MeetingsNet’s four-part feature on virtual sponsorship strategies continues with advice on using gamification and gifting successfully.
Lesson 5: Gamification Drives Interaction—Try It!
Gamification can be used by both the event host and its individual partners to get more attendees to spend time online with exhibitors and sponsors. Tom Myers, vice president of sales services for SmithBucklin, sometimes adapts the “passport to prizes” approach that is popular at in-person events. “That’s where attendees run around to different exhibit booths or sponsor activations and get a stamp in return for their contact info and a minute of their time with a rep,” he says. “Well, one thing about the virtual environment is that attendees can go to many more booths” because there’s no time constraint each day. “So, if they collect maybe 50 stamps by speaking in real time with partners or watching 60-second videos from partners before the show ends, they get a gift or are entered in a drawing for a larger prize.”
In a twist on that concept, Myers (pictured here) says he sometimes suggests to exhibitors “if you are going to spend $5,000 on marketing your event presence, hold back $1,000 and use that as the prize for a drawing and promote it. That will drive a ton of traffic to a booth and bring in a lot of email addresses and other prospect data.”
One game that the American Academy of Physician Assistants used on the first day of its virtual event is a fact-finding scavenger hunt. Del Baker-Robertson, AAPA’s director of strategic business development, solicited from exhibitors one fact or statistic found in the content of each virtual booth, then created questions prompting attendees to find those bits of information on their own. The attendee who collected the most correct answers in the two-hour time frame won a Peloton in-home bike. Another contest AAPA used throughout their event focused on the total number of sessions attended and partner contacts made by attendees, with real-time leaderboards tracking attendee activity in the race to win another Peloton bike.
Another idea: Myers suggests conducting what he calls “fun contests or polls, things that focus on the lighter side of business or are lifestyle-oriented. It's just a matter of getting creative on the best way to drive virtual attendees to booths.”
Lesson 6: Gifting Works for the Virtual World
With no opportunity to walk around and mingle in break areas or at off-site venues, your virtual participants can be drawn to interesting sponsor experiences during and after show hours—but a giveaway helps, too.
Products related to the special event can be delivered to the homes of attendees who sign up ahead of time. Mixology kits for drink-making classes, glassware and literature for spirit sampling and education, ingredients for cooking lessons, DoorDash deliveries for cultural cuisine sampling and education, Apple Airpods for musical performances, and workout clothing and equipment for wellness breaks just scratch the surface of possibilities that sponsors can use.
For one of Medical Group Management Association’s virtual events earlier in the year, exhibit and sponsorship manager Denise Miller assisted a major sponsor with a 15-minute “brain break” that was held between afternoon educational sessions. Because one of her staffers is a certified meditation instructor, she suggested that the sponsor send out yoga mats to preregistered attendees, introduce both their product and the instructor at the outset, have him lead a meditation lesson, and thank the audience at the end. The result: More than 500 of the 1,700 virtual attendees participated in that brain break.
One other consideration: Sending products to attendees who preregister for a virtual social event means there’s less waste than providing less-expensive and impersonal giveaways to an entire audience.