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If you’re planning an event near the holidays, have you considered how you’ll handle the culinary aspect of the event (that is, if you are planning to offer food and drink)?  If you’re not planning to treat attendees to gastronomic delights, there’s something you should know. According to a survey of 2,000 Americans, food is the second most important factor people consider when deciding to attend any type of event — more important than both the quality of the speakers/performers and who else is attending. 62% of the respondents would go to an event just for the food, and 77% say food is important when attending any public event. So, as an event manager, you’d be wise not to make food an afterthought.

Budget Considerations

The way you handle the food aspect of your event will be part of your branding, so when making your menu selections be creative and bold. Don’t be afraid to take risks. You don’t want to simply fill attendees’ bellies or choose the most affordable option.

Of course, the budget should be considered (you can’t serve lobster on a bologna budget), but to make the most of your food budget, aim to make food a part of the overall immersive event experience.

Here are some affordable ways to offer a fun and memorable food experience:

  • Interactivity:  If you’ve visited a bd’s Mongolian Grill restaurant, you know how much fun it is to participate in the preparation of your meal. Offer “create-your-own” stations for salads, sundaes, etc.  Include healthy and vegan options for attendees with dietary restrictions.
  • Buffet style/Food stations:  Plated dinners are often more expensive (servers have to be paid) than budget-friendly options like serving buffet-style or offering specialty food stations. Create interest by having each station centered around a theme or cuisine.
  • Dessert-only:  Don’t feel that you have to offer a full meal. Depending on the time of your event, a spread of desserts and beverages (coffee, tea, sparkling water) will work nicely. A chocolate fountain with yummy things to dip (fruit, cookies, marshmallows) is always a crowd favorite. Or, how about a spread of traditional holiday desserts (Yule log cake, pfeffernusse, gingerbread cookies)

Keep it Safe

With conference-style events, attendees usually don’t eat while the event is in progress. They eat before, after, or during a break in the program. Since everyone is eating at once, crowds will likely form around the food-serving areas. To avoid over congested areas, you want to ensure that your layout allows for splitting the crowd up. Having multiple food stations is a great way to do this.  During the planning process, incorporate spatial planning tools such as eShow’s Exhibit Sales & Floor Plan Management module to simplify all of your floor plan tasks.

Add an extra layer of protection by having all servers wear masks and using signs that direct attendees to wait until the current person is served before approaching serving tables.

Selecting a Caterer

If you’ve settled on an event near the holidays, keep in mind that this is a busy time for caterers, so you’ll need to book as far in advance as possible.  Using your venue’s on-site food service is another option but often more expensive than bringing in your own caterer.

When working with a caterer, the following will help you cover all of your bases to ensure that everything goes smoothly:

Contract:  Make sure you have a detailed, signed contract that includes your menu, costs, a list of expected tasks (i.e., who will be responsible for cleaning up the food serving areas?), the layout of the event space, and the day’s schedule (so the caterer knows when you expect food to be served).

Dietary Restrictions:  Although you won’t know about all of your attendees’ dietary restrictions ahead of the event, ask the caterer to include vegetarian/vegan options within the menu. (On event day, have these options clearly marked).

Vendor Contact List:  If you’ll use multiple vendors to supply your treats, it’s a good idea to create a list of all vendors along with the names and phone numbers of all points of contact. 

Walk-Through:  If food stations are part of your event’s food experience, if feasible, have the caterer visit the venue to get a sense of how everything should be efficiently and safely set up.

Don’t Forget Virtual Attendees

If you’re planning a virtual or hybrid event, all attendees can still be part of the culinary experience, even if they don’t attend in person. If your event’s food offerings are centered around a theme, send food gift baskets with that same theme to the virtual attendees. Or, partner with a food retailer to obtain gift cards/coupons (hopefully at a discount or gratis) in exchange for promotion in your event advertisement.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know that event attendees place food high on the importance scale, you need to ensure that their dining experience is just as enjoyable as other parts of the event. You don’t need a massive budget to accomplish this. Creativity and resourcefulness will go a long way in satisfying attendees’ taste buds in a way that they’ll remember.  

