5 Ideas to Combine Virtual and In-Person Event Sponsorship

Team GTRTeam GTR May 18, 2021

As venues open up and in-person events return, event planners have a decision to make: will you continue to host your event online?

For many, the answer will be yes. According to Event Manager Blog, 71% of event planners will continue to maintain their virtual audience once they return to physical events. Virtual attendees add engagement, are enriched by your programming, and add additional revenue.

With both virtual and in-person experiences to plan, your timeline may start earlier, your team may grow bigger, but what about your sponsorships? Thinking creatively will be the best way to bring in sponsors, especially those who may have sat out the last year of virtual events.

Here are five ideas – or idea starters – to get you on your way toward planning packages that combine virtual and in-person sponsors.

1. Event Scholarships:

Sponsors want connections with your attendees. This helps them with lead generation, but also building brand awareness higher up the acquisition funnel. A great way to make an impact one-on-one with attendees is to offer sponsors the ability to endow an event scholarship.

This scholarship could just pay for attendance, but also more: how about adding an hour interview with someone from the company or organization? Or a 30-day software trial? Get extra inclusive by offering a scholarship package to both an in-person and virtual attendee. Capitalize on the opportunity by asking award winners to write a blog post for your organization, the sponsor, or both. Be creative with the scholarship package and both the sponsor and the scholarship award winner can benefit.

2. Using Video to Level the Playing Field:

Video has always been used at in-person events, but we’re predicting even more innovative ways to use video will give our in-person and remote attendees equivalent experiences: remote speakers will conference in from afar, on-site demos can be live-streamed, follow-up networking can be done via a simple Zoom.

So how can sponsors leverage video? Kick off sessions with a sponsor-created video before in-person speakers and virtual event broadcasts. We’ve seen this in virtual events and find they’re easy to implement, especially when pre-recorded. Sponsors with products can add value by demo-ing new innovations or giving attendees a behind-the-scenes view of their production process. The technology lift doesn’t need to be Herculean: recording from a phone or from a laptop may be all that’s needed for a video like this.

offer a sponsored lounge space for in-person and virtual attendees to connect

In addition, in-person and virtual attendees are going to need time (and space) for side conversations. Offer a sponsored lounge space on-site where attendees can pull out their computer and facilitate quiet one-on-one conversations via Zoom.

3. Sponsored Content:

A benefit of the new hybrid event format is that you have more varied ways of sharing sponsored content than before. Sponsors can moderate conversations on your virtual platform, write a whitepaper based on the theme of your conference, host a panel in your in-person conference, or put a session up on their Youtube page.

And remember when your tradeshow hall was full of demonstrations? These demos can be recorded or live-streamed so that you can share them virtually as well! Pro-tip: thinking of offering live-streaming? Invest in a wifi upgrade at your convention center, you won’t regret it! Or, capitalize on your sponsorship tiers by only allowing sponsors of a certain level to live-stream their demos.

4. Gamification + Prizes:

Who doesn’t love a prize? Sponsors can offer prizes for attendees to add engagement to your event. It could be a random drawing, answers to a trivia question, or a hybrid scavenger hunt – just make sure the playing field is level for both in-person and virtual attendees. Allow one sponsor to give all the prizes, or mix it up for a variety of sponsorship levels corresponding with prize sizes.

check out our full event gamification brainstorm

5. Swag Boxes:

Apply an innovation from virtual events to your hybrid ones! Instead of going home with mounds of swag, send it to participants before the event. Participants can opt to pick from more customized swag boxes based on their interest or even how they’re attending. Think about what might be important to a virtual attendee (a coffee mug for long hours at the computer, or at-home cocktail kit for virtual happy hour) vs. what could be important to an in-person attendee (a tote to carry, coupons for local restaurants, or a branded bottle of hand sanitizer).

This is only the beginning of what you could do with the potential of not one but two ways of holding your events. There are few rules in this new hybrid event world, so be creative and focus on engagement as you design your sponsorship packages. If you need help, get in touch with one of our event planners today!

Regards, Team GTR™ 👋

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