I had a chance to poke my head into the 2011 CMS Expo Learning and Business Conference this morning at the Hotel Orrington in Evanston, IL, north of Chicago.
It was cool to see the conference organizers using the space in unique and creative ways ensuring that the attendees would see the exhibitors and sponsors that are their bread and butter.
Typically, the sponsors and exhibitors would be given their own room, space or hall to share their wares, knowledge, and expertise. While an effective use of space, many conference, and meeting planners can tell you from experience that getting attendees into these spaces can be a bit of a hassle that usually takes bribes of food and booze.
At the CMS Expo, the organizers opted to place the exhibitors and sponsors in the hallway outside of the session rooms ensuring that the attendees would be forced to interact (or at least see) all of the conference supporters in their journeys to and from learning and education. Throw in a few breaks out in the hallway and BAM, you have increased interaction that sponsors and exhibitors will really appreciate and notice.
Here is a picture of what they were able to do with the space (note – the picture was taken on the last day while sessions were taking place so there is a reason that the crowd looks light, all of the sponsors that I spoke with thought that the event was an amazing success and would be happy to sign on again).