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Innovating with Sponsorships 

The demand for high-value sponsorship opportunities has never been so great. Many marketers are looking for more than promotion – they want event sponsorship ideas that deliver real ROI. That return is measured on the quality and quantity of engagements they have with qualified attendees both inside and outside of the their booth property.

While many sponsors are satisfied with awareness-generating (passive) tactics, organizers need to be armed with creative sponsorships that generate engagement for those sponsors looking for something more.

According to CEIR, about 85% of a trade show’s revenue comes from booth sales with the other 15% coming from sponsorship and advertising. That spells opportunity for those organizers who shift their thinking from selling sponsorships to selling engagements, An enhanced set of engagement-based options can do wonders for generating new revenue.

The following lists will provide you with some starter ideas for engagement-based sponsorship opportunities along with some fresh “passive” ideas.

Wireless Sessions

Wireless Sessions

Placing multiple demonstration and learning sessions on a show floor is a terrific way to drive traffic and buzz. A major challenge is controlling noise levels so those session participants can actually hear the presenters. Thanks to portable, wireless audio transmitters and receivers, you can have several simultaneous sessions running without adding any additional noise to the trade show floor.

And, because the miniature receivers (with headphones) are capable of listening to multiple channels, participants can dial-in to the session of their choice. These units are brand-able, so it’s also a valuable sponsorship opportunity. (SOURCE:

Outside-the-box branding – “Let’s brand the water!”

Just because a branding opportunity hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. At a recent event, one of our customers asked if we could brand the water. That’s right, they wanted the water branded. We put on our thinking hats, did our research and applied customized branding to the water utilizing floating materials. Charge yourself with looking at each space like a blank canvas, brainstorm a wishlist of what you’d like to see, and back your way into it with your vendors. It NEVER hurts to ask!

How Would You Change the World? (Blackboard)

Invite people to help spread optimism and ideas for improving the world/industry. Check out Strayer University’s take on the idea. Your sponsor can facilitate the activity and use the time to engage folks in conversation about their ideas.

Interactive floor and wall digital displays & provide gesture-based, interactive systems that can promote sponsors in fun and engaging ways. Imagine you create a tunnel entrance into your event and the walls react to each attendee as they walk by.

Skills Competition

Most every industry requires some special skills. Set-up an area where attendees can try their hand at a particular skill. Keep a leader board and provide prizes to winners. For those who have already activated these kinds of areas, challenge yourself to innovate the program to increase engagement and make them more appealing to sponsors.


Airport & Venue Shuttles are a great way to provide real value to attendee and a good time to engage in conversations. Recently, we saw an event develop their own uber-like fleet for a more personalized transportation experience. Another option would be to research the bells and whistles the actual vehicle may offer and how that can be used to promote brand awareness.

Health & Wellness Area

We’ve engaged with several customers on ways to create exercise programs, including a recent popularity in yoga and zen rooms, and have found they are a great way to deliver messaging while providing some real value. PCMA released a great article related to mindfulness at conferences.

Welcome to the Event Ambassador Team

Your sponsor can provide team members to welcome people to the event as well as offer information and tours. There’s real value in being the first face one sees at an event and creating a great first impression. Brainstorm ways to carry the program through the whole event and make a resonating experience. This is especially useful for smaller, more intimate events, but can also be used for larger events and VIP programs.

The Elevator Pitch

Elevator Attendant who actually delivers a brief, clever, elevator pitch. Imagine, you step into the elevator at the event’s headquartered hotel and there’s an elevator attendant prepared with 15 seconds of information. Not only will it get their message out to tons of attendees, but it’s a great icebreaker for networking events through the event— “Hey! You’re the elevator guy!”

First Timers Programs

This scalable idea can consist of several different components that provide value to first-time attendees: Special welcome bag, concierge service, first-timers meal, venue tours, information packet, and reception.

Hot Topic Conversations

Provide small meeting areas on the floor that host specific “hot topics” throughout the day. Sponsors provide table hosts who help facilitate conversation. An extra value for the sponsor is the ability to “listen” in on what’s on the minds of the attendees and the ability to follow-up after the event.

Ask the Experts Area

One of the most highly valued engagements for attendees is the ability to have small-group, intimate conversations with known industry experts. Whether it be a small area designated on the show floor, or a complete reception, attendees are sure to flock to the opportunity.

New Product Showcase

One of the most highly valued engagements for attendees is the ability to have small-group, intimate conversations with known industry experts. Whether it be a small area designated on the show floor, or a complete reception, attendees are sure to flock to the opportunity.

While-You-Wait Customized Merchandise

Live Sublimation (provided by Family Industries) uses the latest technology to allow guests the chance to create 100% custom artwork on the spot at any event. The types of items sublimation printing allows are endless (t-shirts, custom socks, mouse pads, make-up bags, mini basketball hoops, mugs, or even flip-flops).

Head Shot Studio

Who can’t use a fresh head-shot? Set up a small studio and let your sponsor grab a few quality moments with the attendees and the ability to promote themselves when they send the photo to the attendee via email. For an extra touch, add a few stylists for hair and make-up.

Walk-This-Way Pedometer Contest

Challenge attendees to wear a sponsor-provided pedometer which tracks their walking distance while at the show. Turn this into a contest complete with leader board and prizes.

Philanthropic Project

Encourage attendees to give 30 minutes of their time to participate in an activity that helps to give back to the host city. Our teams have worked with the No Kid Hungry Program to pack meals for local children in need and local facilities have sponsored the event raising awareness for a good cause, our services, and the facility. Everyone wins!

Recharge & Refresh Stations

Charging stations have been quite successful, but why not kick it up a notch with an area that also provides refreshment while you wait for your device to recharge? We also recommend getting innovative with the space like seen at Amsterdam airport. Or what about a hydration therapy station?

Promotional Sponsorships

Take a look at each environment you are in or create and assign an inventory of what branding can be applied to. Think outside the box like IBM did with their Smart City campaign and create interesting, eye- catching opportunities.

Other promotional ideas:

  • Elevator Door Wraps
  • Branded Beverage Coozies
  • Branded Coffee Insulators (ala Starbucks)
  • Shuttle Bus Seat Wraps
  • Charging Stations
  • Table-Top Signage
  • Indoor/Outdoor Bench Graphics (use clever messaging)
  • Carpet Clings
  • Hand Sanitizer Station