Event Sponsorship 101

When you're the person responsible for organizing an event or a conference, you need to know that these things take time. It's not easy to organize events when there are so many layers involved. From the budget to the registration, from the venue booking to the catering, from the transportation to the conference material, and even up to the sponsors, there’s so much to get ready! 

The moment you know that you're the one responsible for the entire event, as well as your support team, you should plan to have at least 12 to 18 months until the actual event. This will give you time to make everything right… especially when you need to take care of sponsorship!

Getting the right sponsors can be somewhat tricky, especially if this is the first time you're doing it. So, here are four steps you will need to take to make sure that you get the best sponsors on board in time for your amazing event.

 

#1: Timing, Timing, Timing.

WHEN you ask is even more important than WHAT you ask for. Companies set their budgets in the fourth quarter of the current year for the entire next fiscal year. Most sponsorship dollars come from marketing budgets, NOT “charitable donations” - which means that you want your prospective sponsors to build in dollars for your event as a marketing expense. If you have an event in December of 2018, for example, you will have a MUCH greater chance of success if you approach the company between September & November of 2017, as opposed to waiting until March or April of 2018. Sure, you might still get $500 left in an unused category – but big money is planned well in advance.

 

#2: Plan your event with the sponsors you want in mind.

While you are still planning the event, take into account the kind of sponsors you'll be contacting. Usually, most events tend to be only planned considering the participants. (This just makes sense, but…) if you take one step ahead before you actually contact the sponsors or even invite the guests, this may help you get your sponsors on board.

 

#3: Identify what you have to offer the sponsors – and present it professionally!

You’ve already got the location – just take a look around and see how you can integrate sponsors’ logos and brand names. Do you have participant t-shirts, programs, banners, etc? Logos on these items catch a lot of peoples’ eyes whether it is conscious or subconscious. How about letting sponsors speak or air a commercial at your event? Can you give them a dedicated eBlast or Social Media post to your followers? Hand out marketing materials? If you can use your imagination and get creative, they will be much more likely to be your sponsor.

Also - talk in marketing lingo. How will their investment pay off by getting them in front of your audience? Tell them about your mailing list of 20,000 people who’ll be getting a postcard with their logo. If they’re buying a $5,000 sponsorship, that’s only 25 cents per impression, which is better than lots of the advertising they are probably doing. Make it easy for them to see why spending dollars on your event will pay off BIG for them.

Speaking of materials - make sure your ask is done professionally. Gone are the days of using Microsoft Word templates for sponsorship decks. Have your introduction letter, deck and agreement created by a graphic designer. Everything you send out reflects the image of your event – so make sure it’s branded and polished!

 

#4: Target the Audience.

When you reach out to a sponsor about your event, one of the first things they will ask you will be about your audience. They need to know who is going to be seeing their name everywhere and if your event is even worth their time. Ultimately, you need to understand that they receive a lot of proposals, and unless your audience and theirs are similar, they have no interest in sponsoring your event. So, make sure that your audiences are similar before you even approach them.

Only after you have all of these things covered should you try to reach a sponsor for the first time. As you can imagine, booking the right place, finding the audience that will attend your event, and every single factor that can affect the sponsor's answer needs to be known before the first contact. However, even after all of that, there are still many open questions that need to be discussed, such as: an original proposal that can be accepted or not, editing the proposal, negotiating the agreement, and finally reaching a good solution for both parts. All of these things take a lot of time.

Although you may think your work with the sponsors for your event is over as soon as you have the agreement signed, you're assumption is wrong. (Sorry, kid!) You need to make sure that you always keep the sponsors up to date on what's happening with the event preparation, and definitely make sure you're complying with your part of the agreement.

Although 12-18 months seems like a lot of time, it really isn't. Some people even say that the best time frame to consider for this job is between 18 to 24 months! (Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true!) So, make sure that you have everything planned to start contacting your potential sponsors as soon as possible. This will allow you to accommodate any changes and negotiations of the final agreement.

