Major Healthcare Conference Shares How They Manage Transportation for 45,000+ Attendees, Leverage Shuttles for Sponsorship Opportunities, and Build Brand Experiences On Their Buses
HIMSS’ Virginia Geoghegan and Beth Faubel Outline What It Takes to Create a Successful Transportation Program for Their Annual Meeting
Each year, the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition brings together 45,000+ health information and technology professionals, clinicians, executives and market suppliers from around the world. Exceptional education, world-class speakers, cutting-edge products and powerful networking are hallmarks of this industry-leading conference.
This year, the conference was held in Orlando, FL and featured over 45,000 attendees, 17 shuttle routes, full shuttle graphics, video playing on the majority of buses, and over 100 buses during peak times.
Virginia Geoghegan is HIMSS Senior Exhibits Manager and Beth Faubel is HIMSS Senior Meeting Services Manager. We sat down with them to learn how they handle transportation management, sponsorship, and more at this world-class conference.
Create Sponsorship Packages That Are Easy to Buy and Add Lots of Value
HIMSS used to offer multiple options for sponsored shuttle graphics, and sold each as standalone items. Some were interior, like window clings and video ads, and primarily targeted shuttle riders travelling to and from the convention center each day. Others, such as bus wraps, were exterior and would be seen by both riders and anyone passing by the shuttle.
Geoghegan realized that many sponsors ended up purchasing both interior and exterior options. She decided to make it easier on sponsors by bundling the options together into one package.
“Everybody loves a bundled package – they feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck,” says Geoghegan.
She adds that shuttle buses are a great place to build value for exhibitors and sponsors.
“When you’re doing a bus wrap it is being exposed not just to the attendees that are on the bus going from the hotel to the convention center, but also to the outside world.”
Since HIMSS rotates between Orlando, Las Vegas, and Chicago, these are prime opportunities to get eyes on sponsor products around each city.
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Learn how to generate more revenue by:
- Creating unique ad opportunities for sponsors
- Making it easy for partners to purchase sponsor opportunities
- Developing a sales strategy that works
- Communicating return on investment (ROI) clearly to sponsors
Lisa Lanna, Managing Director of Newsday Communications, the sponsorship division of Event Transportation Systems (ETS), says, “The bus wraps we created for HIMSS are a moving billboard for exhibiting sponsors that reach a wider audience in whichever city the conference is being held.”
For HIMSS, these sponsorships are more about giving their sponsors great advertising opportunities than generating revenue. Geoghegan says that there is revenue gained from sponsorship sales, but that does not include the cost to produce graphic clings and hire the shuttle fleet. The important thing is that her sponsors get great visibility at the conference.
Geoghegan also has a simple sales technique for anyone who wants to sell more transportation sponsorships:
“Exhibitors want to know ROI on sponsorships. They really want to see how many people rode the bus. They thrive on that number. Anything we can give sales as a data point, or anything that has numbers in it, they love that because that’s what the exhibitors want to see.”
Ultimately, Geoghegan’s package approach created more sponsor interest and success in sales.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected Because Moving People Isn’t Always Easy
Another advantage of rotating between the same three cities each year is that there is little change in logistics when the show returns to a city. Using the same venue, hotels that are familiar with the conference, and similar bus routes help create and maintain efficiencies for planners.
“The advantage of using the same transportation company year after year,” says Faubel, “is that they start to understand your show and understand exactly what your ridership is going to be and when your ridership is going to be.”
Faubel points out there are small changes though:
“Each year we change the schedule, different things are happening at different times so you obviously have to adjust to that. Overall the biggest challenge with getting people from point A to point B is how far a lot of things are from the convention center. It’s the traffic and outside factors that affect transportation most.”
One of the biggest challenges at HIMSS this year was the unexpected amount of rideshare drivers in the area. To Faubel, rideshare traffic is a double-edged sword:
“The impact of Uber & Lyft has been tremendous. Positively, it’s allowing people to get in and out of the convention center in their own time. On the flipside all the Ubers & Lyfts this year impacted traffic around the convention center.”
Traffic isn’t the only thing that rideshare is impacting. We put together a report on the environmental impact of ridesharing compared to using shuttles at your conference. You won’t believe the results. Download the full report here.
We pulled data from the Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Energy to learn:
- Whether ride-sharing cars or shuttle buses are more eco-friendly for conferences
- The average percentage of emissions reduction by promoting shuttle buses
- Total CO2 emissions per passenger-mile for the 3 most popular methods of event transportation
She says this is precisely why working with a transportation management company is essential.
“The benefit of working with a transportation management company is that they have knowledge of the transportation patterns in each city. Eric Hotard, who is the owner of ETS, he knows Orlando. He understands the roads, the direction of traffic. It’s difficult to estimate the impact of the traffic at your show, and the transportation company can only be as effective as traffic management in the city, but ETS is instrumental.”
Use Transportation to Deliver Unforgettable Brand Experiences
Faubel and Geoghegan also stress the importance of incorporating your own brand into the transportation experience. Toward the end of the conference HIMSS gave attendees a first-look at the new logo they’ll be rolling out over the next year.
Geoghegan worked with Newsday Communication’s Lisa Lanna to make sure the new logo was revealed on the shuttle buses returning attendees to the airport at the end of the conference.
“Once we launched the new logo on that Friday, Lisa played the new video on the buses that she helped us create. Instead of having our old logo that they saw Monday through Thursday, the new one was up front and center as the last interaction they had with our brand at the conference.”
HIMSS Achieves the Trifecta of a Successful Transportation Program
Ultimately, through the work of both Faubel and Geoghegan, HIMSS is able to pull together a transportation program that checks all the boxes. They deliver valuable sponsorships to exhibitors, serve up plenty of options to attendees, and incorporate their own brand into the transportation experience in unique, but memorable ways.
Here’s what you get with the template:
- An easy-to-fill-out RFP template for event transportation
- A sample transportation schedule
- Important questions about how transportation vendors will manage fleet and staffing needs
- Ways to vet vendor experience and breadth of services
About HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition
HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition brings together 45,000+ health information and technology professionals, clinicians, executives and market suppliers from around the world. Exceptional education, world-class speakers, cutting-edge products and powerful networking are hallmarks of this industry-leading conference. For more information visit www.himssconference.org.
About Event Transportation Systems
Meeting, conference and event planners know where to go when they need reliable, customized ground transportation services across North America—Event Transportation Systems (ETS). With more than 35 years of experience in providing customized solutions, ETS goes where you go. For more information, visit www.eventtrans.com.