Posts

Event sponsors are an invaluable resource for event managers, especially those who find themselves with aspirations above their budgets. But, sponsorship is a give-and-take relationship. Of course, sponsors want to ensure that their companies are reflected favorably within your events in exchange for their financial support. But, they want more than simply having their logos and branding displayed throughout the event; they want to ensure that they are working with an event manager they trust and who values the relationship. They’re looking for a partner.

To show sponsors that you value their relationship, there are things that you can do to keep them coming back event after event (assuming their product/service is in line with the theme of the event). Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re the only event manager seeking their sponsorship. As with personal relationships, sponsors can always have others vying for their support and presenting more attractive offers.

To stay in good stead with your sponsors, here are five strategies for nurturing the relationship before, during, and after your event, so they look forward to working with you when the next event rolls around.  

Maintain Open Lines of Communication

Again, as with personal relationships, communication is an essential component of a healthy relationship. Show sponsors that you’re committed to their brand and value the relationship by initiating conversations. This could be as simple as providing regular updates (both positive and negative) during the event or congratulating them on business achievements you’ve learned about in industry news.  

Communicating in these ways will not only have sponsors trust you, but they’ll feel a sense of community with you.

Personalize Your Communication

After you’ve secured the sponsorship, don’t rest on your laurels and neglect to continue being polite and accommodating. Keep in mind you’re dealing with another person (or group) who wants to be treated with respect and kindness. Sure, they represent an entity, but at the end of the day, they’re just people.

Your communication with your sponsorship contacts should be personalized by always using their names in any correspondence or phone conversations. When someone shows kindness, remember the Golden Rule and express your gratitude in a timely manner. 

Be courteous and give your contacts time to assemble any information or materials you may need from them. Don’t wait until the last minute and make them feel rushed. Remember they have other pressing matters to attend to other than your event. Within 24 hours of the event wrap-up, send sponsors an email or, better yet, a thank you card. Personal touches like this will stand out and be remembered.

Show Them the Benefits

Although sponsorship company contacts are people, they represent a business, and that business has specific goals when they offer financial support. When you approach them with a sponsorship request, you should get a clear idea of those goals and show them the tangible benefits of partnering with your event. Be specific about how you can help them reach their goals, whether to increase web traffic, lead generation, or actual sales. 

If they agree to offer support, you must deliver on everything you’ve promised and show them how successful you both were thanks to your partnership. eShow can help you provide specific data to sponsors to show how those goals were reached.

Create a “Memento” Package

You are planning to take pictures of logos, signage, and product placement to help in promotional materials for future events, right? Why not assemble those photos along with event collateral and present them to sponsors along with your data report

This will not only prove to sponsors that you did what you promised, but it will also show that you find them worthy of special attention.

Treat Sponsors Like the VIPs They Are

Let’s face it; your grand event may not have been possible without the financial support of your sponsors. Show your appreciation by adding value to their involvement by facilitating networking opportunities. If you feel that your sponsors could benefit from connecting with one another, make an introduction. Or, if your sponsorship contact has a penchant for one of your speakers or performers, set up a meeting. 

Whatever you can do to make your sponsors feel special will go a long way towards showing that you don’t take their contribution to your event for granted. If your event results in them meeting their sponsorship goals and making favorable business connections, you’ll be In a good position to reach out for future sponsorship.

Final Thoughts

Providing sponsors and exhibitors with favorable Return On Investment (ROI) data will encourage them to participate in future events. But if you really want to go the extra mile and wow sponsors, the strategies above will keep you at the forefront of their minds. Not only will they be likely to sponsor future events, but they’ll be so impressed with your attentiveness that they may even approach you about being a part of future events. 

Partnering with sponsors can result in wildly successful events.  If you partner with eShow, we can help you manage those partnerships to achieve maximum results.  Our Lead Retrieval module is an attendance tracking service that will show sponsors/exhibitors how many event attendees participated in their sessions or presentations.  But our support doesn’t stop there. Our web-based tools can help you manage your entire event from conception to execution. 

Whether you’re hosting in-person, hybrid, or virtual events, we can provide the tools you need for event success all under one roof, so you don’t have to work with multiple vendors. We’ve launched a new campaign (“We Are Wherever You Need Us”) whose primary concept is “tell us what you need/are looking for, and we’ll tell you which products will work best.”

Contact us today for a no-obligation demo to learn more about this campaign and how eShow can meet all of your event management needs.

Today’s consumers are exposed to thousands of advertisements every day – and they’re getting burned out. The constant influx of marketing messages has led people to simply ignore the bulk of them. This makes it incredibly difficult for brands to get through the defenses consumers have built up and influence their buying decisions.

Marketers and event planners striving to make an impact must step outside the box and find creative ways to engage their target customers. Experiential Marketing is one approach that can bring exceptional results. Incorporating this concept into your events can make them both more exciting and more effective.

Ready to learn more? Stick with us as we break down precisely what experiential marketing is and how you can use it to liven up your future events.

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing involves using immersive experiences to market a product or a brand. It allows brands to go beyond telling consumers why they should buy a product and instead create an intimate, personal experience with it. This gives consumers the chance to feel the emotions that come with actually using a product and makes them feel like they’re a part of your brand. It also gives the brand a chance to build a stronger relationship with the consumer and demonstrate value.   

It’s common for clips of experiential marketing to go viral, thanks to the excitement it creates. These events should be fun, social, and always keep the consumer experience front and center. Using your creativity to weave experiential marketing into your events will help you truly “Wow” your clients and keep you a step ahead of your competitors.

Examples of Experiential Marketing Done Right

Still not clear on what experiential marketing is and how to incorporate it into your next event? Take a look at these three show-stopping examples.

HBO’s Escape Room

Most people are familiar with escape room games. These interactive rooms require you to solve puzzles and find clues so you can “escape” the room within the set time limit. In 2017, HBO made a splash with its own set of escape rooms, which they set up at the South by Southwest® (SXSW) event.