For health and safety precautions, insist that all food servers wear masks. Ensure the comfort of all by devising a plan to safely distance attendees in the dining space. Let eShow’s interactive Exhibit Sales & Floor Plan Management module help you make the most of your venue layout. You’ll see ahead of time how best to set up food stations for efficient and safe serving.

At eShow,  we have everything you need for a successful and memorable event all under one “roof.” From planning to execution, we’re with you every step of the way. Contact us today for a no-obligation demo, and let us show you why we’re the “go-to” supplier for event management.

It’s no secret that in recent years, the increasing number of remote workers has risen exponentially. As we enter this new wave of learning, we are no doubt faced with some unique challenges to navigate along the way. 

Holiday parties serve as a celebration of company milestones, recognition, and the opportunity to create a sense of community within your organization. But how do we share that same feeling of inclusion with our remote employees?

Sending out a quick company-wide zoom link won’t cut it this holiday season. Follow these tips and tricks to make this year’s Worksgiving one of inclusion and remembrance. 

Include Remote Employees in the Party Planning Process

Today’s technology makes it relatively easy for everyone in the workplace to collaborate and share ideas. Brainstorm different themes, activities, prizes, and other interactive ways to create an inclusive environment for both remote and in-office employees. 

Send out a company-wide email to pitch ideas/activities and ask who might want to lead them. This allows everyone to contribute and share their preferences. Remember, not everyone celebrates the same traditional holidays. Make sure to welcome diversity by considering different traditions to create an inviting space for everyone. 

Ask employees what they liked/disliked from previous celebrations. Feedback is always likely to curate a better experience moving forward. Keep in mind the different time zones of remote employees. Try your best to be considerate of scheduling conflicts and work around office hours. 

Connect In-Person and Remote Employees Through a Gift Exchange 

Gift exchanges are a great addition to any holiday celebration and help encourage employee participation across the board. Randomly assign coworkers a person for the exchange. This is a deliberate way of connecting people from outside departments. You might be thinking, I don’t know this person’s likes or interests. How do I shop for someone I don’t know personally? Consider sending out a questionnaire for employees to list 2-3 of their interests. This will lend guidance to everyone who might be struggling in the gift-giving department.

Remember to set a monetary cap that everyone is comfortable with. This will keep things light and enjoyable for all participants. Give plenty of notice and make sure addresses are up to date. Delays in shipping can occur, especially with remote employees across seas. 

Join the excitement of watching everyone open their gifts through a video conference with the whole team. Get to know your recipient better and build a work culture that you’re proud to be a part of.

Encourage Dressing Up

We’ve all heard the saying ‘Look good, feel good.’ Studies have shown the relationship between clothing and mood play a bigger role on the psyche than we might think. Just because this year’s holiday party is taking place in the comfort of your living room doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself through clothing. Themed dress codes are an easy way to boost energy and morale. Consider implementing an ugly sweater contest. This is a sure way to spark discussion, even through the lens of a video call.

Formal or not, wear what makes you feel your best self and who knows, it might even be a conversation starter!

Get creative and share food remotely

What’s a Worksgiving without the company of delectable food and drinks? How do we share this experience with remote employees? 

Just because you don’t have the luxury of sitting side by side at a dining table doesn’t mean it’s impossible to incorporate something palate-pleasing to enjoy with others. Consider adopting a recipe from a fellow colleague to share. Maybe someone will introduce a tasty pumpkin pie recipe. Try your hand in baking and host a breakout session where participants can enjoy their pie in the company of others.

Create Employee Spotlights

Employee recognition is a huge part of a healthy work environment. Company celebrations are a great way to highlight growth and commemorate accomplishments. I think we’ve all sat through a PowerPoint presentation that has nearly put us to sleep a time or two. Don’t let that be the case this holiday season. Remote workers are relying on engaging content to keep their attention. 

Many of us remember the ‘Most Likely to’ awards in high school that promoted individualism and boosted some egos. Consider implementing something similar, while recognizing important milestones along the way. This keeps the ambience upbeat and showcases personalities in an entertaining manner. Keep the content appropriate and focus on positive character traits. Consider highlighting one or two people from each department. This will lessen the chances of repeatedly recognizing the same people and help foster a more inclusive environment.

