Like most conferences, for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) sponsorship and exhibition plays an integral role in the success of their annual scientific congress.
But for RANZCO it’s not just about revenue raising.
“While the exhibition certainly accounts for a consistent revenue stream, we see the exhibition as an avenue for people to meet and connect face to face with peers and suppliers,” says Sarah Stedman, RANZCO Manager – Events and Industry Relationships.
“We want to make our exhibitors as diverse as our delegate base so we can meet the needs of our various special interest groups. So, each year we want to ensure there’s a strong mix of multi-national groups, single operators and not for profit organisations.”
RANZCO treats their exhibition area as a way to connect peers and special interest groups.
To achieve this objective year after year, RANZCO needs to continually evolve their sponsorship offerings to maintain a viable option for industry support. While doing so they need to remain cognizant of industry guidelines and codes of conduct.
Since 2011 – we’ve been involved with RANZCO every year since 2011, bar one – Think Business Events (TBE) has worked with RANZCO to implement a number of strategies to generate sponsorship loyalty and value. In this time, we’ve significantly increased the footprint of the trade display from just over 2500 sqm to 4500sqm.
The secret growth factor
Undoubtedly, there’s been one strategy that has been the most beneficial and rewarding of all.
Each year we hold annual exhibitor feedback sessions, where at the close of the conference, we have a meeting with all sponsors and exhibitors to obtain feedback on what worked and what didn’t. We also undertake to get feedback from delegates, Fellows and Associates to get their perspective and what they want to see in the exhibition.
“We listen to what they say and ensure we react to it the following year,” says Sarah. “It also gives us an opportunity to gain an insight from exhibitors as to what’s happening at other conferences and exhibitions that may benefit our meeting.”
From an organisational perspective, RANZCO has been able to rely upon Think Business Events to integrate feedback and ideas into their conference.
“It’s the continuity of Think Business Events’ service and in-depth knowledge that’s really helped,” says Sarah. “Over the years TBE has developed strong relationships with the sponsors and exhibitors involved. This mixed with their extensive understanding of the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturers Code of Conduct and knowledge of different venues helps in translating ideas and feedback into workable options for our congress and sponsors.”
A Buffet of Opportunities
Denise Broeren, Think Business Events Director and RANZCO Conference Manager believes the annual sessions have clearly resulted in the development and nurturing of relationship and the building of trust in the process.
“Sponsors and exhibitors know we have their key interest at heart,” says Denise. “That we’ll keep evolving the Congress and sponsorship opportunities to ensure we deliver value for their participation.”
This year, the team will be introducing a shopping cart menu outside of the traditional gold, silver categories to provide value to all participants.
“We want to ensure that those companies who have been supporting us for the last 20 years – especially those small business operators with minimal budgets – can also get maximum exposure at a reasonable cost,” says Sarah.
RANZO’S TOP FIVE SPONSORSHIP INNOVATIONS
From listening to the feedback of our exhibitors and sponsors over the years we responded with integrating these key strategies:
- Buffet Menu: A move away from the traditional gold, silver, bronze categories to offer a shopping cart option that allows a company to choose their entitlements.
“Rather than telling a company they need to slot into a category, we will tailor their package to them enabling them to meet their own objectives providing better bang for their buck.”
- Branded Catch-up Zones: After feedback from delegates of the lack of places to sit or eat food away from exhibitors, we created 6×3 branded, catch up zones outside of the exhibition hall.
“It was a win-win scenario. While delegates were able to retreat from the exhibition zone, we were still able to provide sponsors an opportunity to expose their brand to their audience.”
- Education Hubs: The introduction of an education hub into the exhibition area where sponsors can run 15-20 minute information/education sessions for delegates during lunch. “It extended educational opportunities for delegates and connection opportunities for exhibitors.”
- Innovative Merchandise Ideas: We provided sponsors with the opportunity to provide branded, reusable water bottles for all delegates.
“We installed water dispensers around the venue and the water bottles had to be used by delegates wanting water. It resulted in the branded water bottles being highly visible throughout the entirety of the conference.”
- Longer Lunches: We extended the lunch breaks from 60 minutes to 90 minutes to provide more opportunities to connect.
“RANZCO is a typically busy Congress, where there are a number of special interest group meetings during lunch breaks. By extending the lunch hours we were able to maximise opportunities for people to attend meetings, eat lunch and visit exhibitors.”
Testimonial from Sarah Stedman, RANZCO Manager – Events and Industry Relationships.
“It’s the continuity of Think Business Events’ service and in-depth knowledge that’s really helped. Over the years ,TBE has developed strong relationships with the sponsors and exhibitors involved. This mixed with their extensive understanding of the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturers Code of Conduct and knowledge of different venues helps in translating ideas and feedback into workable options for our congress and sponsors.”