The company created three separate escape rooms based on their popular shows VeepSilicon Valley, and Game of Thrones. The event was incredibly successful because it required participants to be fully engaged, brought some of their most popular fictional shows to life, and allowed fans to literally become a part of them.

Disney’s CoCo Live Mobile App

When Disney’s event CoCo Live showed at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, patrons were asked to download a smartphone app before the show. Then, during the show, they were able to watch close-ups of characters on stage, receive exciting still clips, and interact in other ways during key performance moments. Based on the success of these types of broadcasts, event planners may consider using their own mobile apps to enhance their experiences in exciting new ways.

Asics “Support Your Marathoner” Campaign

During the NYC Marathon, shoe company Asics used RFID tags embedded in runners’ bibs to project messages from loved ones on big screens as participants passed them. The screens showed texts, still photos, and videos to give the runners the encouragement they needed to finish out their race. 

Since the NYC Marathon is one of the largest in the world, this gave the company an incredible amount of exposure in a way that didn’t feel like advertising. Rather than blocking the images out because they were highly personalized, participants and viewers went out of their way to pay attention to them. 

Tips for Planning Your Experiential Marketing Event

As you start to plan your next experiential marketing event, there are a few basics you need to know. Be sure to consider the following vital tips.

1. Creativity is Critical

The best experiential marketing campaigns are new and exciting. This means you’ll have to use your creativity to develop an experience that hasn’t been done before. It’s important to note that you don’t have to have a huge budget to pull this off. You’ll need to use your imagination and find a way to make the crowd stop and say, “Wow.”

2. Make it a Sensory Experience

Try to make sure your experience uses all of a person’s five senses – sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. This is the best way to create vivid memories that will stick with your audience well after they’ve gone home.

3. Find Creative Sample Opportunities

It’s important not to be too “sales-y” when creating these experiences. However, if you can find ways to creatively get the product in people’s hands, then you’ll definitely want to do it. This might include a pop-up tasting, free samples, or on-the-spot free trials. Not only will this help get people interested in your brand, but it will also make them more engaged.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Big

When planning your experience, do your best to create something shocking. Remember, the point is to get people to pay attention. That’s not always easy to do, so be prepared to go big.

5. Remember Your Call to Action

You don’t want to get people all excited about your brand and then leave them wondering what to do. While you’ve got their attention and their goodwill, be sure to prompt them to take some sort of action.

Experiment with Confidence

Experimenting with new marketing methods is easy when you have the right partners by your side. At eShow, we provide event organizers and planners with all the tools they need to flawlessly plan, execute, and follow up on their events. This gives you the ability to incorporate exciting new ideas and still feel confident that everything will go as smoothly as it should. Contact us today to learn more and request a personal demo!

It’s physiologically given that we need food to survive. Food primes our organic engines, and much like animals in the wild, if we don’t eat, we die.

But how we differ from our animal counterparts is what we eat is more than a means to survival. Food also offers an emotional connection. You probably have great memories of sitting at the kitchen table and eating a tasty snack with a sibling or parent. Or you could recall the warmth of gathering around the dining room table for a delicious meal with family and friends. 

That is why it’s baffling that, when it comes to planning conferences, meetings, or events, the role of food is an afterthought. In reality, a little planning and creativity can turn your food and beverage offerings from “meh” to memorable! 

Where We Are Now

Raise your hand if this event/conference/meeting food presentation is familiar.

Round tables with seating for 8 to 10 people (most of whom are strangers to one another) are set up in a standard ballroom or banquet hall. At each seat are a plated salad, dessert, and a glass of water. Stone-faced waitstaff serves the hot food (typically some variation of chicken.)

Or, there’s the buffet, another common method of food presentation. Here you have the usual protein (again, most likely chicken), various salads, vegetables, rolls, and dessert. The stone-faced waitstaff is again evident, this time operating the food stations. 

In either case, the food might be perfectly all right. But if you were to quiz your attendees, later on, they might not have any lasting memory about what they ate or how it was presented. If you aim to ensure a memorable event, taking a casual approach to the eatables is not the best plan.

Let’s think of a few ways in which you can make the food at your event a more notable experience. We talked about the mediocre chicken that doesn’t typically turn a head but there are many ways to upscale your food while staying budget friendly. 

If food is being served at your event, be aware of the manner in which it’s being presented. By creating a unique presentation that is exclusive to your event’s brand, you are sure to turn some heads. You can do this through the food’s layout or even by incorporating some different serving platters/utensils. 

Understanding the Eating & Emotional Connections

Religious and historic texts consistently tie food with hospitality. The focus involves inviting friends, family, and even strangers into a home and breaking bread with them. That link between nutrition and hospitality continues today for the following reasons.

It creates memories and warmth

Most people are familiar with the Norman Rockwell painting, “Freedom from Want.” This iconic oil canvas depicts a family at a Thanksgiving table, happily eyeing a large turkey held by grandma, created in response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address. This painting symbolizes family, food, and peace. It also depicts the importance of get-togethers during meals.

The emotional connection of communal eating goes beyond a Rockwellesque interpretation. Peer-reviewed studies note that eating with others leads to higher levels of sharing and communication. As such, breaking bread with family and friends generates positive emotions.

It supports cultural and religious identities

Food is essential for connecting us with our heritage and background. Preparing, presenting, and participating in food-related rituals is vital in reminding us of where we all come from. Different types of eatables are also connected with various religious festivals and observances. For instance:

  • Feasting and sweets are important during the Hindu holiday of Diwali
  • Meat (especially lamb) is a staple offering during the Muslim observance of Ed al-Adha
  • Devout Catholics eat fish on Fridays and many times, during Lent
  • Latkes, or fried potatoes, are regularly consumed throughout the Jewish holiday of Chanukah

It can boost physical health

Research indicates that loner eating can lead to bad habits. Let’s face it; dining alone, in many cases, can be depressing.

