Selling Transportation Sponsorships


As the general manager of Newsday Communications, a division of Event Transportation Systems, I am tasked with helping our clients generate sponsorship revenue that can help offset the cost of shuttle transportation. If you are not already thinking about shuttles as "vehicles" for exhibitors to promote their brands, drive traffic to their exhibits or announce new products and services, it's time to start.

In most destinations, nearly every attendee will see an external shuttle-bus ad multiple times as they enter and exit a convention center.  Plus, shuttle buses create a captive audience for both interior graphics and video advertising that can't easily be ignored. Here are just a few examples and best practices.

Graphics and video
Consider selling opportunities by route or per bus, and create packages of different types of graphics bundled with video.

Be flexible - selling per bus and offering discounts for bundling might be ideal. Selling per bus vs. per route allows advertisers to get exposure across multiple routes.

If buses are equipped for video, hire an editor to combine static slides and existing content that promotes organisational messaging, and then sell ads from 15 seconds to 2 minutes in length that can be included in the program.  You can put some music behind the slides and video to bring attention to the program without disturbing riders.

For a more robust approach, produce a program featuring interviews with attendees, speakers and leadership; highlights of special events, and promotional segments for various initiatives. Programs can be created in advance or on-site each day during a meeting. The content can be repurposed for use online, in hotels on dark channels and in the convention center during the meeting, providing maximum messaging impact and exposure.

Inventory opportunities 
Develop a rate sheet with visual examples of each graphic type and links to examples of video ads.

Include the number of buses available for graphics and video (generally only non-peak buses are best for graphics, while video programmes can be distributed on any buses). 

To maximise revenue, consider offering more inventory of the larger graphic options (e.g., a "King Kong" graphic) vs. smaller options (a partial ribbon banner).

Consider allowing different advertisers to buy the inside and the outside of the buses (e.g., one advertiser might buy an exterior graphic while a different advertiser would purchase seat headrest covers).

Be sure to promote competing products on different buses. 

Sales strategies
Entice sponsors to buy a bundled opportunity by offering a discount on exterior buys of three or more large graphics, and/or a discount for video advertising along with the purchase of graphics. 

Consider using the graphic vendor's sales force to reach out to prospective sponsors. Vendors have experience in successfully selling these opportunities and can take all the related details off your plate.

If your organisation handles sales, ask your vendor for a net rate for graphics and cost to produce a video program. If your vendor sells the opportunities, typically a revenue-share arrangement will apply.

Return on investment
Note that almost all attendees - even those who don't take the bus - will see an exterior advertisement at least twice per day.

For interior advertising, track the number of shuttle riders per loop, and include that data in your post-event report.

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