PCMA’s Catalyst community offers members a platform to ask each other questions, share ideas, or, as the website says, “communicate and collaborate.” Here’s a sampling from a recent Catalyst discussion.
“Does anyone have any sponsorship benefit ideas you are offering for virtual conferences?” Melissa Abuel, manager of conferences for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, asked the PCMA Catalyst community. “We have a small group of sponsors — around 15 — and don’t have an exhibit hall, so a virtual exhibit hall probably wouldn’t be beneficial to us. I would love ideas of benefits that can be offered with the virtual conference shift, especially ways to interact with attendees.”
I imagine that you’ll get all sorts of wonderful ideas. Here’s one to consider: Ask a sponsor to host a virtual happy hour. Attendees would have to sign up and opt-in to emails — thus, providing the sponsor with their email contact information — and can give a mailing address. The sponsor can host the happy hour via Zoom or another online platform so attendees can receive an email with the calendar appointment and a link to the online meeting room.
After attendees sign up, the sponsor can ship a branded glass and some fun stuff, like packaged snacks, drink mix, a branded reusable straw, a CD from a local artist, a branded candle, etc. I don’t think it’s legal to ship alcohol across state lines – at least not without a lot of paperwork. But I could be mistaken. Or perhaps it’s legal to send those little airplane-sized bottles of alcohol. Could be a lot of fun!
— Melanie Stanton, CAE, CFRE, director, programs and development, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Here are a few sponsor/exhibitor ideas that we have been working on as we help our clients transition from live to virtual events.
- Provide exhibitors an “online booth” with the capability to post white papers, videos, demos, and other collateral materials.
- Provide the opportunity for them to have a one on one live chat with attendees.
- Facilitate lead capture abilities or provide the leads after the show.
- Reward attendees for visiting an expo area via gamification.
- Just as in a live event, provide your sponsors with a contact person to manage customer and technical service.
I hope these [ideas] are helpful.
— Sammy Caban, president & chief experience officer, Innov8 Events Agency
PCMA has created a COVID-19 resources page to help event professionals find reliable information about the pandemic and to share events industry-related resources to ensure they are prepared now and in the future.