Hopefully, you see the importance of all of these steps and why they need so much time, because I assure you, your sponsors do!

7 Factors for Meeting Destination Mastery

Where you host your event is a big deal. And by big deal, I mean BIG DEAL. I’m not just talking about the venue, although that’s definitely important. I’m talking about the city or destination that’s hosting the event. This is especially important if you have what I like to call a “roaming event” that goes to a new destination each year/occurrence.

Not that we profess to be mind-readers, but we do know that Meeting & Conference organizers choose their event destination based on a number of contributing factors and have detailed the most common ones below:

 

1. Meeting Budget

There may be other factors folks would consider first, but we find that budget tends to be the most important piece to review right away. For example, a multi-day corporate training event has to consider the room rate in their budget. If your event can’t exceed a $129 per night room rate, there are a handful of destinations that are immediately off-limits certain times of year (and a few that are off-limits all year… ahem… San Francisco).

Also, if you have no room in your budget for meals, you may want to choose a destination that has enough “foodie appeal” that people are excited to eat the food in the destination and not be cooped up in the meeting room all day every day – you could use this to your advantage!

Finalizing your budget and how much you are going to spend on the different areas of your event can help determine whether or not you can afford to host your event overseas, a few states away, or if you will have to put it all together in your company’s home town.

 

2. Event Size

This may seem silly. Every destination has lots of hotel and meeting space, right? Kinda…  If you’re doing a smaller 250 attendee event, you have many more destination options than if you’re doing a 50,000 attendee festival. There are just some cities that are not equipped to handle that kind of influx of business because of all the details that go into being the host destination – air and ground transportation, safety, security, restaurants, attractions, etc… For example, Chicago, IL is far more equipped to handle a large convention than, say, Rochester, NY. Not to say that it’s impossible, but it’s just important to know these details as you start to weigh your options.  

 

3. Attendee Profile

Who’s coming to this event? Is it 350 Church pastors who are discussing how to help their congregation stay pure in the social media age? Then, you may not want to have your event in Las Vegas, NV. However, if you’re doing an event for 1,500 millennials about tech entrepreneurship, Vegas might be the best destination to serve their needs. If your event is a family retreat for families of children with special needs, New Orleans may not be as great of a fit for their needs as Anaheim, CA (DISNEY, DISNEY, DISNEY)! Makes sense right? Think about who you’re targeting and ensure that your event is in an appropriate destination for your peeps!

Next you are going to want to determine what the feel of your event is – why are you having an event? What do you want to get out of it, and what do you want your attendees to get out of it? The entire mood of an event can drastically change depending on who is coming and that will majorly inform your destination decisions.

 

4. Destination Appeal

What will you be doing inside and outside of this event? These days, meeting rooms and conference rooms are not enough. You need to make sure there are plenty of relevant activities to enjoy inside and outside of your venue or hotel. Are there any restaurants close by? Movie theaters? Gondola rides? Your attendees won’t be sitting inside listening to you talk all day, so make sure there are plenty of things to do once they leave the convention center for the evening.

And don’t forget to consider what the weather will be like on these days! For instance, changing seasons (or lack there-of) play an important role in many events. Many people from the Midwest would much rather go to a warmer location such as Arizona during the middle of their winter than to a place that is equally as cold as their hometown. Choosing the right season to have your event is an important consideration factor.

 

5. Transportation and Proximity

My rule of thumb is to try to stay within 2-3-hour flight distance from most of your event attendees; closer if you have a loose association (typical home buyer expo attendees) and further if you have a really close association with the attendees (employees in your corporation). Unless you are hosting an all-expense paid overseas conference that everyone can’t stop dreaming about, then you will probably want to follow the 2-3 hour flight rule of thumb.

I am sure for someone living in Maryland, the thought about traveling to Seattle is enticing, but not when they know they need to be back by 2pm on the final day of the conference because they must attend parent teacher conferences. But if the event was in New York, they could make that work so they don’t have to travel all the way across the country! Likewise, if you are hosting an event for people from all over the country, then we would definitely suggest choosing a location in the middle of everyone, such as Dallas, Texas.

