Exhibitors and sponsors are key stakeholders for your event, and remain a vital component of your virtual meeting. However, managing virtual exhibits and sponsorships presents a steep learning curve. Virtual events don’t have official service contractors, which means that staff/vendors are now solely managing virtual expo deliverables. And managing deliverables on ever-changing technology platforms exponentially increases the complexity.
After managing 14 virtual expos in the past year, the Sponsorship Boost team has developed best practices for managing exhibit and sponsorship deliverables. In January of 2021, our staff managed virtual exhibits and sponsorships for The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).Our team executed the following steps, which are explained in more detail in our Case Study of AAC&U’s Annual Meeting. Here are some helpful tips for managing your virtual expo deliverables.
Step 1: Create the Virtual Prospectus AFTER Choosing Your Platform
Familiarity with the virtual platform you have chosen for your event is crucial to developing an effective virtual prospectus. Our experience with CadmiumCD allowed us to work with AAC&U’s staff to create an exciting menu of sponsorships that fully utilized the opportunities available on the platform. Platform knowledge not only allowed us to develop sponsorships with ROI for sponsors, but enabled our team to effectively deliver the benefits of the sponsorships during the meeting. Click HERE for an informative blog about Creating an Effective Virtual Prospectus, with our CEO Jen Kerhin.
Step 2: Kick-off Sales with a Platform Webinar for Exhibitors/Sponsors
Prior to the launch of sales, our team hosts a one-hour webinar for current and potential exhibitors and sponsors, detailing opportunities in the prospectus, ROI, and explaining how content would render on the platform during the meeting. A recording of the webinar is used during the sales process.
Step 3: Create “How-to” Videos
Send exhibitors clear instructions detailing how to upload assets to their virtual exhibit booths and submit deliverables for their sponsorships. Our Operations team creates “how-to” videos for each event that explain the process of building a virtual exhibit booth, and deadlines that work with the launch of the event platform are clearly communicated to exhibitors and sponsors. Information should be available for attendees once they are able to access the platform, which means that deadlines might be earlier than for an in-person event.
Step 4: Offer Exhibitors and Sponsors Technical Support
Establish clear channels of communication so that exhibitors can get help quickly if there are technical difficulties. Participating companies may not have experience with virtual meetings, or might not be familiar with the platform you chose. Plan for an exponential increase in the hand-holding you will do for your exhibitors and sponsors if your event is virtual.
Step 5: Create Virtual Green Rooms
Sponsored content is providing significant revenue for virtual expos. Work closely with the platform’s technical team to provide sponsored speakers detailed instructions for recording or participating in a live session. Tech checks are imperative, and you should develop a plan for delivering technical support for speakers and moderators. A chat room such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Discord should be used to communicate during the event.
Step 6: Learn to Be Flexible
The steps above will help you expertly manage your virtual meeting. But above all else, prepare to adjust your game plan as needed. The events Sponsorship Boost has managed over the past year prove that while the virtual expo world is challenging, it can successfully deliver meeting revenue, generate ROI for participating companies, and help you meet the goals of your meeting.
For more case studies on virtual expos, please visit our website pages. We can help you with virtual expo prospectus creation, virtual booth and sponsorship sales, and/or deliverables management. Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we might help you!