Build Community and Culture 

Wrap up this year’s worksgiving with a sense of community and belonging. At eShow, we’re here to make your next holiday celebration one to remember. We offer a full suite of options for live, virtual, and hybrid events. Our team of experts will help you curate the perfect package for your needs. Contact us today to request a demo and learn more about how we can help take your event planning to a whole new level.

As an event planner, you know just how vital sponsorships can be. The right sponsor can provide you with the financial backing you need to “wow” your attendees while also lending credibility to your event. While this is certainly nothing new, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted sponsor relationships. 

In the past, event sponsors have readily paid large sums of money to advertise their brands at in-person events. Now that many events are held in a hybrid or virtual-only format, event managers must find creative ways to nurture sponsor relationships and provide them with the exposure they need to meet their objectives. Not sure where to start? Take a look at these seven strategies. 

1. Website and App Branding

When hosting virtual or hybrid events, you’ll want to give your sponsor plenty of opportunities to get their brand in front of attendees. The good news is, most sponsors understand the value of digital advertising.

As you plan your event, consider adding branded splash pages to the event website and pop-up ads or banners during your live streams. You should also add each of your sponsor’s logos on your event’s mobile app. You can also link the sponsor’s logo to their website or social media page, driving even more traffic to their desired location. 

To add even more value, consider allowing your sponsors to add gated materials to your event website. Not only can this position them as a thought leader, but since attendees will need to enter their email address to access the material, it will also provide your sponsor with valuable leads. 

2. Inclusion In All Communications

When promoting your event, communication is key. You’ll want to reach out to your attendees via email, text message, or even postal mail. You may also frequently post about the event on your social media platforms and private groups.

Whenever possible, be sure to include your sponsor’s name and logo. This ensures they’re getting maximum exposure in the weeks and months leading up to the event.  

3. Branded Breakout Sessions

If you have a top-notch virtual event management platform, you can easily include breakout sessions between speakers. This is a great way to improve attendee engagement, and it also gives you another opportunity to promote your sponsor.

Consider including sponsored entertainment, free downloads, special offers, and other exclusive perks that attendees can only get by attending these sessions.

4. Sponsored Speaking Opportunities

For many sponsors, the opportunity to speak directly with attendees is an incredibly valuable proposition. This gives them the chance to come face-to-face (virtually) with your audience, so that they can introduce their company and the products or services they want to promote in their desired way.

Providing a speaking opportunity is also a great way to drive revenue. Direct contact with the audience is a selling point that will significantly boost the value of your highest sponsorship levels.

One word of warning, though. If you’re going to offer a speaking opportunity, you need to be confident that the sponsor will bring a skilled speaker. Otherwise, it may be better to show sponsored videos and intros before each presentation instead. If the sponsor doesn’t want to speak, they could also host a panel or be a panelist instead.  

5. Branded Giveaways

Everyone loves free stuff, so offering branded giveaways is a win-win. If cost is an issue, consider offering branded digital swag bags. This could include free online courses, free trials for digital products or services, amazon gift cards, or other digital giveaways.

You could also surprise attendees with home delivery of physical swag bags or other branded items. For example, a bottle of wine or nonperishable snacks with branded labels would be perfect for a virtual happy hour.

6. Sponsored Games

Gamification is an increasingly popular way to improve attendee engagement. It’s also a great way to connect your sponsors with your audience. There are many ways to incorporate sponsor branding into games. This can be as simple as adding their logo to the game platform or offering prizes from the sponsor.

7. Virtual Store

Depending on the nature of your event, you may consider adding a virtual store. It is a unique approach that would allow your sponsors to showcase and sell their products easily. You could also offer souvenir-type products related to your event. Attendees may enjoy the opportunity to get their hands on exclusive items, and both you and your sponsors will have an opportunity to make instant profits.

Building Long-Term Sponsor Relationships with Your Sponsors

While the strategies above will help you offer value to your sponsors, that’s only part of the equation. You’ll also need to make sure you maintain your relationships with your sponsors. Start by making sure you reach out to them periodically throughout the year – not just when you need something from them. 