And of course, if you ever get stuck deciding, don’t be afraid to reach out! Here at Nuila Events, LLC, we are constantly comparing and sourcing different destinations for various events. We would love to put our proprietary bench-marking and destination comparison tools to work to help you find the perfect fit for your next meeting!

Quit Engaging Millennials

Quit Engaging Millennials

Ah!  No!  We have to reach them – they’re a new market and critical to our success as a (event, business, venue, etc…)!

Stop. It.

For all the talk, print, and news that has worried employers, other generations, and the general populace like no other, the entire idea of “engaging millennials” has gone far enough.

Marriott and Starwood: What We Know So Far...

Marriott and Starwood: What We Know So Far...

A shift in the hotel business universe is upon us because Marriott International has just become the largest hotel chain in the world! How? Well, they completed and approved a 13-billion-dollar acquisition of Starwood Resort and Hotels back in September 2016, but the full effect of the purchase is starting to be felt by loyal guests of both companies.

The Story Secret

There’s an old saying in sales – “facts tell and stories sell” and anyone that has ever sold anything knows that this is so true.  Smart salespeople and entrepreneurs realized this long ago and inevitably bring “story” into the conversation when they are working with prospects. 

Image courtesy of Engagient.com

Image courtesy of Engagient.com

Far more than just features and benefits, story puts you into a completely different place in the buying conversation – you start to envision yourself in the story and guess what?  You start making the same decisions that the storyteller made.

Before you know it, you’ve bought the item, be it a tool for the kitchen, a new phone, or a house.

Here at Nuila Events, we’re happy to share an interactive opportunity to craft your own story and learn to use it for your business! Presented by The Honest Entrepreneur, The Story Secret event welcomes expert storyteller, Michael Kass, who teaches participants how to reframe sales tactics and build instant connections using their own expertly crafted stories. Watch this short video as Michael introduces the event and shares about what you can expect to take away from the event!

Event organizers - think about your own story for a few minutes and how it applies to an event that you are putting on – be it for the holidays or for the company.  What is the story that you are telling in how the event is organized?  Is it one of success?  Struggle?  The best year ever?  

All these things need to go into your own event planning because they are all a part of the message that you convey to your guests.  In many cases, the nature of the party suggests what the expectation of the event is.  In the end, putting on a great event has a lot more to do with the feel of the event versus how good the entertainment or the food was – again – storytelling.  

We’re truly looking forward to hosting this event on March 10th, 2017.  As specialists in helping clients to create story through their events, working with an expert in actually creating the story that small businesses use is going to be a great experience.  You can find out more about The Story Secret by clicking right here; and if you've found yourself with end-of-year meeting planning that has left you in a panic, make sure that you reach out to us at Nuila Events and let's see what we can do to help you write a different ending to the story, too.

Drilling Your Teeth at Home?

Hey guys!  I wanted to share a great new process that you can use to save a bunch of money.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve read a lot about it online and it sounds great!

Simply put, you can use a 3/8 drill motor and some two-part epoxy to drill out any cavities.  Think of the money you save on your dental insurance!

Vibrant Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Vibrant Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Now, that sounds absurd, and I’m sure there is somebody “off the grid” that might actually be doing that.  In the real world, though, there are just some things that you can’t compromise on.  In this same world, there are only 168 hours in the week, so having an expert handle things like replacing your car’s brakes, dentistry, and event planning is not only a no-brainer, it’s also a lot less expensive than using your own time to do it.

After all, why trust an unknown source online to give you advice when you can engage with experts in the field?  