On the other hand, eating with friends, colleagues, or family can help slow the rate of food consumption. While dining, interactions with others means people eat more slowly and savor what they put in their mouths. And, unless you are with argumentative people, breaking bread with people you like can also be relaxing. This, in turn, helps with digestion.

Finally, sharing a meal with others can lead to mutual ideas and stronger ties while building lasting relationships. If you think about it, this isn’t too different from the goals and purposes of conventions, meetings, or events.

Putting Food First

The takeaway is that an event’s food and beverage offerings are as crucial as its content and presenters. To help ensure that your meeting or conference stands out in the area of edibles, consider sourcing locally. Contracting with local food vendors can be an excellent idea for the following reasons:

It improves sustainability. The “farm-to-table” and “sea-to-plate” focus means fresher foods. Protein and vegetables don’t have as far to travel and require fewer resources, meaning a smaller carbon footprint.

It highlights the locale. Local meals and recipes can make cuisine fun for attendees. For example, crabs or clam chowder can be a tasty addition to your Boston conference. And consider serving Vienna beef sandwiches or Chicago-style hot dogs at that next Chicago event.

In addition to this, consider the following suggestions for food offerings.

Change the Environment

A large dining hall, conference room, or ballroom may have the capacity needed for your event but many times lacks in personality and charm. The absence of windows and yellow overhead lighting can often feel more incaving than inviting. Rather than setting mealtime in that dull, large ballroom, look for other options. Temperature and weather permitting, outdoor spaces can be great for casual dining (and gives meeting participants a much-needed breath of fresh air).

Or rather than hosting a lengthy hour-long buffet in a grand ballroom, consider taking over a cozier hotel bar and serving bite-size finger foods to be consumed at small tables. This can reduce the “heaviness” of larger meals, while the modest-sized tables can help with more personalized networking efforts.

Personalize the Offerings

Swap out indifferent servers for personable and friendly waitstaff. Or, if you’re planning a buffet, hire outgoing, extroverted servers and “chefs.” Encourage these individuals to make your participants feel “at home” with welcoming conversation or asking questions about their wellbeing.

Make it Interactive

Earlier, we mentioned that food preparation can be just as important as consumption. Take this idea a little further by encouraging meeting attendees to take an active role in planning. This can be done either with a cooking demonstration (with meeting participants eating the results), or your event can offer hands-on cooking classes if the time permits. 

Serve It Family-Style

Rather than plating each meal separately, place an abundance of food on platters, put them on the table, and have attendees serve themselves. Family-style meals are great icebreakers, as their friendly vibe can break the ice, encouraging conversation.

Boosting Your Event Connections

While the goals of any meeting or conference you produce might involve networking and education, another overall objective is to encourage your participants to talk with one another. When handled properly, food and beverage can help in this endeavor. People forge great connections by breaking bread with one another. Bringing this idea into your planning can help create a memorable event. Let our seasoned team here at eShow help you create a unique event, one that is both tasty and impactful!

By now, doing things virtually has become a way of life. For event planners, this often means working with clients that you rarely or never see in person. While things are slowly starting to return to “normal,” many people are still working from home and attending events virtually. Living life behind the laptop is now commonplace.

In the competitive world of event planning, it’s vital to cultivate solid client relationships – but how do you do this in a virtual environment? From improving your communications to taking steps to build trust, it’s essential to nurture your connections continually. Here are a few simple ideas that you can implement right away. 

1. Respect Communication Preferences

When it comes to nurturing relationships, communication is key. However, one size does not fit all. Before you reach out, take the time to learn how they prefer to communicate. While phone calls and emails may be standard practice, many people prefer to receive text messages or direct messages through social media.

Communicating in the virtual world has its own set of challenges. By leaving face-to-face interactions and phone calls behind, direct messaging can easily be taken out of context. This is why it is essential to approach your client with clear and transparent goals in mind, allowing little room for confusion or misinterpretation. Positioning ourselves in an assertive, authentic, and concise manner will likely boost response rates.

When you choose the method that makes your client the most comfortable, you’re showing that you respect their needs. Doing so also increases the chances that you’ll receive a positive response.

2. Find Valuable Reasons to Reach Out

Time crunches and constraints are standard now, so getting your clients’ attention can be challenging. When you reach out, make it a point to provide materials that demonstrate true value. Whether it’s a quick check-in with an update on a project or a creative new idea, make sure they know that your communication will be worth their time.

Make an effort to customize each message. It may seem like a time-saver to send out a bulk check-in email, but your clients will notice. Instead, craft your message so it’s entirely relevant for the client you’re reaching out to. Also, make sure your relationship-building communications don’t overlap with sales calls. It’s important to occasionally let clients know you’re thinking about them without trying to make a sale. 

3. Get Personal   

To develop a real relationship with your clients, you’ll need to remain open and welcoming. This means making time for personal chatting, even when you’re busy. Remember that clients want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Taking a minute to ask about their personal life will make you likable and will help build a firm relationship between the customer and seller. This is even more important in the virtual world, where many people are craving personal interaction. These small conversations will have long-lasting effects with potential to enhance productivity and customer retention.

4. Turn on the Camera

While you may not feel entirely comfortable seeing yourself on the screen, you’re doing yourself a disservice by holding meetings in “audio-only” mode. When your clients can see your smiling face, your home office, and your dog lying in the background, they’ll automatically feel more connected to you. So, make sure you clean up your office, run a brush through your hair, and turn that camera on.

5. Pay Attention to Body Language

Using video in your conference calls also gives you another advantage. When you can see the person you’re talking to, you’ll be able to pick up on the signals they’re subconsciously sending to you. If you’re 15-minutes into a call and you see the person constantly checking their phone or reading email on the second screen, you’ve lost them.

This is the time to either switch tactics and try to get them re-engaged or wrap up the call and suggest a follow-up in a few days. Remember that clients often aren’t intentionally trying to be rude, but they may be under pressure or distracted by something else going on in their life. Remain flexible and be willing to make adjustments based on their needs. 

