1. Find the Value for Attendees

Filter every sponsorship decision through the lens of attendee experience. Figure out what the value is for attendees. If it has value, keep it. If not, lose it. If it has some value, see if you can bundle it in with other opportunities.

2. Get Straight to the Good Stuff

Think about how can you use sponsorships to make the best parts of a meeting—things like the opening general session speaker, or an evening reception—better. For example, most organizations use the time leading up to the opening session speaker to thank a laundry list of sponsors, then have a sponsor talk about their products and services before introducing the keynote speaker, said Kastner. Instead of generating excitement and interest in the speaker and the sponsor, this trains attendees to show up a half-hour late so they arrive just in time for the good stuff—the speaker.

“What if you got straight to the good stuff?” she said. Then, at the end of the keynote, you could have the speaker thank the sponsor for making their session possible, and provide even more value by telling attendees how they can download a sponsored whitepaper on the topic. Better, right?

3. Brighten Up the Bad Moments

You also want to see how you can use sponsorships to make the worst parts of a meeting better. Most people would agree that one of the least fun aspects of a meeting is the travel to get there. Attendees often arrive at the meeting venue tired, grumpy, feeling hassled, and likely with a dead or dying phone or tablet. Kastner called Cvent’s welcome gift—a logoed pre-charged portable charger—a “brilliant example of how to make one of the worst parts more tolerable.” Technology in general is a good sponsorship area, she said, because it provides high value and generally has fairly soft costs.