Working with Exhibitors and Sponsors at Your Virtual Event

Sponsors and exhibitors bring excitement and interactivity to your event. Learn how to build strong relationships and find creative ways to engage your exhibitor and sponsor partners.

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Setting Expectations

In times when it may be necessary to quickly pivot to a virtual format, how can you build positive relationships with your partners and mitigate risk? Setting clear expectations and effectively communicating with your partners can ensure that everyone is on the same page about the path forward.

Here are some ways that you can prepare your partners for the possibility of a change to your in-person event format.

  • For each of your in-person sponsorship tiers and exhibitor packages, establish a parallel virtual offering
  • Clearly communicate that if your event goes virtual or hybrid, purchases will automatically convert to these parallel options
  • Set clear expectations about the ratio and what the refund will or will not be
  • Offering refunds for partners such as in-kind speakers, sponsors, and non-sales contributors is not recommended. Communicate this decision to these partners upfront.

What to Communicate

Here is a sample dialogue that you can adapt for use with your exhibitors and sponsors:

“When purchasing the Silver Level sponsorship, should the event need to be held virtually partially or in its entirety, due to the lingering impact of the pandemic – your sponsorship will convert to the Silver Level Virtual sponsorship and you will be refunded X%.”

Planning an event during a pandemic is not simple, and there are many variables to consider. With a solid plan in place and open dialogues with your partners, it’s possible to be ready for almost anything that might come your way.

Creative Exhibitor and Sponsor Engagement Ideas

There are a number of ways that you can creatively engage your exhibitors and sponsors. Have fun and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!

  • Add sponsor and exhibitor branding to your virtual event platform, on your event website, in email marketing, and on social media (banners, sessions brought to you by, etc.)
  • Offer sponsors and exhibitors guest blog opportunities prior to your event
  • Enable sponsored networking opportunities, social activities, and special events
  • Provide a dedicated track for exhibitor and sponsor presentations
  • Gamify your exhibit hall and tie participation to prize raffles for attendees
  • Enable exhibitors and sponsors to place ads on your virtual event platform
  • Feature product and service deals from sponsors for your attendees
  • Showcase products and services from your partners on your platform and let attendees create a “wish list” that they can purchase

We Are Here to Help

If you have questions about working with virtual exhibitors and sponsors, please contact the MCE team.