Dr. Nick Morgan, the author of “14 tips for holding engaging video calls” offers specific examples and insight on how to keep energy and morale high during video calls in the workplace . Providing the person you’re talking to with an agenda for the meeting will help retain engagement throughout the call. Another helpful way to keep the meeting upbeat and conversational is to hold brainstorming and icebreaker sessions. Use these helpful tactics in your next conference call of 30 minutes or more.

6. Show Your Appreciation

One of the best ways to create a connection with your clients is to show them your appreciation. You can do this by periodically sending small gifts or branded promotional items. This simple gesture shows your clients that you’re there for them and that you value their business. This can lead to longer-term, more fulfilling relationships.

7. Take Notes and Follow Up

In the virtual world, it’s easy to jump from one meeting to the next with little follow-through. There’s a good chance that your client will forget about you and your discussion within a few minutes of hanging up.

You’ll show that you’re engaged and make things easier for your clients by taking detailed notes, sending meeting recaps, and helping to keep everyone involved accountable. Using an abstract and committee management tool to keep all your planning materials in one place will also keep things organized, adding even more value to your client relationship.

8. Offer Total Transparency

When you’re communicating from behind a screen, it’s important to build trust. To do this, adopt the practice of being an open book. If an issue comes up while you’re planning an event, never try to hide it. Instead, be upfront about it. Explain what’s going on while also showing that you’re in control by describing exactly how you plan to solve the problem.

Even when everything is going smoothly, you’ll want to communicate openly. Tell your clients about your personal mission and how it can help them grow their business. Be transparent about your goals and always look for ways to build credibility.  

Elevate Your Client Experience          

Keeping your clients and leads engaged is critical for those who want to compete in this ever changing landscape. To do this, it’s essential to elevate every aspect of the client experience. Having the right tools in place will help you with everything from communication and management to lead development and follow-up.eShow offers an all-in-one event management system to help take your in-person, virtual, and hybrid events to the next level. Our experts will help design a customized solution to meet your needs and show you exactly how to use our system to cultivate and strengthen your client relationships. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a personalized demo.

Hybrid events became popular once Covid-19 entered our lives and, although restrictions are being lifted and in-person events are returning, this event format is expected to stick around. The adage “the more, the merrier” should come to mind when planning your hybrid event and direct you to create an inclusive event. You want everyone to have a positive experience.

You should aim to accommodate attendees with disabilities not only because the ADA requires it but because it’s the right thing to do. For being conscientious, you’ll be rewarded with increased attendance which translates to higher revenue from registration fees. You can also tout your attendance rate when promoting future events (similar to a promoter boasting prior sold-out concerts).

Here are ways to make your hybrid event more accessible for both virtual and in-person attendees.

Attendees with Mobility Challenges

For those who prefer to attend your event in-person, ensure that your venue can accommodate physical limitations. Consider the following:

Is there an elevator or ramp access? When researching venues, some will indicate on their website whether they can accommodate visitors with physical limitations. In addition to an elevator, a parking lot with a cut curb or ramp will give those in wheelchairs or scooters easy access to the building. The building entrance also needs to be wide enough. If it’s not included on the venue’s website, a quick call or email should yield accessibility details.

Is your venue easy to access (for all attendees)?  If your event will take place in a bustling metro location, what’s the best route for attendees to take? Is construction taking place nearby? Provide this information in your registration materials to save attendees time and make it easy for them to reach the venue. If some attendees use wheelchairs and will be arriving by subway or train, provide the link to Google’s Wheelchair Accessible Routes.

Is there nearby parking?  For attendees using wheelchairs, canes, and walkers, available parking needs to be close to the venue entrance.

What’s the seating set-up?  Is there enough space in the seating area to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, canes, walkers, and service animals (this is important, as other attendees may be uncomfortable being near animals)? Having a designated area for those with physical disabilities is ideal to ensure that their needs are met.

Accessible hotel room options:  When reserving a hotel block, include rooms that accommodate persons with physical limitations.

Attendees with Hearing Challenges

For deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees, you’ll need to accommodate both those who attend virtually and in person.

Will you provide an interpreter?  For hearing-impaired attendees, will you employ the services of a sign language expert? Will you provide assistive listening devices? American Sign Language (ASL) includes signs for many words; however, there isn’t a sign for everything. Provide interpreters with written program materials in advance so they can decide how best to express unfamiliar terms to hearing-impaired attendees.

People born with the ability to hear may rely on other forms of communication besides ASL, so captioning video content (for both virtual and in-person attendees) will be helpful.  Insist that speakers and attendees use microphones and always face forward to allow for lip-reading. If you’re planning to have background music, this could be distracting to hearing-impaired attendees trying to hear what speakers are saying.

Attendees with Visual Challenges

For visually impaired attendees, ensure that sufficient lighting and print materials are easy to read (minimum 16pt sans serif font on gloss-free paper). Blind attendees may request handouts printed in Braille or screen-reading software (virtual attendees).

Double-Check Access Before the Event

As earlier communicated, you don’t want attendees showing up to the venue only to find out that an elevator is broken or something else isn’t in place.  A few days before your event, call the venue and make sure everything is good to go. If not, you’ll have time to devise a plan B or let attendees know about any changes. They may then opt to attend digitally (formally virtual).

Let Attendees Know They’re Covered

Make sure attendees know the steps you’re taking to make your event accessible to all. To do this:

  • Include accessibility information in event promotion materials.
  • Ask about the following during registration: (1) dietary restrictions, (2) need for an interpreter, (3) need for accessible parking or seating.
  • Mobility, hearing, and visual impairments are often accommodated at events, but what about those sensitive to event elements like flashing or strobe lights that could cause seizures? Sudden loud noises may affect veterans with PTSD. Ask about these conditions as well during registration.

Ensure Website Accessibility for All

All digital (formally virtual) and in-person attendees to your hybrid event should be able to access event information and registration easily. To create an accessible website

  • Ensure all website text is easy to read. Don’t replace text with graphics.
  • Provide larger buttons and plenty of space between buttons for those with low vision.
  • The website should be accessible via keyboard instead of via mouse.
  • Use descriptive link text.
  • Provide video captions and transcripts.
  • Eliminate CAPTCHA (spam discourager); it’s not easy for attendees with low vision to access.  