Let’s look at an example from our specialty here at Nuila Events – simply booking the venue for an event.  As Meeting & Event Consultants who specialize in handling bookings for hotels for conferences and conventions, the truth is that most people don’t know the language of that business.  We have a large network that has spent years developing relationships with hotels all around the country, and as a result of that experience, we know which days are best to book, how to approach each venue and negotiate the best rates for our clients, and how to create equitable agreements with the host venue that allow us to get great rates and avoid costly “gotchas” in those agreements.  

ZeeBlu

ZeeBlu

Thus, the venue often has the upper hand when many people come to negotiate – and that is why it is so important to work with a professional.  Our experience in dealing with and benchmarking literally thousands of events lets us help you find the best deal.  

Now, understand one thing … you absolutely can do all the legwork yourself.  No doubt about it.  The downside is that all the research can take days or even weeks, and then, although you are well informed, the next step – and the most critical one – is the actual agreement and contract.  Most venues have a standard contract in place, but it is one that is written by their lawyers and one that is written in their favor.

The Morris Law Firm, LLC

The Morris Law Firm, LLC

What does that mean?  Even though you are well-informed, you still can be taken advantage of since most of these documents are private.  When you partner with seasoned experts like Nuila Events and Experient, we know what the correct rates are in any given town (and they vary by season, location, and even day!) so we can absolutely help you to nail down the right price, the right time, and the event agreement that protects you instead of just protecting the venue hosting the event.

Come to think of it, this is the exact reason that we got into this business in the first place – to help people just like you to plan those major business events that most people rarely have to think about – and make the entire event come together flawlessly.  Isn’t that a whole lot better than drilling your own teeth?

Lynkos

Lynkos

P.S. I know that it still feels too early to be thinking about it, but the company Christmas party is less than 8 weeks away.  If you haven’t figured out everything yet, guess what?  You’re behind.  Venues are booking up and prices are going up, so the ideal time to get the process going is two weeks ago.  Reach out to us today to catch up and get ready to be in the Holiday Spirit!

State of Affairs….

One of the most amazing components in the meeting and events industry is that while the core event doesn’t really change, everything attached to that event is based on trends.

Think about it – no matter the event – some version of it has likely been around for centuries!  Conferences, business parties and holiday celebrations - these are the old mixed with the new – food, fashion, and especially technology.  So what are some of the newest trends when it comes to hosting a great event or meeting?  Read on!

LinkedIn

LinkedIn

Security

Honestly, event and meeting security has always been a condition of event planning, but the world we live in today does have a different component to it.  Not to be a downer, but the days of a first aid kit stashed in the car are gone, and the planning phase of any event has to have the conversation about security.  We’re not ready to put up a metal detector, but depending on the guest list and the venue, having a beefed up security plan is definitely a bigger consideration.

Marketing

The magic of any event has always and continues to be based on engagement.  That trend continues by providing a full marketing campaign prior to the event that then evolves seamlessly into a mobile platform for the event.  Generally this is a stand-alone app for event attendees (or in some cases, anyone who signs up or at least RSVPs), then, post-event, this evolves again into a successful marketing campaign for the company or sponsors who hosted the event.  These days, it is less about the total event than about creating a community and engagement from the moment a participant signs up.

Of course, planners have always kept their finger on the pulse of the logistics of any given event, but more and more, we are asked to actively participate and work in the marketing of a given event – especially events for member-based organizations.   The nature of events planning is no longer based solely on the revenues that an event raises because people may not buy right that second, but an event can tip consumers to make a choice days, weeks, or even months later.  The new benchmark is engagement levels and increased overall participation by onsite and at-home participants.

Locatory.com

Locatory.com

The new school of thought is this - hundreds or thousands of people are getting together, all selling, buying, learning and networking, so as experts in the planning and execution of events, we know that every attendee cannot interact with every other attendee or sponsor.   It is impossible to connect with all attendees in person.   Successful events now integrate technology like an event app to provide the maximum ROI for attendees, sponsors and exhibitors.

