One of the major changes Ostrander and his staff made when they came to SYMC concerned exhibitors. “We had to completely revamp the way we engaged with them,” he says. It was no longer enough to stick them in 10x10 booths.

They started by referring to them as ministry partners rather than exhibitors. The new term better reflects their role as collaborators, according to Ostrander. Beyond that, SYMC sought to engage them with the organization all year long, not just during the conference. Partners now get not just a booth, but ads in the organization’s magazine, newsletter, or Web site. “We have the ability to really extend that partnership,” he says. It may cost the ministry partner more, but the benefit is much greater.

The result was tremendous demand from ministry partners, to the point where they had to turn some away because they didn’t have enough booth space.