Master Your Platform

To ensure that your hybrid event goes off without a hitch, take the time to become well-acquainted with your digital event platform of choice (Zoom, YouTube, etc.) Conduct run-throughs of any technical and audio-visual elements ahead of the event to smooth out any glitches.

Final Thoughts

It will take more thought and work to make your hybrid event more inclusive, but if it makes your special-needs attendees more comfortable, it’ll be worth it.  Always gather feedback after your event to see if you hit the mark. Did attendees feel they were able to participate fully? Use their responses to continually improve on your accessibility efforts.

Consult disability groups and resources such as the ADA for planning guidance and solutions. Use the information gathered with eShow’s interactive Exhibit Sales & Floor Plan Management module to create an accessible floor plan. 

 At eShow, we can help with all aspects of your hybrid event – from planning to execution.  Our interactive online tools put successful and memorable events within your grasp. Contact us today for a no-obligation demo, and we’ll show you how to ensure that all attendees benefit from your event and much more.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 125,900 event planners in the United States in 2020. The event planning industry is expected to grow at around 18% over the next 10 years, a significantly higher rate than the overall average of 8%.

While these numbers are promising for the industry, they also show that competition isn’t going away any time soon. Instead of avoiding or aggressively going after your competitors, consider learning how to network and collaborate with them instead. You may be surprised to learn that doing so can help you strengthen and grow your business.

Benefits of Networking with Competitors

In business and in life, it’s critical to foster good relationships – even with your competitors. Not only is being friendly easier and more pleasant than viewing your competition as the enemy but making these connections can also yield unexpected benefits. Here’s a closer look at three advantages you can enjoy when networking with your competitors.

1. Creating Learning Experiences

If you’re offering a similar service in the same market, there’s sure to be some things you can learn about the way your competitor does business. What draws people to them? And what services do they offer that you don’t?

By going into the conversation with a learning mindset, you may be able to identify areas where you’re lacking or strengths you need to capitalize on. Take the time to truly listen, pay attention to your similarities and differences, and use what you learn to make our business even more potent.

2. Finding Mutually Beneficial Opportunities

Have you ever had to turn down a client because your business was at capacity? Or had a client ask for a service you didn’t offer? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to provide them with an alternative solution? It would also be great if your competitors looked to you when the same things happened to them.

By creating a friendly and respectful relationship with your competitors, you may be able to find ways to lean on each other. Whether you’re sharing resources or referring clients that aren’t quite the right fit, you’re likely to find at least a few ways to collaborate.

3. Strengthening Your Network

The events industry is ever-changing. Employees come and go, experienced professionals enter and leave the industry, and the demand for different services often ebb and flows. If your circumstances suddenly change, you may need to look to the people who know the industry best – those who are already in it.

Create connections with as many industry professionals as possible today, and you’ll be in a better position to adapt if you find that you need to make a change in the future quickly.

How to Collaborate with Competitors – The Right Way

While networking with your competitors can foster growth, it’s essential to do it the right way. The following tips will help you collaborate successfully while still maintaining your edge.

Start with the Right Mindset

When networking, it’s far too familiar for people to seek out opportunities that benefit them without any concern about what they bring to the table. Whether you’re dealing with someone in your industry or other individuals, it’s essential to look for ways to offer support and assistance. Not only will identifying opportunities to assist help to sharpen your skills, but it will increase the likelihood that the other party will eventually find a way to return the favor.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a relationship with a “competitor” isn’t worth your time. Often, initial connections can lead to valuable future relationships, and it’s vital to remain open-minded when meeting people. Even if you can’t see an immediate benefit, you may uncover a profitable opportunity in the future.

That being said, it’s also important not to view relationships as nothing more than a means to an end. It will quickly become evident if you’re only interested in what you can get out of people. Instead, focus on the mantra of “givers gain,” and you will always come out ahead.  

Don’t Over-Share

While you must approach the relationship with a willingness to share some information about your business, it’s important not to overdo it. Even if you become very friendly with your competitor, don’t forget that there are certain things you must keep to yourself.

Feel free to share experiences, but keep information about your employees and clients private. Also, avoid disclosing financial information about your business or details regarding your strategic planning and market positioning initiatives. This type of information will be too tempting for your competitor to ignore, and you can be almost certain they will end up using it to their advantage, even if they don’t intend to do so.

Maintain Your Competitive Edge

While collaboration is terrific, you still need to maintain your competitive edge, which means making sure you continue to be an authoritative, savvy, and creative business executive. If you feel the need to bounce proprietary information off someone who is “in the know,” find an industry-specific coach or mentor who is not a direct competitor to your business.

Continue to stay on top of the latest trends and find ways to incorporate them into your events, so you’re always on the cutting edge. Keep these ideas to yourself until you’ve already earned a reputation for flawlessly executing them.

Forge Strong Connections to Ensure Survivability

The most successful event managers have found ways to forge strong connections with all of the crucial players in their industry – including their competitors. Approach this with confidence and the right mindset, and you’ll help ensure your business is strong enough to survive even the toughest of challenges.

For more guidance to help you navigate the world of event planning, take a look through our webinar series. Our team of experienced industry experts has created in-depth guides for everything from creating successful events to stakeholder preparations. We’re continually updating our offerings, so be sure to check back often.

As an event planner, you must be on the lookout for ways to improve the event experience and ensure that your attendees make the most of their interaction. In the modern era, this means that you need to embrace the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) and understand that there are many ways to use these tools to make your event a success. Certainly, this is an ever-changing landscape as new products emerge, and existing products develop, and you’ll always need to be flexible and ready for the next “big thing.” In the meantime, here are six ways that you can capitalize on AI when planning your next masterpiece.

