Event planners seeking to attract sponsors to their digital meetings and trade shows might be pleased to learn that a new survey finds four-fifths of surveyed organizations expressed interested in sponsoring virtual events. But this high level of interest comes with caveats, in particular the expectation from prospective sponsors that an online event provides them with opportunities to interact with attendees.
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The findings, from conference organizer AIM Group International, were drawn from a survey of 350 representatives of pharmaceutical and biomedical companies. The survey found that while 58 percent of respondents said they would sponsor in-person events between September and December 2020, 72 percent said they would be interested in a hybrid live-and-digital event, while 78 percent said they would be interested in sponsoring a fully digital gathering.
Gaia Santoro, head of AIM Group's Sponsorship Unit, pointed to the high number of responses as an indication of the level of interest sponsors have in this topic — and the fact they want to keep communicating with their target audiences, even when in-person gatherings are barred.
"It is also remarkable, maybe even surprising, that the majority of corporate sponsors are keen to see the return of face-to-face events by the autumn," said Santoro. "This underlines that sponsors consider that in-presence events are at a critical juncture, and they don't want to see them being abandoned or considered obsolete due to the digital opportunities."
But while the findings point to a high level of interest in digital events, respondents do expect them to offer particular elements. When asked what characteristics or tools they expected of the virtual events they sponsored, top responses were for the meetings to be interactive, flexible, 3D, to offer augmented reality and to have the ability to track data.
Almost all respondents (99.5 percent) said they consider it useful that the contents be available on-demand after the event, to offer convenience for attendees and greater visibility for sponsors. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of sponsors said they would like to see distance learning incorporated into the digital event, which would also be available after the gathering.
Rosangela Quieti, managing director of the congress department of AIM Group International, said that AIM recently organized its first fully digital congress for the scientific society AIOP.
"We are delighted to report that the association board and participants reported high levels of satisfaction with this event," she said. "Inspired by this positive experience, we are more determined than ever to imagine new creative formats in the future, hybrid or multihub, when it will be possible to meet again."