Event Locations

The newest trends, if we can call them that, are also in the event destinations.  No matter what the event could be, to stay in touch with clients, those clients want more.  A considerable part of that is driven by hotels and their amenities.  People traveling to events usually need a place to stay, and increasingly, they want a full experience.  We expect to see resorts engage even more than they currently do, given the relatively low cost of travel right now.  At the same time, consumers are also taking more family members to events, even if they aren’t going to attend.  Having a full service resort to keep your spouse and kids “busy” while you work is a big draw, and full service hotels know that.  They would rather lose a little on room rates for a larger event and make that up in increased food, beverage, and amenity sales.  

Also, we’ve seen random off-site venues chosen – a converted warehouse, parking garages, even pop-up tents – to engage clients in almost a “flash-mob” style of event.  Expect to see this happen even more (and present a true logistical challenge!)!  Why?  There is one big reason- Millennials.  

Heritage Restoration

Heritage Restoration

Millennials (Generation Y)

The generation gap.  The so-called Millennial generation is comfortable with technology, is mobile, and is not working traditional office hours.  Added to that, they are often questioning why certain standards exist, and the values that they believe in are different.  The same goes for what they like in an event – seemingly random but with a specific goal, along with a healthy dose of fun.

As event organizers, we continue to adapt any offer to understand how it can be received by the Millennial generation.   A study conducted by Amsterdam RAI in 2013 which compared Generation X (the generation born from roughly 1964 to 1985) to the Millennial generation  gave an outlook on the behavior of future exhibition visitors' and revealed that they will mostly be looking for a real "experience", personalized offerings and that they want to be an active part of the event.   

Everplans

Everplans

What do all these things mean?  Depending on what an event needs, everything or nothing.  If you are hosting a black tie event, that event will mostly go off with the same care and planning – and strategy – that would have been used a generation ago.  On the other hand, new technology could make that event truly amazing – a purpose-built mobile app, global live streaming, and an unsuspecting venue could take “nice” to “Unbelieveable!”

7 Deadly Sins of Event Planning

G-Force Extreme Inflatables

G-Force Extreme Inflatables

Well, while there are 7 Deadly Sins in Event Planning, there are exactly two types of people who do the planning – they either love it or hate it.

Those who love it embrace experts’ advice, know when they need help, and they generally pull off great events without the appearance of any hard work.  You know how the event will go if the person in charge of planning it isn’t happy about planning it! 

Now, that being said, you can guess what kind of people we are – we love it!  Every event is different and all the variables make it truly challenging and exciting to pull it all together into a seamless affair.  Of course, we’re professionals at it, so that’s how it’s supposed to be.  For those of you who are planning an event for business, though, there are a few key pointers that we’ve arrived at that will absolutely help you to make it painless and fun:

Being Flexible

This is a tough one.  Every event starts off in the mind of the planner with a certain image, and in some cases, that image may be forced to be changed.  A venue may not be perfect, the caterer may not be able to deliver certain items (perhaps out of season?) and, of course, the weather can impact even an event held indoors.  The truth is that any event is going to have some changes that have to be made – some early, some on the very day of – or during - the actual event.  If you are too set in your mental image of how the event should flow, versus how the event will have to flow, you may find yourself fighting a losing battle and disappointing your audience as well.  A truly worthwhile goal is to adapt your opportunities while you can still control them and manage the rest to the best of the circumstances.

 

AEC Software  

AEC Software

 

Ignoring the Obvious

While there’s nothing wrong with optimism, failing to acknowledge obvious problems while they are still small can jeopardize your entire event.  No one person or company is good at all things and no matter what your budget may be, not planning properly – or making poor assumptions – can run your event right off the tracks.  If you are right at the capacity of the room or venue, then hoping that some guests don’t show is truly poor planning.  (As a rule, leave an extra 15% of total seating for last minute guests, just in case).  A room that seats 100 with 150 guests on the confirmed list is asking for your event to fall into disaster.

If you don’t acknowledge the obvious, you won’t know when it’s necessary to supplement your skill set by engaging with experts.  Also, it is important to make sure that you are comfortable in the roles that you will have to play for the event.  If you dislike the limelight, then getting an MC – versus you doing it yourself – needs to be a part of the planning. 

