Building valuable sponsor partnerships

Three people standing around a table at the Michael Fowler Centre.

Even before the pandemic affected business events, sponsors were reassessing the conferences they support and how to maximise their return on investment.

Traditional approaches that focus on brand visibility have been called into question. This is by sponsors and by host organisations looking for ways to provide more value in return. The Conference Company’s sponsorship and exhibition manager Nihal Fernandez uncovers six examples of sponsorship models that are proving successful for sponsors and organisers alike.

Creating valuable sponsor partnerships

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the way sponsorship conversations are conducted and how offers are designed. This trend has led to a more diverse range of sponsorships, earlier commitment by sponsors, and stronger working relationships between hosts and sponsors. The move from set packages to bespoke offers resonates well with both parties.

It is now more important than ever that conference hosts stay in close contact with sponsors. This is to ensure they are satisfied with their investment after a conference and during the lead-up.

Similarly, keeping sponsors up-to-date with data about participant numbers and profiles is now a key deliverable. For example, positions, work locations, and speciality interests (without breaching privacy).

To ensure the best outcomes for all involved, always keep a close eye on what’s working and be open to change.

Two people talking at a small black round table at MEETINGS23, a conference created by Business Events Industry Aotearoa.

Six proven sponsorship models

Sponsors are particularly interested in aligning with education, new ways of thinking, and problem-solving. These are some initiatives that are proving popular.

  1. Providing educational grants for those from developing countries or younger professionals to take part in the conference. The extra reach when a conference is hybrid or virtual is even more appealing.
  2. Being acknowledged as supporting a speaker (identified and invited by the host), demonstrates the sponsor’s commitment to thought leadership.
  3. Delivering a digital event immediately after the in-person conference, with highlight sessions and content curated by the sponsor.
  4. Being part of a conference that follows sustainability practices and encourages sponsors to mirror those.
  5. Being allocated enough exhibition space to allow for the set-up of hands-on workshops and presentations.
  6. As a key sponsor, access to a private meeting space and exhibition space.