Please keep them in the loop about any significant changes or updates within the hosting organization. It’s also a great idea to occasionally check-in to ensure they’re still getting what they need out of the relationship and ask for suggestions or feedback.

Nurturing relationships with your sponsors is an ongoing process that requires a bit of effort. However, the payoff is huge! Once you’ve established a strong relationship with your sponsors and have shown that you can offer actual value in all event formats, you’ll find that it’s much easier to bring them back for future events.

Create Sponsorship-Worthy Events 

Sponsorships should be a mutually beneficial solution. To keep your event sponsors happy, you’ll need to make sure they feel that they’ve received sufficient value for their money. Not only does this require you to provide them with plenty of brand exposure, but you’ll also need to ensure you create a well-organized and value-driven event that your sponsors will be proud to be a part of.eShow provides all the tools you need to plan and execute top-notch events. From increasing event engagement to managing all of your event logistics and following up with leads, we can support you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn about your options and schedule a customized demo.

From expos and product launches to user conferences and VIP dinners, B2B events can play a significant role in a company’s marketing strategy. Done right, these events can drive sales and boost your clients’ bottom line.

While return on investment (ROI) is essential for all events in the B2B marketplace, not only do you want your event to stay top-of-mind long after it’s over, but you’ll also need to show that it was fully aligned with your client’s objectives. The following marketing and lead generation strategies will help make your event a success so you can easily deliver the ROI your clients are looking for.

1. Optimize Your Pre-Event Strategy

Great events with a killer ROI don’t just happen. They’re the result of thoughtful, thorough planning and execution. Before you begin planning your event, make sure you’re crystal clear about precisely what the client is trying to achieve. Then, consider how you’ll leverage each aspect of the event to maximize ROI and meet other stated objectives.

You’ll want to incorporate social media and email promotion early in the planning stage. Consider working with other complementary organizations to promote the event. Also, send a press kit to each presenter so they can promote the event in their circles. 

Use event hashtags as early as possible. This will allow attendees and other interested parties to follow them and see relevant posts from the event host, sponsors, and speakers. This is an excellent way to encourage engagement and build excitement well before the event begins.

2. Incorporate Immersive “Live” Product Displays

Live product presentations are nothing new. After all, who could forget seeing Steve Jobs unveil the first iPhone live on stage? While they’re popular in the B2C world, they shouldn’t be overlooked when planning B2B events. In fact, since  B2B customers tend to put much more thought into product purchases, this can be a key driver of event ROI.

As events move to the virtual and hybrid world, you’ll need to get creative. For virtual events, plan to leverage the power of live video. You can also play shorter demo videos at optimal times throughout the event. Remember that these videos should not be a pitch. Instead, it’s all about showing the audience what it’s like to use the product and allowing them to visualize how they’ll benefit from it. 

For hybrid events, you may also incorporate virtual reality demonstrations. This will give in-person attendees an up-close, interactive encounter while also adding the “Wow” factor that comes with the virtual reality experience.

3. Enhance Your Virtual Event Platform

A top-notch virtual event management platform will include features designed to help maximize engagement and boost your event’s ROI. This may consist of interactive pages, exhibitor webcasts, video chats, and other features that allow businesses to create meaningful connections with attendees.

Your platform can also help the event host learn more about their customer. They can do this directly by using features like attendee polls or indirectly by analyzing behaviors through RFID tracking or leveraging reporting features within the platform’s software.

4. Leverage Your Event App for Consistent Engagement

A mobile event app is one of the best ways to keep event attendees engaged and informed. The capabilities can allow attendees to learn more about speakers, take notes during presentations, view interactive floor plans, and more.

When attendees can plan ahead to optimize their experience, they’ll get more out of the event. This will make conversions much easier. 

5. Focus on One-to-One Meetings

While group sessions will give your host or sponsors maximum exposure, one-to-one meetings are where deals get closed. The ultimate goal of every product or solution provider at an event is to actually talk to the attendees – even if only for a few minutes.