1. Early Planning

When you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, you need all the help you can get. You may be given a brief by a client but will still need to do a lot of detailed work. You have to locate venues, open discussions with appropriate vendors, and even reach out to people who may be interested in attending your event once it springs to life. In the past, you may have had to do all this manually, trawl through records or reach out to industry sources. Today, you may be able to use AI algorithms to find those perfect matches in a fraction of the time.

2. The Ubiquitous ChatBot

According to Exhibitor Magazine, the global chatbot market is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 24% per year, reaching a value of $1.23 billion in 2025. While this is hardly new technology and, in fact, can be traced back half a century, the chatbot is nevertheless an element of AI that you simply cannot do without.

When you incorporate chatbot software, it can interact with people with a very high level of efficiency and can mimic human conversation remarkably well. You can program your chatbot to handle a wide variety of different questions at the event, and this will take a lot of the pressure off your staff members. Users can “talk” naturally or type questions and expect a considered answer.

Use the chatbot to handle all your frequently asked questions, give access to the event schedule and provide valuable feedback at the end. This will generate real-time insight into how attendees feel, their satisfaction levels and their reaction to your overall support. And the good news is that chatbots are relatively affordable these days – and scalable to any size of event.

3. It’s All in the Presentation

If you’re organizing a multifaceted event where attendees can choose their own agenda and where you may have multiple breakouts or peripheral meetings, AI is your friend. You can create a matchmaking engine powered by AI, which can provide recommendations to each attendee, so they can make the most of their participation.

The AI can analyze each attendee’s profile or behavior to suggest the most appropriate breakout. This will overcome the random nature of large events and make sure that these people are using their time most efficiently. Use the information you may gather during registration or other accessible data (if you have the permission) to make this type of AI work best.

4. There Is an App for That

You can use a variety of other apps on the event to further personalize the experience. If you have attendees from many different countries, remove the language barrier with a translation app powered by AI. Create a separate application to provide collateral so that you do not have to rely on paper handouts or schedules. 

This AI can also generate a survey to gauge satisfaction, and this can be rolled out at the point of delivery or midway through your event. You will get timely feedback and won’t have to wait for attendees to respond manually, as this often leads to lower quality data. eShow Event Management Solutions created a personalized event app that can be used as a mobile hub for all info on your event, connect with all attendees, and provide event support from start to finish!

5. Handling Safety and Security

You need to ensure that your venue is as secure as possible and that attendees are well cared for. Use AI to help confirm each attendee through biometric registration or facial recognition. You’ll be able to scan your guest as they pass from one part of the event to another and avoid close contact with a human being. Of course, in these socially distant days, that can only be a good thing.

Utilizing a pre-existing RF ID method to contact trace and provide safe parameters for your attendees is a great way to increase non-invasive COVID event processes.

6. Help with Forward Planning

You may have a finely tuned “gut feeling” that can tell you whether your event was a success or not, but still, you need measurable data so that you can make the next event more successful. Consequently, you need to use AI to gather that data, examine your event metrics and calculate your bottom line. 

Using the aforementioned apps, you’ll be able to gather a lot of this data during the event itself and before your attendees forget the details. You may even be able to make changes on the fly, but principally, you will get granular and high-quality data that can aid with your future decisions and planning.

With this type of focused data, you will know whether your keynote speakers were a success, whether people could navigate their way through the event and whether they felt that their time was used effectively. Use the information gathered by your AI today to improve the performance of your AI software on future events.

Crafting Your Event Management Solution

Whether you plan something that is in-person, digital or hybrid, you will need a raft of support and specific tools to help manage your event ecosystem. This is why you should turn to an industry-leading event management company like eShow. Here you will find professional tools and web-based solutions that can help you plan any size of event from beginning to end – and all underneath one umbrella. For example, build a registration hub at the outset, create a floor management plan, or handle attendee housing and travel. Make use of the Virtual Event Management platform, an all-inclusive solution that is built on experience.

So, as you put more of your faith in AI, work with a company like eShow to integrate these methods and make your next event a roaring success.

When the effects of the pandemic first became evident, some people were quick to predict the demise of the event industry. People simply wouldn’t want to meet each other face to face anymore in this “new world,” they hypothesized. Every type of meeting or event would now need to become virtual, and the industry would have to adapt accordingly. Of course, this opinion was premature, and the long-term effect short-lived, as the human condition will always require one-on-one interaction. As such, events will undoubtedly survive, but organizers will need to look at their offerings in a new light. They will need to be more creative, and especially when it comes to those venues. What do they need to take into account going forward?

Technology Expands Choice

Connected technology has been around for some time and was a part of the event picture prior to the pandemic. Indeed, PCMA discussed the challenge to the event organizer back in 2018 but went on to talk about how this type of tech could impact venue selection. Today, cheaper and easier to access technology can open up venues that may once have been unable to cope or even impractical.

Moving Away from Predictability

This ties in nicely to a bigger overall trend in the event industry: to move away from the conventional and to “go rogue” when it comes to venue selection. Today, people want far more than just a predictable conference room, so organizers can often inspire attendees by choosing something unique or special based on the demographic or overall aspiration.

Safety First

Further, safety is still on the top of the list for event requirements and is likely to remain so for some time. While the pandemic should slowly fade into the background, the after-effects will linger, and potential attendees will make crucial decisions based on their perception of safety.

Off the Beaten Track

Consequently, why not move away from the traditional, easy to access convention center and look for something more rural. Your attendees may feel more inspired if they are closer to nature and safer when it comes to potential exposure to not just strangers but city center pollution and other factors.

Experiential

Many attendees are looking for a real experience in everything that they do. If your venue has a “wow” factor or can present them with an “Instagrammable” moment, they may be more likely to attend and give you positive feedback at the end. The venue’s draw will attract delegates, and your client may be far more likely to engage if they believe that their customers, suppliers or staff will be happier.

