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Attendees walking around a supplier expo at a conference event
Madison ShepherdMar 28, 2024 5:05:39 PM8 min read

Sponsor & Attendee Engagement: Strategies for an Impactful Event

Navigating sponsorships and attendee interests is a challenge for many of our clients.

Join us as we dive into the realm of sponsor and attendee engagement and uncover key strategies to ensure a highly impactful event experience.

In this episode, Katie also talks about the importance of securing sponsorship support while also gauging attendee preferences for sponsor interactions.

About the Expert: Katie Moser

Katie Moser is the Director of Marketing and Business Development at GoGather. She has an extensive background in creating content and branding for events, working with speakers, and managing agendas for conferences. When she's not updating blog posts and sending out social media posts, she helps clients identify areas of opportunity for their events from branding to communications. 


Katie Moser: Hi everybody. Thanks for joining us on the Gather Gurus podcast. Today we're going to talk a little bit about sponsor engagement, tying that in a little bit with attendee engagement, and how you can really make that aspect of your event effective. 

We've seen this be kind of a challenge for clients in recent years, making sure that they're continuing to have sponsorship dollars and that people want to actually attend their event, but also balancing what attendees want and whether they want to interact with your sponsors. So we're going to dive into that a little bit today. Think through some of these things, and we'd love to get your thoughts on how you're engaging your sponsors, if there's anything interesting that you've seen recently and really make this a fun and effective conversation. So thanks, everybody. 

Madison Shepherd: Yeah. So can we kick this off by talking about the different ways that you've seen these programs structured? For example, some interesting ideas around partner incentives that you've seen? 

Katie Moser: Yeah, absolutely. So I think traditionally we see sponsorships be like tabletops at a conference or even just sponsorship halls or having your logo on things or announcing your partners at a general session. And I think some companies are reevaluating if that's effective anymore, if that's worth the money that they put into it. And also what the ROI is on that, I think it's hard to measure. 

So we've talked with some clients recently about some interesting new ways to structure sponsorships and even partnership and supplier incentives as well. So we've talked about how you can weave these different important players in your business into your conferences, or even into separate events that your attendees or your internal employees might be interested in. So for example, we've talked about having partners be involved in providing different trip opportunities for your event attendees so they can sponsor a trip or even host your attendees. 

So for example, if your supplier is important to your franchisor's business, then can they give them an exclusive day at their warehouse or at their office to learn about their company and how they can support your franchisees. We've seen interactive booths within sessions, which can be really effective if, let's say the person on stage is having a conversation about something and then the attendees can actually try it out in that or see what they're all about right after that conversation. That can be really effective. 

We've had expo halls where we do expo after dark where it's more of a casual setting. You have your sponsors there, they could have a booth or they could have lounge seating or different interactive stations where people can go and be in a larger kind of expo hall space but not feel so much like they have to go around to every booth and they're going to be talked at and those types of things. A little bit more casual setting. And even activations that's really popular right now, having your sponsors produce an evening event or even do different rooms that people can go to that are different activations and they all have different themes or activities in them, and that could be sponsored by your partners or whoever is sponsoring the event. So there's a lot of different ways that you can build in unique sponsorship opportunities that might provide more value to your sponsors than just having a tabletop or announcing their logos. 

Madison Shepherd: What are some additional interesting things you've seen regarding sponsorship packages? Do you have any recommendations on how people can sort of structure these? 

Katie Moser: Yeah, I mean, your sponsorship package is like your first touch with your sponsors. And so that's really where they can get an idea of, is this actually going to be valuable for the money that I'm spending? And some companies might not care, but a lot of them will really evaluate that. And we've kind of talked in the past about how attendees are evaluating what conferences are important for them to attend. 

Well, your sponsors are doing the same thing and they're evaluating their whole budget and how many events there are out in the world and what is going to be most effective. And so how can you use your sponsorship package to really explain that value to them? So for example, being able to provide numbers or logos of other sponsors is always really helpful. But finding new and interesting ways to provide sponsorships beyond just the tabletop or logos or whatever. 

Some companies will do co-marketing stuff or ad space or speaker sessions or those types of things. This can be more traditional, but you can think through things like what are some interactive ways that your sponsors can get in front of your attendees besides just having stuff talked to attendees. So if it's a speaker session, they're just talking at attendees, but if they're actually able to be on the ground chatting with people or on the ground interacting, that might provide more value. And so you could say if you host an activation evening event, for example, you can get in front of XYZ attendees, you can get in front of a thousand attendees and be able to actually interact with them. One-on-one doing a VIP dinner doing offsites, even.

That can be really fun having an offsite event where you go bowling or you go to a brewery or you go do something that is a little different than a typical sponsor activity. And you can really, I think, have a fun and interactive way for your sponsors to feel like they're getting what they want out of the conference. So yeah, I think it's really structuring your sponsorship package in a way that translates how much value you're giving to the sponsors versus just kind of the traditional, I'll put your logo in the pamphlet and tell everybody that you're our top sponsor. I think that kind of gets lost in the noise. 

Madison Shepherd: Yeah, those are great ideas. Do you have any additional ideas on how to make your attendees feel special during an event? 

Katie Moser: Yeah, so I think this can kind of tie in if you have your sponsors providing interesting new ways for attendees to interact with them. I mean, I think about going to a conference and I always avoid the booths because I don't want to get sold to. And so if there are different ways that your attendees can interact with your sponsors and get genuine interactions from them, that's great. And I also think you have to think about the attendee's' experience too. What do they actually want from the sponsors? Your sponsors are typically the ones helping you pay for an event, but you want them to feel like they're getting value, but you also want your attendees to feel like they're getting value so that they come back. So if there are different ways that your sponsors can help support that. So for example, we love to do in-room amenities, right? 

So especially for VIP guests, what do they have in their room when they arrive? Is it a chocolate platter or their favorite bottle of wine? Or something like that. How can your sponsors support that too, right? So are there ways that you can offer them something in their sponsorship package where they can offer a giveaway in people's rooms or just support those types of things, but also throughout the conference, how can you make things feel personalized for your attendees? 

So making sure that you're contributing to things that they're interested in and how can the sponsorship support that. So thinking through all those different avenues from the attendee experience can be really great from your sponsorship experience. And just tying those all together into your overall event plan will really help you, I think, create a more effective event. 

Thank you all for tuning in. We really appreciate it. We'd love to hear from you what you've seen recently that's worked well for your sponsorship packages, how you’re engaging your sponsors and even your partners and suppliers, what are things that you guys are doing to make sure that they're feeling the most love from your event, getting the most value? And then also from the attendee experience side, what are you doing to make them feel really special and tie that all together.


Madison Shepherd

Madison Shepherd is a Marketing Specialist at GoGather. When she's not writing blogs or sending out social media posts, she enjoys hiking, traveling, or reading at one of the many beautiful beaches in San Diego.