To ensure maximum ROI, you’ll want to create opportunities for one-to-one sessions. Using a networking and appointment management solution will help you match attendees with exhibitors or sponsors based on their industry or interests. When an attendee finds something they’re interested in, they can request a one-to-one meeting right from your event platform. This will improve the attendee experience while also creating real opportunities for businesses to profit from the event. 

6. Assist with Follow-Up After the Event

As you collect attendee data, it’s important to think about what you’ll do with it after the event is done. To maximize ROI, it’s important to give hosts and sponsors a way to connect with attendees beyond the few days surrounding the event. This may include lead generation strategies such as adding gated content to your event website. 

As an event planner, the bulk of the hard work is over after the event ends. However, there’s still a lot more to do for hosts, vendors, and sponsors. They’ll need to follow up with all the leads they collected. They may also want to share materials with attendees or send out a survey about the event along with an offer to schedule a follow-up meeting.

You can help with this by ensuring your platform collects all the necessary data and allows you to provide it to them in a format that’s easy to use. It’s best to reach out to leads within a day or two after the event is done, so it’s critical to provide this information as quickly as possible. 

Cutting Edge Tools Designed to Drive ROI

Companies spend a lot of money on B2B events, and they want to make sure they get a sufficient return on their investment. Taking the steps above will put you in a position to support their objectives while also setting you apart from the competition. Having the right tools in place makes everything easier. eShow offers you the ability to pick and choose the tools you need to create show-stopping events that deliver maximum ROI. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a free demonstration.

In the business world, as sterile as it may be from time to time, relationships matter. According to the well-worn phrase, people do business with people they know, like, and trust, but it’s even more relevant in an age where this business is often conducted at arm’s length. In other words, it takes a lot more than a simple signature on a contract, and this is especially true in the events industry. If you’re an event organizer and hoping to attract new customers and sponsors to help you with your efforts, why do you need to go the extra mile to nurture those relationships carefully? What golden rules should you remember if you want your organization to thrive?

Go With What You Have

You don’t need an economist to tell you that it’s cheaper to cultivate an existing customer than to go out and find a new one. Yet, that is how many event organizers operate as they may treat their existing clients as simply a means to an end. Alternatively, they may take steps to groom a new prospect but fail to follow through and bridge that gap between a would-be contract and a relationship.

Bring Them Into The Conversation

If you have already worked with an organization and have produced an event for them with some success, you need to make them feel like they matter. Indeed, you may have signed off on the event, and the relationship may be treading water now, so what can you do to bring them back into the conversation? Introduce them to your social media world and invite them to talk openly about their experience. Don’t be afraid of what they may say if you truly stand by your product and understand that some negativities may arise from time to time. Overall, however, this will be a positive experience for not only you and the customer but also your prospects. They will see that you are transparent and that you can be trusted at the same time.

Go Beyond a Questionnaire

Many event planners send out a questionnaire to clients and participants following an event. Often this can be generic, and they may not act on the gathered intelligence in any case. Try to formalize this approach. Request a one-to-one meeting, even if this must be through a videoconference. As you gather the information, it’ll give some positive feedback to the customer as well. Take the honest criticism and be very grateful for the feedback. Again, this will show that you care and will make the customer feel better about the interaction.

They Are Only Human

Remember that quote above? People like to do business with people that they know, like, and trust? It’s far too easy to think that a customer is a corporate entity, but it is, of course, populated by human beings. They may have the company’s well-being at heart, but they still have feelings, individual needs, and problems. You need to balance this carefully but be prepared to reach past the corporate conversation and see if you can get to know the key people at that organization. Likewise, open if they actively join the conversation and come across as a caring and contributory individual. Suddenly, your event planning company is more than just an organization but is staffed by people who are likable – and care about others.

Turn to Sponsors

You can use the same approach when it comes to building a meaningful relationship with any event sponsors. Again, you are dealing with companies with goals to consider, but this is a different type of spend altogether. An event client may want to stage such an event to educate or reward employees, wine and dine their own clients, or for many other reasons. On the other hand, you may be looking for a sponsor to help you make an event financially viable, and they will have different criteria to consider.

