By: Kim Barclay
You’re Having WHAT at the Conference?
The South Atlantic JUBILEE is a convention and tradeshow that started in 1955 in Carolina Beach, South Carolina and they joined Partners as a new client in 2012. Attendees are comprised of many family owned businesses in the water well industry and have a long history of attending this event. Exhibitors and sponsors are the companies that provide heavy equipment, products and services to the industry.
The JUBILEE’s board, sponsors and exhibitors ask, “What are we going to do?” “Is anything exciting being planned?” As meeting planners, executive directors and volunteers, we all struggle with it. What do we do to make our conference and tradeshow more interesting, engaging and keep attendees on the floor? Short of hiring a celebrity, or a famous band, it is an annual endeavor to invent unique sponsorships. You have to keep it fresh, exciting and out-do what you did the year before.
REEVALUATE YOUR ATTENDEES
Most conference tradeshows don’t allow children under the age of 18 on the floor. But in the current professional climate, people are working harder than ever to balance work and family time. Is it possible that your conference is also a quasi-vacation for some? Are your attendees bringing their families? If so, then consider letting children under 18 on the tradeshow floor. Attendees will be spending time with their kids AND visiting booths on the floor. There are several important elements to factor in:
- Make sure your exhibitors are aware well in advance so they can plan around having kids on the floor and around their booths.
- Create a kid friendly section or a “Kids Zone” with supervision and activities such as bounce houses, video game and animals. Yes, I said animals. At one of the tradeshows I manage, we have a petting zoo and camel rides. Also, animals are walked around the floor with a handler. All of these things are sponsored.
- Speak to your CSM and convention manager to make sure you adhere to all the rules and regulations specific to your property. You might have to have some things outdoors or need additional insurance.
DON’T TRY AND REINVENT THE WHEEL
- Talk to your CSM at the property and find out what on the property can be used for branding and sponsorship. Things like water coolers and general seating around the property are often over looked as sponsorship opportunities. Things of this nature are easy and an inexpensive option for smaller sponsorship dollars.
- Talk to the event manager at the property AND the exhibit decorator. They work with other groups and will have information and interesting ideas that you can use for your own conference. You can contact the other groups that have been there and find out what works and what didn’t and how they did it. There is nothing wrong with using someone else’s ideas if it works for your meeting.
All ideas begin with a thought. THINK BIG! Think so big that there is no way that it can happen, and then pare it down little by little. You never know what new ideas and concepts come from thinking big and can be shaped and tailored to fit your conference and sponsors. Your sponsors, exhibitors and attendees will see and appreciate the innovative ideas put together for an amazing conference and tradeshow.