Better Learning Environment

If your event is educational, you may provide a more suitable and creative learning environment, should you go rogue. After all, adults are more likely to retain information if they receive it in a positive external environment. In this case, as they enjoy a positive sensory experience, they are likely to remain engaged and take on board more information. As such, you should find a venue that is as far away from a conventional conference room as possible. By doing so, you can avoid any predictable setup and get off to a better start.

Pros and Cons of the Conventional

It’s much easier to choose a conventional venue and especially when it comes to design, set up and delivery. After all, hotels are fully focused on this area as they earn the majority of their profits from events like this. They have full-time staff members who are only too keen to help an event organizer produce something special, and they will, within the constraints of the space available, do their utmost to please.

Yet, there is only so much that you, as an event organizer, can do with a space that is designed to please as many different tastes as possible. As “easy” as it may be to work within this environment, it’s a lot harder to be inspirational and to generate that much-needed “wow” factor.

Unusual Venues May Have Complications

If you set out to find an unusual venue, you have to take on the added complications. After all, meetings or events may not be their primary focus by the very nature of these venues. Some venues may never have organized an event of any kind, while others may be interested, but you may have to deal with additional issues.

Timing

Consider timing carefully. The venue may not be available around the clock like a typical hotel or convention center. The management team may have to consider business interruption and its effect on their existing clientele or bottom line.

Clarity

It may also be more difficult to get a clear picture of how your event will look when everything is set up, so you can create a successful event. You need to work closely with the venue to see exactly what they can achieve as you envision the end result. Above all else, make sure that you use all the available space effectively with creativity to the fore if you’re going to get the best return on both your objective and investment.

Fewer Restrictions

On the flip side, your unusual venue may come with fewer restrictions. As they may also be working with a clean sheet of paper and have not staged the type of event before, they may well buy into your creative thinking. This is not always the case when it comes to a conventional venue, where there are often strict rules and regulations to adhere to.

Budgetary Help

You may also find that you have more leeway from a budgetary perspective. An up-and-coming destination may not have set aspirations, and venue hire costs may be lower.

Blending Business and Leisure

The new venue may be a destination in itself, as well. You may be able to blend business and leisure by moving away from the corporate feel of that convention center.

Go outside the Box

As the event industry returns to normal, think outside of the box. Give your attendees a reason to commit and make sure that they will have the experience to remember. Sell your alternative venue on the basis of safety, accessibility and inspiration. Your delegates are far more likely to be engaged and help you achieve your ultimate objective.

Shouldering the Work

As you plan, work with partners who can make everything a lot easier. eShow can provide you with an all-in-one event management platform, from registration to session management, from general layout to revenues. When you work with eShow, you will get to worry less about the detail – and have much more time to focus on that unique venue.

As a tike, did you own a book that had (in addition to brightly colored images) little patches of wool-like fabric incorporated into the animal images, images that you could scratch and sniff, and buttons that made squeak or chime sounds when pressed?  If so, the author/publisher of that book was on to something.  They knew that if you used your senses of touch, smell, and sound in addition to your sense of sight, you would enjoy reading that book more than a book with only words and pictures. They offered you a multi-sensory experience. 

Children aren’t the only ones who find multi-sensory experiences more enjoyable. Adults (consumers) also appreciate them, and brands would be wise to keep this in mind when planning marketing campaigns and trade shows. As your clients, these brands will rely on you, the event manager, to ensure attendees have the most pleasurable experience possible. Therefore, the more senses your attendees can engage during your events; the more positive and memorable their experience will be.  Your objective should be to design your events in emotion- and thought-provoking way.  

1.  Benefits of Multi-Sensory Events

Not only do our senses affect mood and influence activity, but it’s a scientific fact that the senses of smell, sight, and sound tend to store memories in the brain when engaged. This means that the likelihood of attendees thinking about your event in the future increases if you incorporate elements that tap into one or more of these senses.  And, of course, you want them to remember your event and your brand message, and that’s the reason you’re holding the event in the first place.

Here’s how you can create a multi-sensory experience and increase engagement at your events:

 2.  How to Host a Multi-Sensory Event

Depending on your budget, there are two ways to create a multi-sensory experience for your event attendees. If you’re working with a limited budget (or don’t want to overstimulate attendees), you can create focal points by adding small elements of sensory interest to your event. If done right, these small moments of delight can make a significant impact. Think stimulating fragrances, stunning table décor, and upbeat music between speakers.

If your budget is less constrained, you may want to immerse your attendees in a multi-sensory experience fully. Attendees will use multiple senses throughout the event, not just at focal points. This approach provides a more significant impact on memory and will engage attendees on a much larger scale. They’re more likely to remember and share details of the event for years to come. If you’re considering this approach, take a page from Essence and Toyota’s playbook.

3.  Essence & Toyota Show How It’s Done

In December 2017, ESSENCE magazine partnered with Toyota to create #SensoryWonderlanda multi-sensory event that celebrated Afrofuturism while simultaneously generating buzz for the new 2018 Toyota Camry. The event brought attention to Toyota’s Sensations campaign, which focused on drivers’ emotions and sensations when driving.

The event offered six spaces that represented buzzwords from the campaign and was designed to stimulate multiple senses: Lust, Hunger, Throb, Boom, Pulse, and Drool. Afrofuturistic imagery from the magazine was placed throughout the event, as well as performers that fit the concept.

In the Lust space, attendees were instructed to feel around the velvet-draped environment with their hands.  The Drool room offered a virtual reality experience from inside the new Camry, and the Pulse room contained a representation of the inside of a car engine that revved at full speed. In each room, there was a placard that described the experience that attendees could expect to have.

Toyota aimed to show that they valued multicultural consumers and, along with Essence (a publication with a predominantly African American readership), created a multi-sensory experience that did just that.

4.  Know Your Audience

In addition to your working budget, your decision to either implement the focal point approach or fully immerse attendees in a multi-sensory experience should depend on their needs and interests. Will they respond to an immersive, multi-sensory approach, or would they prefer something more sedate.  Are you catering to a younger demographic who are used to lively, trendy events?  If yes, they would likely appreciate the fully immersed approach. If your demographic is older and prefers more calm experiences, engage their senses on a smaller scale. Here’s where doing your research and knowing your audience pays off.

