One of the principles behind organising Úll was that we didn’t want sponsor booths: we don’t like the idea of selling directly to attendees. To us, a conference should be first and foremost centred around the attendee experience.
The theory goes: if a product or a service is interesting or exciting enough, people will want to use it: it shouldn’t be about being sold to through bright banners, or being caught in a net in a sea of marketing.
There is something fun about wandering about sponsor booths though: the random chance encounters, the “choose your own adventure” format of flitting from booth to booth, and always the hope of discovering something exciting.
Attempting to draw on those positive aspects, we introduced a new format last year, combining the ambient delight that can be found in sponsor booths, with the inspiration, empowerment and education associated with talk sessions.
Building on that this year, we want to run an experiment:
What does the best sponsor booth in the world look like?
We’re looking for a handful of sponsors who would be willing to help us answer this question. In exchange for an entry fee in the form of sponsorship, we will assign an area of the hotel to you to build or construct or conceive an installation that will inspire, empower or teach our attendees something new. Rather than feeling sold to, they should leave feeling like they want to do their job better, or that they’ve learned a new approach, or that they feel creatively inspired.
We want to raise the bar of what connecting with an audience actually means.
We’ll offer our attendees the opportunity to vote for their favourite sponsor room, and if we get enough interest, we’ll be producing a mini-documentary about the competition.
If we don’t get enough entries, we won’t run the competition, but we think this is a fantastic opportunity to really engage folks, to have some fun, and to see if we can collectively change what it means to “run a booth” at a conference.
If you’d like to enter, please send your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.