Nevertheless, you will need to nurture any relationship with a potential sponsor and make even more effort once they are confirmed.

Be Proactive

This is why you need to be proactive whenever you open the door with a sponsor. If you’ve got past the gatekeeper and are talking to the decisionmaker, now is the time to pounce. You may have started the process by sending out written or digitized material, but you should now request a face-to-face meeting. It’s always best to do this in person and even in these socially distanced and strange times. Tools like Zoom are all well and good, but nothing can replace in-person interaction. This is equally true when it comes to a potential sponsor meeting as it is for the actual events themselves. As reported in Tradeshow Executive, the pandemic has confirmed the value of face-to-face events. The site reports that 78% of people polled by UFI (the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) felt that face-to-face events would soon bounce back strongly.

Show the Benefits

So, during your meeting, go through every detail clearly and show how the sponsoring company will benefit from any interaction. You will share the schedule, demographic, and expected turnout and show them how you intend to promote their involvement. At this stage, you should have some surprises in your pocket, and you should deliver a little more than they may expect without giving everything away to secure an agreement. Here, you’ll convince them that they are getting more than they are giving – as you are being seen to over-deliver. But keep some of those surprises in your pocket so that you can over-deliver even more on the actual event itself. This should be the “icing on the cake” delivery to convince them that they have done the right thing. You can then use this warm glow to start building forward and to make sure that you have a sponsor on board for the long term.

Be Smart

You need to use your imagination when it comes to those surprises. Look at the event, its deliverables, and the opportunities and see how you could extend the sponsor involvement. For example, you may let them introduce their product or service during a critical part of your event and in front of an engaged audience. This may be over and above what you had previously agreed. Or you may engage with a topic that is very close to their corporate heart if they are philosophic. Announce on stage in front of your audience that you are donating to this charity. Invite your attendees to do the same and make it easy to do so by sending an SMS message to their smart device. This will not only make you look good in front of your attendees, but it will undoubtedly make your sponsor happy. After all, it makes them look good in the eyes of the charity for no extra cost.

Get Personal Again

Once again, try to foster a more personal relationship with the key people who work at the sponsor’s company. You don’t need to go overboard here and should certainly not be intrusive. Test the waters gently in an off-the-cuff conversation and see how they respond. Be willing to open up in response to their questions too, and don’t be surprised at how much of a difference this can make. By all means, focus on business first, but become that person others can know, like, and trust.

Worth the Effort

Somebody in charge of sponsorship arrangements at a large company will often field dozens of requests in any given month. They may meet with several representatives before they make a decision, and most if not all of those other companies will be “all business.” If you can add a human touch to your approach, then you’re more likely to be regarded favorably, and this theme will continue even after you have secured the first deal. Continue to develop the relationship, and you may even bridge the gap between acquaintance and friend.

Keep the Momentum

Don’t let the dust settle for too long once you have agreed on terms with the sponsor and have staged a successful event. At a reasonable interval, reach back out to the sponsor and look for their feedback. Send them a thank you gift and, if possible, send some new business in their direction. Ask your customers to patronize the sponsoring company and give them some incentive if they do so. Perhaps you can offer them a discount on your services or products if they prove that they have patronized the sponsor along the way.

Take the Heat off

As you can see, there are several ways to foster relationships with prospects, customers, or sponsors. Explore them all and come up with your own methods along the way. In the meantime, make your job as an event organizer a lot easier by working with companies that fully understand your industry. eShow is just such an organization specializing in providing comprehensive event management solutions and can do a lot of the heavy lifting. Check out some of their programs and services here. This may help to free up some of your valuable time – so you can strengthen those relationships even more.

Event planners are hardy individuals, always ready to roll their sleeves up and turn out miracles. While they may not be afraid to put in the hours necessary to plan a successful event, they won’t turn their nose up at the opportunity to streamline either. And this is where new technology comes to the fore and why artificial intelligence will continue to make the event planner’s job that much easier. So, how can A.I. simplify your life as a planner and thoroughly enhance the attendee experience?

