Seven Sponsorship Activation Ideas for Your Next Conference that Audiences will LOVE

It’s no secret that many professional conferences could use some spicing up. Between mundane topics, attendees that feel they ‘have to’ be there and lackluster displays, sponsors can be at a disadvantage right from the start.

But if the subject matter doesn’t invoke excitement on its own, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a memorable audience experience that transcends the nature of the event.

With a little creativity and following some basic concepts, you can take just about any conference and turn it into something worth talking about. Here are seven sponsorship activations for your next conference that audiences will love.

Create an Interactive Experience at Your Conference

Getting the audience involved in a fun and interactive way can boost the engagement level and help to create a positive perception of the brand, as well. Things like interactive displays that engage multiple senses, scavenger hunts and other tasks that appeal to the tastes of that particular audience can all add some excitement to the conference.

Make a Game of It

Don’t assume that your attendees aren’t interested in playing games just because the nature of the event may be more serious or straight-laced. Games are especially useful if you are trying to impart knowledge and have them absorb new information. Schools from all different levels incorporate learning games into their curriculum because they work. You can also tap into the specific skillset of the attendees. A couple of examples would be creating numbers games for an accounting conference or a game that includes guessing measurements for a contractor’s conference.

Tell Stories

Even the most mundane conference can be spruced up with stories. For sponsors to make a meaningful connection with attendees, there aren’t many more effective ways than telling stories. You can tell the story of how the company came into existence and tap into the history, tell stories in the form of testimonials and positive reviews or have influential people in the industry tell a story of how that brand impacted their life.

Virtual Reality

There’s nothing quite as immersive as virtual reality, and if you are trying to get a point across or illustrate a particular product or service, this is a great sponsorship activation to consider. Using virtual reality will take them out of the conference to wherever you want them to go, and in all likelihood is something they won’t soon forget.

Unique Giveaways

Everyone likes the idea of winning a contest or giveaway, and a sponsorship activation like this gives you a chance to really ramp up the uniqueness factor and make an impact. Winning a new prototype of the latest product or a free service is great, but winning an all-expense paid trip to your headquarters to choose the product, or a lifetime of free service will make a lasting impression and have attendees climbing over each other to enter.

Provide a Unique Experience

There’s a story of a brand activation by Durango Boots, where they installed a mechanical bull for attendees to ride at their leisure. The key to creating a unique experience like this is knowing your audience and what types of things they will enjoy. Another activation by DirecTv recreated a tailgating experience similar to an NFL game. Again, they knew their audience and capitalized on it.

Help Keep Everyone Fully Charged

Providing charging stations for attendees isn’t exactly a new idea, but everyone will appreciate it because people from every walk of life use smartphones today. Whether you have several plugs and adaptors or hand out portable chargers, don’t just give it away for nothing. Make them tag the sponsor on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (or all three), or hand over an email address for the charging privilege.

It’s also possible to combine two or more elements from the various sponsorship activation ideas to give attendees something they’ll be talking about long after the conference has ended. Creating a virtual reality game that is told as a story and ends with a potential giveaway will take the engagement factor to a whole new level.

If you focus on the audience throughout the planning process, you will be well on your way to creating a conference worth remembering, and boost the signups for next year. When sponsors understand the conference sponsorship benefits associated with memorable activations, they will feel confident that your event is the right one.


Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.

After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.

Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.

Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn