How Events Within Events Add Value to B2B Experiences

May 23, 2019 | B2B B2C Trade Show

It’s no secret that the conference space has become crowded and competitive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In an effort to oust the competition, event marketers are dreaming up fresh ways to make their shows more attractive and more valuable to prospective attendees. Leading the way of late is the “events within events” approach, a strategy that is helping marketers simultaneously expand their audiences and deliver more targeted content. These micro-events take many shapes. Here’s a look at some of the most compelling—and effective—strategies being used today.

Exhibiting at an Owned Event

Organizing a trade show is a major undertaking in and of itself, but the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) ups the “events within events” ante by exhibiting at its own conference, CONEXPO-CON/AGG, an international trade show for the construction industries. In an effort to reposition itself as a company that is driving industry innovation, AEM produces the 75,000-square-foot Tech Experience at the show in an outdoor lot right under the Las Vegas monorail (hello, visibility). The experience is split into three zones that showcase the latest in manufacturing, from sustainable infrastructure to autonomous vehicles to connected jobsite wearables. To involve its audience, AEM sends out an “RFP” to exhibitors, allowing them to pitch why their company should be included in the Tech Experience. Rounding out the activation are tech talks by top technology brands. As for the results? AEM’s “events within events” approach generates more than 110,000 engagements throughout the week.

VIP Experiences

When it comes to designing events within events, a major way to build buzz (and revenue) is to offer a VIP experience within the larger event. At Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Life conference, attendees have the option to purchase a Diamond-level ticket, which gives them access to a VIP reception where they have the opportunity to rub shoulders with conference speakers. Then there’s the Broccoli City Festival (yes, it’s a thing), a conference on innovation that features an all-night art and music pop-up program that gives VIPs access to the main stage pit, dedicated bars and luxury bathrooms. And at Tony Robbins “Power of Success” events, attendees can purchase a Platinum-level ticket that provides access to a VIP luncheon, premium seating, a VIP entrance, a copy of Robbins’ latest book, and a photo with the author. Talk about events within events done right!


Hosting a pre-conference event that gives attendees the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the topics being covered at the main conference is another popular “events within events” strategy. It can also serve as a way to engage a more targeted audience, like the c-suite. Some shows, including the Women Deliver Conference, even offer multiple, topic-specific pre-conference events for hand-selected attendees that give them the chance to exchange best practices and learn from one another before taking on the main show. Similarly, ahead of its annual Summit, Adobe offers pre-conference training for an additional cost. Attendees can choose from a variety of training experiences that delve deeper into specific topics that are covered at the main conference, and often give them a competitive edge within their respective fields.

Embedded Master Classes

For its Sephora House of Beauty weekend, Sephora truly delivers on the “events within events” approach, creating an Instagram museum-style event with sampling, complimentary beauty services and entertainment. The experience also features a conference of sorts within the broader event that gives attendees the chance to attend master classes by celebrity hair and makeup stylists, and social media influencers. Not only do the beauty buffs in attendance get to learn from the best of the best, they have the opportunity to directly engage with some of their favorite personalities in the biz. As one attendee puts it, “I’m a huge skin care and hair care fan, personally, and I think it’s so cool that we're able to meet brand founders and hear about why they believe in their brand so much."

The ultimate goal of the “events within events” approach is to add value for attendees, so creating ancillary experiences just for the sake of having another touchpoint won’t cut it. Whether its content, access or another perk altogether you’re offering through supplementary events, ensuring that the underlying strategy benefits the audience is paramount.

Check out some of the top brand activations designed and produced by Sparks.

Posted by Dyan Cornacchio | Request as a Speaker

Social media and creative writing connoisseur. Obsessed with my golden retriever, pop culture, and pizza. Nothing makes me happier than being home on LI, relaxing at the beach with my family.