Event's 58% Sponsorship Increase Justifies Total Remake They Did

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Not only did the Craft and Hobby Association change their name to the Association for Creative Industries, but they also remade and rebranded their big event. The CHA MEGA Conference & Trade Show thus became Creativation.

"AFCI reimagined its tradeshow as a vibrant creative city—the capital of the creative arts industry—where industry professionals go to gain knowledge," wrote Samantha Whitehorne on AssociationsNow.

"One thing that inspired the neighborhood city theme is that our show is like a huge family reunion every year, so we wanted to create a place for them to come home to," said Andria LaJeunesse, vice president of events and education, told Trade Show News Network.

There's a lot to like about what AFCI did with this event, which took place last week. (The January 2018 Creativation website is already up.) Here are eight takeaways:

1. What's in a name? Plenty, if you can Google it and it's the first thing that comes up. Moving forward they now have a positive, vibrant, one-word title that everyone will associate with them. Creativation. As you can see by the photo here, it also looks good.

2. Just hit play. AFCI put together an excellent video titled 5 Tips You Need to Know Before You Go to Creativation. They used the newness of the event to say that, "It's everyone's first time at Creativation!" The tips, delivered by an excellent speaker, include download the app, pack comfortable shoes, bring business cards, and smile and say hello. Another video promotes their Ultimate Pitch Contest at the conference.

3. Play off the theme. Attendees hopped on and off the tradeshow shuttle bus after visiting the registration lobby train station and picking up their "tickets" (badges). From there, they could check out the show's 10 new feature areas, clustered around city streets and neighborhoods. Of course, not all of us have events that require shuttle buses, but their Main Street USA theme proved a good one to play off of.

4. The family reunion idea. This has always been a big draw for events—connecting with people you perhaps only see once a year. In 2014, Access Intelligence shifted to a networking-centric marketing approach for its CLEAN GULF conference and revenue increased by 26%. (Check out this video.) Attendees said the event was "like a family reunion" or a "chance to catch up with old friends," wrote Carey Buchholtz, senior marketing manager for Access Intelligence, in a 2015 SIPAward entry description. (The entry won an award in the category of Live Event Marketing.) "CLEAN GULF attendees covet the opportunity to get together once a year to catch up and discuss best practices."

5. Highlight innovations. Their Innovations Center allowed attendees to discover never-before seen ideas, trends, methods, techniques and devices through new hands-on and interactive displays. "Meet 25 innovators who created, designed or made a revolutionary, mold-breaking innovation." And they had a sponsor for this area.

6. Emphasize the experiential. I wrote about the value of the experiential earlier this year. "We've seen a lot of changes in our retail landscape," said LaJeunesse, "[and] we determined that one of the ways we could help our members understand those changes was to completely redesign our annual conference and tradeshow from the ground up—creating an entire experience where industries can come to learn, connect, and discover."

7. "New" may draw more attendees and sponsors. While remaking an event is not easy, it could be a good way for a company to respond to changes both in the industry and among its subscribers/members. "It could also draw more sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees with its 'new factor,' particularly if there's no one else out there serving the same need," Whitehorne added. The show's sponsorship grew 58% from the previous year.

8. Try some shorter-timed sessions. Another popular area was called Maker Space. Participants could use and experiment with state-of-the-art equipment and crafting tools. Attendees could also stop by iDiscover chats, 15-minute lessons presented by business and social media experts

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…