Case Study

Exhibitor engagement done right

How the AAPA designed a virtual event that kept attendees engaged and left exhibitors satisfied


American Academy of Physician Assistants


AAPA 2021


Medical & Healthcare

Event Services


404: virtual exhibitor engagement not found

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) is the national professional society for PAs in the United States. The organization represents approximately 148,500 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in the United States and works to educate and advocate for those medical professionals as well as their patients. Each year, the AAPA hosts a conference to educate and engage with its community. When Covid-19 forced AAPA to take a virtual approach for the first time, the organizers focused on a crucial part of the event’s success: exhibitor engagement and satisfaction.

It’s no secret — exhibitor engagement hasn’t been an easy code to crack for virtual events, so exhibitors can be reluctant to sign on. Well aware of this hurdle, AAPA put careful thought and strategy into curating the exhibitor experience for its virtual AAPA 2021.


Keep your eye on the prize

The first step was finding the right virtual platform that would not only be intuitive for event attendees, but also deliver the features exhibitors need to better connect with potential leads. After locking in the platform with Freeman, AAPA created an internal cross-functional team made up of meeting professionals, business development, marketing, communications, and web designers. 

That internal team started by first creating a strong value proposition for the event geared directly towards exhibitors. The value prop made a strong case for why the event was a valuable use of exhibitors’ time and money, what metrics they could expect to receive, and why 2021 was the year not to miss.

Once the messaging was clear, the team collaborated to create an engaging program that would connect attendees to exhibitors in multiple ways throughout the event.

Communication and training

AAPA kept exhibitors in-the-know through email communication leading up to the event along with  the option to participate in training sessions for the virtual platform so that exhibitors felt confident going into the event.

Dedicated exhibit hall hours

During these specific time slots, sessions were paused and attendees were encouraged to focus on spending time networking with exhibitors.

Interactive scavenger hunt 

This interactive game required attendees to pinpoint a specific item in every single exhibitor booth within one hour. The hunt was held directly after the keynote while no other sessions were being held so that attendees would be more likely to participate. The prize? A brand new Peloton® bike.

Leaderboard rankings 

Attendees had the chance to gain points in fun ways throughout the event. Actions like attending sessions, going to product theaters, and scheduling meetings added up to points that ranked attendees and their progress on the event leaderboard. At the end of the event, the winner of the leaderboard also won a Peloton® bike.

Product theaters 

The theaters, which were available in several different formats (live, simulive and recorded) offered Grub Hub vouchers to participants, were so popular that the AAPA team added additional sessions after the first day of the event

Customized report

During the same week the event wrapped, exhibitors received a detailed data report of their booth’s performance metrics to help prove ROI to their stakeholders.


Engagement at every turn

AAPA may have been new to virtual, but the team was no stranger to a successful event. Because of the strategic approach and attention to detail, the team saw impressive engagement from attendees and received resounding positive feedback from exhibitors and sponsors. 

AAPA’s total exhibitor count exceeded its original goal by 62% and net new exhibitors made up 16% of the total count.

The product theaters turned out to be one of the most successful event offerings. When the team saw all the slots getting filled up on day one, they acted quickly to add more product theaters for attendees to join. This fast thinking kept attendees engaged and exhibitors happy.

1 %
over AAPA’s projected attendance goal
1 %
of the attendance was net new exhibitors

Need a partner?

Reach out and request a consultation.

This site uses cookies and other technologies, so we can remember you and understand how you and other visitors use our site. By continuing to browse, cookies will be set on your device. For more information, see our Cookie Policy.