1. Networking

Let’s face it, many of your event attendees will take their time to blend in, might be introverted, or simply slow to join the conversation. Yet, in an ideal world, you’d love to see each attendee get maximum value out of their day and find people with shared interests right away. A.I. can help with networking, and specific tools can help to strategically match any attendees without a lot of personal effort on your behalf. In this way, those attendees can discuss common challenges or explore opportunities and are likely to have a much more productive event as a consequence.

2. Analytics and Planning

In the past, it may have been true to say that the more information you gather, the stronger you will be from a planning perspective. However, it is now more accurate to say that the more targeted you are with that information and the more powerful your analysis, the better event you can stage in the future. Artificial Intelligence in this situation can help you to create personalized, niche events and reach out to your ideal participant. Rather than shooting in the dark, you’ll know that you are adding features to your event that will be attractive and that will meet approval from your attendees.

In addition, this A.I. will enable you to plan your meeting space, set out a conference hall without any guesswork, handle the sound, lighting, and other factors to give your attendees an optimal experience. The software will also tap into a resource database and find the perfect contractor for individual tasks without guesswork or hassle. It’ll eliminate the need for that trusty Rolodex or its digital equivalent, and this will make decision-making much faster. It will also help you to match your vendors perfectly.

3. Translation and Visitor Experience

Those planners who organize international events know how hard it can be to cut across the language barrier and ensure that all attendees are happy. If not successful, this can lead to frustration or a bad reputation, and faced with this prospect; many planners bring in “human” translators at a high cost. Thankfully, it is now possible to use A.I. tools that function efficiently and can always be on hand to act as a personal translator.

4. Security

Security and safety have never been more critical. After all, bad actors may continue to threaten any gatherings, especially larger events. Event organizers are also expected to look out for their attendees and ensure they are well catered to and for throughout.

In the past, security has been a big headache, especially at more significant events. However, it’s more important than ever to ensure that those who enter the venue and mingle with your attendees are supposed to be there, and this is where facial recognition software can be worth its weight in gold. This type of software is becoming more prevalent, and PCMA has also had a close look at the potential of facial recognition software.

Furthermore, tracking software can passively track individuals as they move from one stage of the event to another and can tell you if anybody is missing. The organizer can then initiate checks, such as sending a message to their bedroom to see if they are okay.

5. Feedback and On Event Efficiency

Not so long ago, chatbots were relatively simple and, depending on your viewpoint, quite annoying. Today, however, they are far more intelligent, able to ask complex questions, decipher the answers and gather a lot of valuable data as they do. They are also a lot more user-friendly, less intrusive, and easy to work with, so attendees do not mind giving feedback through these devices. Consequently, planners can use chatbots to gather real-time feedback through polls and surveys. They can find out what works and what doesn’t and, sometimes, make adjustments on the fly. Chatbots can also take the heat away from your customer service team when accurately programmed and set up. They will register guests for functions, reserve seats, sell tickets or let the CSM know if somebody prefers the tiramisu to the fruit cocktail.

6. Marketing and Future Planning

As planners get their hands on more granular data provided by A.I., they can use this information to manipulate their client list. They can identify commonalities or trends, dig into demographics and create marketing programs that should hit the mark every time. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to create perfectly formed ads that speak directly to the defined avatar and then be able to split the messaging capability if need be. You can use this information effectively through conventional marketing methods, one being social media. It’ll also help you promote your events more effectively and get them off to a flying start.

Powerful Partners

There’s no need for you to go it alone these days as you can take advantage of influential partners, companies that have already invested in A.I., as well as other event management tools and solutions. These partners can help make an in-person, fully digital, or hybrid event a success by rolling out various tools and web-based solutions. Companies like eShow can help you with RFID attendee tracking, for example. They also have tools like Meeting Logistics Manager that can orchestrate all the details and ensure that each function is well planned, staged, and received.

Reach out for More Information

Get in touch with the visionaries at eShow today. They’ll help you gain a unique advantage and bring a number of A.I. driven revelations to your next successful event.

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!

