As associations turned to online events early in the pandemic, they quickly learned that the virtual environment didn’t meet engagement expectations for industry partners and sponsors.
Instead, some partners felt as if they were treated “like ATMs,” where they were asked to sponsor events with little outreach or discussion of the changes that marred 2020, according to Lewis Flax, a partner at the consulting firm Flax Associates. And many didn’t have great experiences with virtual meetings. For example, some organizations experienced little traffic to virtual booths and few leads, leaving sponsors feeling they had little to show for their investment.
As in-person meetings resume, industry partners want to be engaged, and the best way to do that is to talk to them about their needs, desired outcomes, and ideas.
“There needs to be conversations; there needs to be discussions,” Flax said. “What is it that the sponsor has found successful through other channels? … How have they shifted or changed their approach?”
Talking through those questions can generate ideas that ensure partners are engaged in ways that are meaningful for them, the association, and event participants.