I have noticed a theme of disconnect between sponsors and conference participants this week. Sponsors spend good money to reserve exhibit space and advertising time in the general sessions. Some attenders feel restless about the time allowed to sponsors, especially when specific sponsors choose to go over their allotted time frames. I think there is a little bit of mutual misunderstanding between the two parties.
Here is how I see it. In order to offset conference costs which are not covered by registration revenue, conferences must seek out advertisers. Generally, they do a good job of procuring advertisers who fit the theme of the conference. Attenders benefit with lower registration costs, access to expertise, new product offerings, conference discounts, working relationships, and so on. Sponsors benefit with access to new client prospects, name brand exposure, attainment of sales goals, and so on. Yet, the two sometimes are at odds.
Certain attenders think there should be less advertising. But are they willing to pay that price? Are they willing to pay double the conference fees? Triple? More?
I personally am an advocate for the exhibitors and sponsors because I appreciate that they take time away from their businesses to show us in one setting the wide variety of products and services which are available. Plus I get to talk to them face-to-face, sample their products, learn from their expertise, engage in dialogue in the arena of ideas for future products, and nurture ongoing friendships. For me, this is invaluable.
My point? Let’s cut them some slack and appreciate them rather than complain about their advertisements in the general sessions.
My suggestion to advertisers? If the conference asks you to stay within a specific time frame, then please honor that wish. :) It will endear you to the directors, other exhibitors and to conference attenders who are deciding whether or not to patronize your businesses.