Most industries, truth be told, have been revolutionized by the changeover from analog to digital. Vinyl records gave way to CDs as just one part of a never-ending transition from old school to new. Yet, it’s taken some time for the event industry to go through its own revolution brought on, in part, by the recent pandemic. Today, event managers need to embrace digital as part of a hybrid approach to their craft, and they need to have a complete understanding of what is available and how they can use it to the best effect. So, if you’re getting ready for 2022 and want to hit the ground running, what do you need to know about the hybrid event approach, and what are some examples of “cool” tech?

Down to Basics

You don’t have to be a tech geek to see how these new advances can benefit your events. After all, these solutions are designed to capture and keep your audience’s attention, specifically those that are far away and behind a computer screen.

Strategic use of the latest event technology can make a huge difference and ensure that your remote attendees are equally as engaged as your live people. Don’t forget that active engagement is the most basic yet most important factor when judging overall success.

New technology can also extend the impact of an event and bring people into the conversation well in advance of the actual date. You will be able to communicate with your attendees by delivering relevant and often personalized content that will make them feel part of the picture as the event approaches.

Smart Personalization

You can also deploy smart apps that direct attendees to a session of particular interest to them, based on their physical location on site. GPS positioning can help to target them when they are at their most responsive. Smart apps can also “ping” remote attendees to remind them of a specific breakout session when their thoughts may well have turned away from the broader event.

Three Ideas To Chew On

Beam Them In

Surely, if a hybrid event is to be as successful as possible, you need to blur the line between in-person and virtual. What if you could transport your virtual attendees to your live destination so that they can interact with the people in your room?

While not yet in the realm of Star Trek, you can now get technology that will display a picture or live video of one of your attendees on a tablet attached to a movable robot. These robots can glide around your live venue, and attendees will be invited to talk to the remote visitor using the built-in audio equipment. The digital participant can control the robot remotely and can experience the event through another dimension. As a manager, you could share some screen time with several participants during the event. You can also focus on breakouts, “sending” one of your remote attendees into this room to host the session or otherwise contribute.

Spread the Goodness

Or why not invest in technology that allows you to connect multiple live events to a central hub? In this case, the hub can be considered the main event where most live attendees gather and should be in a city close to your core attendee base – or is easy to get to. The other cities could be in other parts of the country or even overseas and digitally connected to the central hub. In this case, attendees at the secondary events can still experience the buzz of live interaction without the additional hassle and cost of long-distance travel. This may be particularly attractive to people in the post-pandemic era.

You could take this one step further and incorporate purely digital attendance as well, where people can still log into the event from their homes. Obviously, this approach does ramp up the complexity, and you will need high-quality virtual event technology to make this all work seamlessly, with top-rated AV staff on hand.

Shine the Spotlight

At some events, keynote presenters may want to work remotely, but you will still want their impact to be as powerful as possible. Sound and light are critical, of course, and their background setting must be appropriate. In this case, you can use the latest technology to help on the lighting front by getting your keynote speaker to use a professional, compact but powerful lighting tool.

These simple illuminated bars use the same color temperature favored by movie lighting experts. They simply sit on the desk and will cast the presenter in the perfect light. Your attendees will be able to see their facial expressions clearly and feel as if they are in the same room.

Mastery Required

Such technical innovations are no longer optional or “nice to have.” They are an essential way to help keep your audience engaged and ensure that networking can be productive, whether remote or on-site. Event managers who embrace this technology and fully understand how to make it work will undoubtedly have a leg up on the competition. They will hit the ground running in 2022 and leave the bad memories from the past couple of years in the rearview mirror.

Certification

With mastery in mind, PCMA has launched the Digital Event Strategist certification. This course is designed to make you a globally recognized expert at connecting people to brands, opportunities, and ideas through business events in the digital world. It’ll help you to grow your audience engagement and operationalize your hybrid event production work.

Platform Approach

Also, don’t forget to work with companies that can help you carry the burden when you organize your next hybrid event. eShow has a revolutionary platform called Virtual Event Management. It aims to create a full event experience, whether in person, digital, or hybrid, and covers every step from registration to post-event analysis.

Time to Embrace

For your multifaceted event to be successful, you will need to understand and embrace the latest in digital event technology. However, if you do, you’ll be sure to have the edge over managers who believe that analog is still “in.”

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!