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Mariela McIlwraith, President of Meeting Change

Mariela McIlwraith, President of Meeting Change

One of the many objectives associations want to accomplish by hosting events is increased revenue. This is a no-brainer, really. Because if you are not increasing your revenue through hosting the event, then you will not be able to sustain hosting that event for very long.

Recently, I attended an MPI Washington State Chapter training about increasing revenue for events with speaker Mariela McIlwraith, MBA, President of Meeting Change.

Here are some valuable takeaways:


  • Sell pre-con or post-con sponsored sessions – your organization promotes the session and collects registrations, while sponsor plans and presents educational content and gets to promote their products at the same time. (Like a product theaters for non-medical groups! Hello, NDOA conferences)
  • Sell naming rights to wi-fi login code. Imagine the satisfaction sponsors would get out of having attendees to type in their company name to get access to internet!
  • Add social media mentions to benefit packages.
  • Add an online “marketplace” where sponsors/exhibitors offer special deals just for attendees. Send an eblast/link to attendees only.
  • Hotel reservation splash page – ask hotels if you can customize page and add a sponsor logo and link.
  • Have a special registration discount “provided by” a sponsor – get the sponsor to pay for the value of the discount.
  • Give sponsors an extra benefit for signing up by a certain date (like an early attendee list, or special mention in an eblast).
  • Get sponsors to promote registration for event – even set up a discount code (use the sponsor name) for them to send to their clients to use during registration.

Extending early bird tells people the wrong message – that there is little interest from the community to attend, you don’t have enough attendees and it’s not going to be a good event. DO NOT EXTEND EARLY BIRD DEADLINES!


  • Tell them it’s filling up fast! People are leaping and jumping to see the speaker and meet their colleagues at the spectacular meeting! Snap up your registration before it’s too late!
  • Have a limited number of discounted early registrations – first XX amount of registrants get $XX off of their tickets.
  • Everyone wants to be a VIP. Reserve premium seating at trainings for early registrants.
  • Change the experience so attendees are part of the event and get value as soon as they register…hint at this during registration, “With your registration, you will get access to (a handout from a speaker? A online discussion group with attendees? A mobile event app?)”

Hotel Contracts:

  • Negotiate special Student rate at hotel, or multiple rates for different types of registrants.
  • For contracts that are set years in advance – choose two different weeks or date patterns that will work and allow hotel to confirm the final dates 1 year in advance – allows them more flexibility, and they may give additional concessions for this.

Last tip:
Ask for whole fruit along with bread baskets on luncheon tables at no additional expense. Because people should have access to healthy brain food.

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That’s me on the right, listening attentively