Final Thoughts

In the world of corporate events, there’s a growing trend toward full-scale immersive experiences, and audiences have come to expect that.  If you’re not meeting those expectations, you’re likely to receive less than favorable feedback and see a decrease in registrations for future events.

But, creating an event with high production quality can be challenging. Among the most common reasons for event managers to forgo making immersive, multi-sensory events are the lack of budget and time. Although an immersive experience may require a heftier budget, budget constraints shouldn’t stop you from giving your attendees what they’re looking for. 

If you’re working with a smaller budget, take the focal point approach and pepper small points of interest throughout the event. If (after doing your research) you find that your audience would prefer an experience that tantalizes the senses but your budget can’t keep up, consider sponsorship. Companies with interests and a target market similar to yours may welcome the opportunity to help cover the costs of your multi-sensory production in exchange for promotion.

However you decide to engage your audience’s senses, you’ll need a partner to help you deliver a memorable experience.  Make your role as an event manager easier by partnering with eShowWe keep our finger on the pulse of the event industry and offer clients creative and innovative ways to bring their ideas to fruition – all within budget. With our fully comprehensive event platform, we can help you not only delight your audience through multi-sensory events but also manage all aspects of your event, from vendor management to data collection and analysis.

Contact us today for a no-obligation demo.

Thinking outside the box and keeping your audience engaged are two critical keys to any successful event. Now that virtual and hybrid events have become the norm, organizers must work even harder to keep energy high and hold their attendees’ attention.

Integrating games and competitions into events, also called “gamification,” is one of the hottest trends right now. Adding gamification to your event is one of the best ways to increase engagement, heighten brand awareness, and drive attendees to perform desired actions.

What is Gamification? The Basics

Despite its recent rise in popularity, there’s still some confusion about gamification and what it isn’t. It’s important to note that it’s not about turning your event into a big competition or creating something that resembles a fair; instead, event gamification is simply the process of incorporating game mechanics into the overall event experience. 

It works because humans, by nature, like to compete; they also feel a strong sense of satisfaction when rewarded for their efforts. Gamification taps into this psychology to drive desired behaviors in a fun and exciting way. 

Using Gamification to Drive Action

Defining your desired outcome is the first step to successfully incorporating gamification into your events. Whether you’re trying to build your prospect list, upsell to current customers, or increase brand awareness, it’s essential to know how you’ll measure your success.

While gamification can add a significant amount of entertainment to your event, this shouldn’t be the only purpose. Instead, it should always be linked to a specific goal that directly relates to the success of your event. For example, you may aim for a 30% increase in exhibitor interactions or a 25% increase in attendee referrals.

Once you’re clear on your goals, choosing the best gamification format for your event is much easier. For example, if you want to ensure your sponsors and exhibitors get plenty of traffic, you may offer points for each display they visit.

Some other ways to use gamification to drive action include:

  • Awarding points for correctly answering trivia questions during the event
  • Checking off boxes on BINGO cards for completing specific tasks
  • Hiding secret codes at various locations throughout the event space
  • Creating a scavenger hunt and awarding clues for taking particular actions
  • Offering the ability to earn titles and “level up” for completing several tasks
  • Giving points or rewards for inviting others to attend the event

Using a mobile app with gaming capabilities will help you design and launch your gamification plan. While it’s critical to have the right technology in place, simply providing access to an app isn’t enough. You’ll also need to motivate your attendees to participate in the games and make it worth their while. Do it right, and you’ll create loyal brand advocates who will be talking about your event long after it’s over.

Motivating Attendees

Since most people enjoy a bit of friendly competition, providing visual incentives like leaderboards, notifications, and personal scorecards can help keep your attendees motivated.

For in-person meetings, you may also consider giving out color-coded lanyards or badges for reaching certain levels. This will keep your gamification top-of-mind and encourage a competitive spirit.

Make sure your games are challenging enough to give participants a sense of achievement, but not so difficult or complex that attendees get frustrated or lose interest. It’s also essential to monitor your gamification in real-time. Keep an eye on how close participants are to earning awards and how engaged they are. If enthusiasm seems to be waning, make sure to send notifications reminding them how close they are to receiving a reward.

Choosing Rewards and Prizes

If you want people to get excited about your games, you’ll need prizes or rewards they want. While there are many options, ultimately, you’ll want to make sure the rewards you choose surprise and delight your guests.

For multi-day events, you may consider awarding experiences such as a VIP happy hour, a special dinner, a massage at the hotel spa, or an exclusive outing for those who reach certain levels.

Some organizations offer to donate to a charity of the winner’s choice, while others stick to traditional prizes, like a t-shirt and a coffee mug. As you choose the awards for your event, it’s crucial to think about what the prize says about your organization and the lasting impression you want to make.

Benefits of Gamification

Adding gamification to your event is an excellent way to guide your attendees to the actions you want them to take. It also makes them more comfortable, because they’ll know exactly what’s expected of them. In addition, when attendees are fully engaged, they’re more aware of their surroundings, allowing for deeper interaction with presenters and exhibitors.

Properly implemented, gamification converts “attendees” into “participants.” It helps them become fully immersed in the moment, learn new things, and get more out of the event than they otherwise would.

Gamification can create a fun and relaxed atmosphere and ensure a positive and rewarding experience. It can also significantly increase your return on investment by helping you to reach your predefined goals.

Add Gamification to Your Next Event

While the concept of gamification has created a lot of buzz lately, only a small number of organizers are currently using it to its full potential. By using gamification to upgrade your event experience now, you can ensure your events will stand out from the crowd. It will also allow you to increase both participants and sponsor engagement, encourage deeper connections, increase your session attendance, and improve the overall experience.

To learn more about how eShow can help you add gamification to your next event, request a personal demo. We’re happy to show you exactly how our mobile app works and help you choose the perfect line-up of products to ensure your next event is a stellar success.