 

Being a Perfectionist

Striving for excellence isn’t usually a bad thing. But when it comes to event planning, perfectionist tendencies can hinder more than help.   Remember – the day of the event will be here no matter what you do, and waiting too long or holding out for the perfect venue, season, keynote speaker, etc… means that many of the critical pieces will be put off until the last second. 

The pursuit of perfection can be especially problematic in company events.  Most companies have certain times each year, and budgets, to plan events.   For best results, strive to create a simple, elegant, and workable solution to the event that you are planning.  You don’t need the Boston Pops, you need a great band that plays standards.

 

Choosing the Wrong Venue

Savvy event planners can source a large selection of venues for any occasion.  In this way, no matter the event, they have a solution for their clients.  If you are forced into event planning for your company, you need to do the “small” version of this by not settling for the first or the least expensive venue.  Encourage competition between potential sites and make sure that the “best deal” is really a deal – and make sure that you have a contract for the venue as well.  There are various venue sourcing services that you can use to alleviate the stress and pressure of this piece and make sure the agreement protects you properly.

For best results, research your audience before booking a venue – will there be catering, alcohol, technology, a block of rooms, transportation. The goal is to ensure you have your audience and their use in mind when you choose a venue.

Treasures From the Rubble  

Treasures From the Rubble

 

Skimping on Marketing

No matter how strong your game-plan is, not letting guests know about it, or going cheap on the invitations, will doom your event to failure.  After all, with today’s busy and interconnected lives, people have and make plans at a moment’s notice.  At the very least, you should consider not only traditional mailed invitations, but also digital invites – and often several of them – to make sure that your target audience “gets” the message.  Anything less is likely to get lost in the shuffle.   And while many of today’s marketing avenues are technically free (e.g. search engine optimization, social media, content marketing), you may still need someone knowledgeable to handle these responsibilities – either in your company or, even better, in that business. 

Don’t be afraid to spend money on solid and traditional event marketing to connect with attendees.  If you lack the skills to handle print or electronic marketing, don’t be scared to find and pay the experts – no amount of apologies can make up for botched event marketing.

 

Wasting Money on Resources

Now here is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you want to put on a premiere event.  On the other hand, you don’t want to blow through money like a sailor in port.  Balance is the key, and if you have to be the expert, there are some things to remember. 

First of all, look for places to get the most “bang-for-your-buck”.  Most venues have relationships with event companies that can handle everything from the catering to the invitations.  Make sure you ask!

At the same time, don’t be scared to simply ask for some help.  If there is a cost, you’ll quickly find out and with that, you can ask and negotiate what services or amenities you’ll actually need.  Valet parking may be nice, but if the majority of the attendees will be staying in the hotel where your event is hosted, it may be a waste of money for the actual return on the investment.  Always remember that the goal of the event is to have a wonderful experience, and the most important experiences are often the ones you don’t pay for.

 

TeamQualityPro  

TeamQualityPro

 

Picking the Wrong Team

No matter if you have the luxury of an event planner and their team or you have to pull it all together alone, you need to make sure that the team you have is in the right seats on your bus. 

With funding for many events being difficult to secure to begin with and nearly impossible once the planning is started, the smart money is always spent on the right team.  You have every right to thoroughly vet even volunteers for your event – so do it! 

In light of this fact, hiring the wrong companies for your event can be a serious—and potentially costly—error.   Don’t just look at the low price options – make sure you invest in the low-risk options.  Use smart people and companies that can complement the skills needed, not just empty suits that provide you lip-service and follow their own agenda.

There really is not reason for an event to be a painful experience to plan, but when you don’t divert around these seven problem areas, you will find yourself in trouble of one kind or another.  On the other hand, forewarned is forearmed, so when you start your event planning, take these lessons to heart and make it an easy and memorable event that is executed without a hitch and within the budget.