Building valuable sponsor partnerships

Sponsorship and exhibition manager Nihal Fernandez uncovers recent trends and insights to help build meaningful sponsorship partnerships for business events

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

Traditional approaches that focused primarily on brand visibility are being called into question, not only by sponsors but also 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 to ensure they are satisfied with their investment, not only after a conference but also during the lead-up.

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

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

Six proven sponsorship models

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

  1. Providing educational grants to enable those from developing countries or younger professionals to participate in the conference. The additional 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), which 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 best sustainability practices and actively 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, being provided with private meeting space as well as exhibition space.

Explore more tips and advice from conference organisers, industry suppliers and other industry leaders

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