Conference sponsorship: a new way

AIM Group International’s survey reveals how open sponsors are to support events during this period, and in particular, to new opportunities being offered by digital and hybrid events

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Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno, VP AIM Group International: "When the health emergency is over, people will feel the need to meet again face to face more than ever; to discover new places, locations, cities and local food; develop new skills and attitudes thanks to experiential education; networking with peers and colleagues; to build collectively, new unforgettable experiences." Credit: AIM Group International

EUROPE - AIM Group International, a European company specialising in congresses, events and communication, has published a survey, Sponsoring Events During the COVID Crisis, which was carried out amongst 350 pharmaceutical and biomedical company representatives.

The aim of the survey was to learn how open sponsors are to support events during this health emergency, and in particular, to the new opportunities offered by digital and hybrid events. The results reveal that the interest in new virtual platforms is high, but companies are still convinced that in-presence, face-to-face events offer a greater value.

A summary of the findings is as follows:
•    58% of respondents would sponsor traditional multi-sponsor or exclusive sponsorship of in-presence events, to be held between September and December 2020.
•    72% would be interested in hybrid solutions that combines in-presence with digital events.
•    78% would be interested in sponsoring fully virtual events.
•    A virtual event should be interactive, flexible, 3D and in augmented reality and be able to track data.
•    99.5% consider useful that the contents are available on demand after the congress, ensuring greater availability for participants and greater visibility for sponsors.
•    72% would like to see distance learning (DL) incorporated into the digital event, which would be available after the congress.
•    56% of sponsors would like to invest less in virtual events, 34% would invest the same and 10% are willing to increase budgets if greater visibility is guaranteed.

"The unprecedented crisis and change in the meetings sector motivated us to conduct a dedicated survey to better understand if traditional sponsors of conferences (pharma and biomedical companies) are interested in digital events and how they would invest," said Ms Gaia Santoro, head of the Sponsorship Unit at AIM Group International.

"First of all, the high number of answers we received in a short time was notable. This highlights that this topic is hot for companies who want to communicate with their target audiences, despite the health crisis. 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."

She said sponsors consider in-presence events are at a critical juncture and they do not want to see them being abandoned or considered obsolete due to the digital opportunities.

"Finally, we can infer that sponsors are ready to give support to realise new virtual experiences, provided that scientific content is relevant, participants are engaged, and interaction with sponsors is guaranteed," she added.

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Sponsors consider in-presence events are at a critical juncture and do not want to see them being abandoned or considered obsolete due to the digital opportunities. Credit: AIM Group International

The company is collaborating closely with the medical community and sponsors in order to find the best solutions for their new needs and will adapt the sponsorship proposals and digital solutions. It recently organised its first full digital congress for the scientific society, AIOP, and claims that the association board and participants reported high levels of satisfaction with this event.  

Earlier this month, its pre-COVID-19 events garnered several awards, including The World Tunnel Congress, held in Naples, which was marked by activities for tunnel engineers who visited ancient Greek and Roman caves and the underground of Naples. The innovative programme attracted a record number of attendees and a high number of exhibitors.

It also organised the Lions Club International event which drew 25,000 delegates for over 20 event days encompassing a colourful parade of 15,000 people weaving through the streets of Milan's city centre.

Ms Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno, VP AIM Group International, said: "At AIM Group, we are convinced that virtual events are a good solution for the present situation. For many of our current association congresses, we are thrilled to create interactive and tailor-made projects, according to each client's own context and needs.

"As event professionals, we must free our imagination every day, leaving our comfort zone and our well-established procedures, visions and job roles, re-inventing our profession with creativity and courage."

"Thanks to digital events and remote working, we are experiencing the efficiency of a 100% digital lifestyle. Although we are also realising that something is missing: the physical sense of belonging, the richness of human interactions, the emotions and vivid memories related to real-life experiences.

"We believe in the power of events and the value they can offer to companies, associations, sponsors and participants and destinations as well as the local community. When the health emergency is over, people will feel the need to meet again face to face more than ever; to discover new places, locations, cities and local food; develop new skills and attitudes thanks to experiential education; networking with peers and colleagues; to build collectively, new unforgettable experiences."



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