Good Reads You Might Have Missed: Working With Meeting Vendors

Associations’ relationships with meeting vendors have shifted in recent years. Check out a few highlights from the back catalog.

Whether they’re exhibiting their products and services on the tradeshow floor, lending a helping hand in executing the event, or sponsoring what’s happening on stage, vendors play a key part in the event ecosystem.

The problem is, that ecosystem has been a little challenging of late, in part because of the shift to virtual and then hybrid events, which has changed the value equation a bit.

So if you’re among the associations looking for ideas on how to evolve your approach to meeting vendors and exhibitors, take in a few in the Associations Now and archives:

Create More Value for Your Virtual Sponsors and Exhibitors. This piece, featuring an interview with Lewis Flax of Flax Associates, highlights the shifts that associations have had to make to ensure value in the virtual environment—value that doesn’t work in quite the way it used to. “The ones who are ahead of the game are the associations who try new things, who test new things, who look at how we’re going to go about it differently,” Flax said.

‌How to Talk With Vendors About Environmental Goals. Sometimes, your relationship with vendors is about getting them on the same page as you. This piece highlights industry initiatives that can help ensure that everyone stays focused on sustainability. “Event organizers, supplier partners, education providers, and participants all have roles to play in achieving the sustainability goals for an event,” said Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA, the Events Industry Council’s vice president for sustainability.

Let’s Rethink the Virtual Exhibit Hall. Near the end of 2020, a number of vendors got together in a hackathon-style event to discuss the challenges the sector faces in the wave of virtual events. Matthew Homann, founder and CEO of Filament LLC, said that those who took part saw the situation as an opportunity: “What if instead, you start to think about, what can we do virtually that we can’t possibly imagine doing in person?” This piece summarizes some of the things they learned.

Virtual Tech Showcase Proves Successful Alternative to Virtual Exhibit Hall. In 2021, the AABC Commissioning Group faced a challenge: How could the organization’s CxEnergy 2021 Virtual Conference keep the energy of a live event? The simple answer: Treat it like a tech showcase. This piece from AABC’s Anna Kosova, CAE, and Sam Schwarz breaks down what the organizers learned in putting on an event as a series of live demos. “After a year of socially distanced shows, exhibitors know the virtual engagement rate just isn’t the same as an onsite event,” they wrote. “The showcase format gave exhibitors 20 minutes of attendee attention to demonstrate their technology and answer questions.”

The Benefits of an Exhibitor Engagement Strategy. Instead of just hoping for good engagement with its exhibitors, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers tried a different approach—it created a whole department for them. “We really want to be that one-stop shop for exhibitors,” AEM’s Mary Bukovic said. “Whatever their needs are, our resources are there to help them get the greatest possible ROI in our shows and provide the service levels they expect when they call or email AEM.”

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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