’t forget to brand the yoga mats, chairs and bottled waters!

6) Sponsored “Catch Box” Throwable Microphone
Probably the most ingenious device I saw in action recently at a conference was Catchbox, a light weight, throwable(!) padded-foam microphone. No more wasted time running to get microphones into the hands of guests during Q & A sessions! When an attendee wishes to speak, they raise their hand, a staffer tosses them a Catchbox, they catch it and begin speaking into it just as they would do with a standard mic. Compatible with all common AV set ups, I saw them flying through the air at numerous 50-person seminars and in a 1,000 seat auditorium, and they worked beautifully. Catchboxes can be customized for sponsors – as often as you like – with the addition of a removable custom logo ‘skin’ that can be swapped in and out as, enabling sponsors to own individual sessions like the plenary and breakouts – or the entire event.

Photo credits: Shutterstock.com

Kate Doyle Hooper

Kate Doyle Hooper

Since establishing her own company over a decade ago, Kate has produced just about every kind of event imaginable, from executive meetings and conferences to live music performances, mobile tours, fashion shows, celebrity gifting suites, and retail events for companies such as American Media, Bloomingdale’s, Conde Nast, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, Hearst, Macy’s, Perry Ellis, Time Inc., Wilhelmina Models and Rodale, to name a few. Kate's editorial and advertising work has been published in Budget Living, ELLE, Fit, Civilization, Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, Essence, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Men's Fitness, Men's Health and Shape, as well as on blog.cvent.com and weekendwalk.com.

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