Tips from those who have taken the plunge.
1. There can be many benefits to co-locating, including cost, resource, and revenue sharing, expanding brand reach, bringing added value to attendees and exhibitors, and creating a more comprehensive industry event. Above all, there must be some benefit for people to attend both events.
2. There are different degrees of co-location, which can vary from two groups sharing a facility and date for their events but maintaining separate identities and finances, to groups co-branding a new event and creating a mutual budget and financial arrangement, to some variation in between, such as two or more groups co-locating their expos but not their conference programs.
3. An essential ingredient of any co-location: trust between the organizations putting together the co-location. Trust should be established from the top down in each organization early in the planning process.
4. Each group must create clear goals for the co-location, and together work out an equitable revenue- and cost-sharing plan and budget that reflect those goals.
5. Mutually create a framework or guide for achieving goals and handling logistics, ironing out important details, and exploring how to handle contingencies. Form committees for different aspects, and schedule regular meetings or conference calls throughout the planning process.
6. Make the co-location experience as seamless as possible for all attendees and exhibitors in areas such as registration, housing, on-site kiosks, show guides, and ground transportation.
7. The smaller partner in many co-locations is often concerned about maintaining and growing its brand. Develop a strategy for achieving this through marketing, signage, floor plans, and so on. A major advantage of co-locating for the smaller partner is the opportunity that cross-marketing affords, exposing that organization and its event to a larger audience.
8. Early on, involve as many segments of the meetings industry as possible to get buy-in and partnership, including hotels, the convention bureau, vendors, and service providers.