Longtime sponsors are the foundation of successful trade shows and events. However, becoming too comfortable with a partner relationship can lead to complacency. To maintain a sponsor’s active partnership, an event team must constantly work at communicating, understanding and meeting each sponsor’s expectations and designing new programs and opportunities. Sit down early in the event-planning process and hold candid conversations with each sponsor about their objectives for the event, and brainstorm new ways to market their brand. SmithBucklin divulges invigorating partnership ideas to consider for your next event: Lounge Around Offer the opportunity to sponsor an area where people can relax and network. At the Print Services and Distribution Association annual event, a paper manufacturing company sponsored a Rest and Refresh lounge filled with plush couches and electronics-charging stations. Staff members served refreshments in the lounge during show hours. The sponsorship also included two bars: a stationary bar in the reception area and a roving bar that served drinks and snacks to exhibitors who couldn’t leave their booths. To encourage more interaction, you can also set up games in between sessions, such as pingpong tables or cornhole boards branded with sponsor logos. Take a Coffee Break Brew up a fresh sponsorship idea with a sponsored on-site coffeehouse. Attendees can stop by to unwind and enjoy a cup o’ joe between sessions in a designated area created with comfortable seating, curtains and coffee mugs branded with the sponsor’s logo. For exhibitors unable to leave their booths, a portable cart wheeled around the trade show floor can serve coffee in branded cups. The sponsor can also give away small bags of specialty coffee beans with sponsor branding for attendees to take home. Wake Up to a Workout Whether it’s yoga or Zumba, a morning fitness class is a unique sponsorship opportunity that encourages attendees to de-stress before a long day. During the National Association Medical Staff Services’ annual event, one of the sponsors hosted a morning Zumba session on the beach in Hollywood, Florida. The sponsorship included signage at the session, mentions on the website and on-site marketing collateral. To tie in with the theme of relaxation, the sponsor gave away stress balls bearing its logo. This kind of sponsorship is especially popular with health care organizations. Sightseeing, Anyone? Hosting an excursion is a show-and-tell opportunity for a sponsor to promote its local connections. For example, during a small print distributors’ summit in Pittsburgh, a locally based sponsor shuttled attendees from the hotel to its property for a plant tour and gave away swag bags filled with western Pennsylvania-themed items, including a Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel, Eat’n Park smiley cookie and souvenirs from the hip Strip district. Another example involves a carbonated beverage company that combined an educational tour of its Atlanta plant with fun facts showcasing the sponsor’s positive impact on the city. And for the Assisted Living Federation of America’s Conference & Expo in Tampa, sponsors had the opportunity to host a morning or evening city experience, such as an evening brewery tour, city tour or electric boat rentals. Dave Merli, a manager in sales services at SmithBucklin, specializes in creating and developing partnerships with client organizations and key decision-makers in the vendor-buyer community. Contact him at email@example.com.