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Are Experiential Sponsorships Right for Your Show?

By Michael Schaiman and David Haas

AT A GLANCE

  • How experiential sponsorships can help track ROI
  • Ways to utilize experiential tech before, during, and after the event
  • Why this new approach to sponsorship improves engagement

Finding new ways for sponsors to engage with attendees can help show organizers and event marketers grow their events by leaps and bounds.

Today, there’s a whole new slate to consider: experiential sponsorships. These technology-based sponsorships can benefit attendees, sponsors, and the show by unlocking a huge range of highly desirable and attainable options.

What are experiential sponsorships?

Traditionally, sponsorships have been physical elements like banners, signs, and wraps, which are excellent for brand recognition. Some sponsors, however, seek more interaction and the ability to track ROI.

Enter experiential sponsorships, which allow brands to sponsor digital technologies like chatbots, AR/VR, digital signage, and more.

Experiential sponsorships in action

Here are a few experiential technology options that can easily become part of an event’s sponsorship inventory:

Pre-show

Event website chatbots: Chatbots are AI-powered programs that engage in online conversations with humans. As attendees visit the show’s website, the chatbot can field routine questions, improving attendee satisfaction and easing event staff workload. A sponsored chatbot can repeatedly put the sponsor’s name in front of attendees long before the show, providing a major head start.

During the show

Socially shareable experiences: Instagrammable-moments at events can create huge buzz with photo opportunities that provide branded designs, unique environments, and fun personalization. Imagine a sponsor’s thrill when attendees share their sponsor-branded photos all over social media.

Virtual assistant: A virtual assistant, like Alexa or Google Assistant, can become a helpful information station for attendees, steering them towards coffee, bathrooms, or the next session. Not only do these virtual assistants provide marketers and organizers with valuable data about what attendees are asking, they also provide a sponsorship opportunity with repeatable touchpoints.

Storytelling with AR/VR: Attendees can interact with the sponsor’s brand story in custom 360-degree environments, viewable by headset (virtual reality) or mobile device (augmented reality). These experiences are memorable, fully immersive, and offer the kind of thrill that make attendees want to tell their networks.

Post-show

Flash briefings: Brands can get their names into attendees’ ears all year long by sponsoring flash briefings, where attendees can receive quick industry or event information via their virtual assistant device, “Brought to you by” the sponsor.

Redeploy AR/VR activation: If a sponsor selected an AR or VR storytelling experience for the show, they can keep the experience going by deploying the technology in their own environment, with minimal additional expense.

What are the benefits of experiential sponsorships?

For sponsors and event professionals alike, the benefits of experiential sponsorships abound because they:

  • They create an interactive and engaging experience that sticks out in the mind of attendees.
  • Many of these experiences encourage attendees to interact multiple times.
  • Sponsorship inventory isn’t limited to the event venue, or the timeframe of the event itself.
  • They give brands new reasons to get excited about sponsoring.
  • They allow data gathering and make it easier to measure and track ROI.

This last point can't be overstated. It’s impossible to measure exactly how many people looked at a sponsor’s banner, but it’s easy to measure how many people interacted with a virtual assistant and heard the sponsor's message. That allows them to see a measurable ROI, making future sponsorship decisions simpler.

Does all of this power come at a price? Yes, but it’s surprisingly attainable for most events. There’s a broad range of options available, allowing for maximum flexibility and scalability.

Getting started with experiential sponsorships

The key to getting started with experiential sponsorships is to not be intimidated by the array of options.

Instead, simply ask, “How can we create a more innovative experience and monetize it?” A good event partner will work with you to figure out what that will look like, and which options will be the best fit for your sponsors, your budget, and your event goals.

From there, you can determine which types of experiential sponsorships to add to your catalog. Because the metrics for these types of sponsorships are easy to track, it becomes a simple task to adjust the offerings each year, scaling offerings as the show grows, and taking full advantage of this new, exciting, and high-value way to attract new sponsors and revitalize existing ones

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