4 Ways to Make Money at Your Next Convention

Earning extra revenue can be simple.

Money talks. Especially when building an incredible event that fits your budget. Though a convention can require substantial funding, it can also be a great revenue stream. Tap into lucrative opportunities with these tips from Elaine Legault, director of production services at the Palais des congrès de Montréal (convention center).

1. Market your content. The old method of hawking sponsored swag and signature cocktails is giving way to branded content, such as sponsoring a specific track of a conference. Think logo splashes on printed programs, branded doors and walls in session rooms, and custom mobile apps. The American College of Chest Physicians took this route at its annual meeting in Montréal in 2015, as did the National Association of College and University Business Officers in 2016. All of that exposure can add up, too, with a higher client investment. “It can be more representative of a value-added service,” Legault said.

2. Hone in on technology. Want to guarantee a sponsorship almost everyone will see? Offer free branded WiFi. Internet-dependent attendees will be grateful to connect, either through a branded SSID network name, splash page, or access code, or by using a sponsor’s website as a landing page. For example, there is no shared internet at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, which provides a branding opportunity for a large share of open networks. “Sponsoring the WiFi translates into providing a highly valuable service to delegates,” Legault said. “The brand gets associated with speed, robustness, and a productive meeting.”

3. Sell advertising on a convention center’s e-commerce portal. How does it sound to sell advertising space to a third party on an established e-commerce site and keep 100 percent of the revenue from the ad? At the Palais des congrès de Montréal, for instance, exhibitors can prepurchase convention services for a conference, such as electricity and housekeeping, from local vendors through an e-commerce marketplace. “We’ve turned the online ordering portal into an exhibitor service center with useful information, as well as promotions and discounts,” Legault said. “There’s a lot of traffic here, so it’s an attractive location to advertise. After all, exhibitors buy a lot of services as businesses—insurance, creative services, logistics.” Bonus: The convention center helps sell the advertising space, and the service is free for planners.

4. Get the conversation rolling. It’s never too early to start talking with the convention center about untapped opportunities. The Palais des congrès de Montréal, for example, has a dedicated business solutions manager who works with event planners. The manager will save you time by working with local suppliers and harnessing on-site services, such as its 90-square-foot video wall and 42 highly visible screens dedicated to advertising and event communication. “Exhibitors provide 15 seconds of video, which is less costly and more ecological then producing banners and meter boards,” Legault said.

(Handout photo)