So we just wrapped our first trifecta year of major events between: SaaStr Annual in SF Bay Area, Europa in London, and APAC in Singapore.
Earlier this year, we shared how the big theme from a Sponsorships perspective leads from SaaStr Europa 2023 were up 153% from 2022. So, we took a lot of the learnings from London and amplified them 10x for the much larger SaaStr Annual.
- We hosted more than 10K attendees across 3+ days
- Indoor/ outdoor festival style
- 25,000 attendee connections were made
- 3,200 hours of workshops and braindates hosted
- 289 speakers, 52% women, 53% less represented
- 159 sponsors
- 213 zipline rides
- We had attendees from over 100+ different countries(!)
- And 1 Big Party with Cheat Codes and Anabel Englund
But much more than that, we dig into the data even more to uncover the latest event trends prevalent at SaaStr:
First, on the attendee side, 34% of attendees attended as a team.
So who’s coming with?
With the overall trend of budget scrutiny and more oversight on spend, it may come as no surprise that the data shows that most folks who came as a team brought their:
- and CRO
in that order of popularity.
Second, we’ve been hosting GBU (Good, Bad, Ugly) calls with each of our 2023 SaaStr Annual Sponsors, and most were anecdotally giving us the feedback that the quality of leads year over year seemed higher than last year. So of course, we had to run the numbers to see what changed:
the percentage of attendees attending SaaStr at a VP level and above rose to 56%.
Our core audience also remained strong with:
- 34% CEO / Founder
- 36% Sales / Marketing / CS
- 14% CXOs
- 8% Product / Ops
- 8% Investors
It was also the second year in a row we experimented with what we call Customer Fast Passes for Sponsors – IE, we worked with some of our top partners to bring their best customers (& prospects) to this year’s event as their guests. We doubled the number of Customers that came YOY, as well of the quality of the attendees, so we’ll double-down on this for next year’s event.
Transitioning into Sponsor stats, here’s what we found:
Huge learning when it came to sponsors: Sponsors with an activation had 60% more leads than those without.
You may be wondering with that much of a difference why some Sponsors had/ didn’t have activations.
A bit of anecdotal context:
Activations are a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to budget.
- First, you need a big enough booth to have an activation (this piece can be budget constraining), and then depending on what activation you choose, will determine how much additional budget will be spent to bring in (and in some cases) staff the activation. So even though you can potentially more than double the leads, and ROI, which leads to more business, it’s not always that simple to justify the budget beforehand.
- Second, there are a lot of rules and regulations to follow to bring in an activation. While we try and make it easier for sponsors and manage all the various union, health inspector, County, Fire Marshall, and venue rules – it can be a bit overwhelming to navigate and manage. While we did source about 75% of the activations that were used this year, and will try to make it easier to navigate going forward – this is a lot of pre-event time and planning. So again, can lead to more hours for your team (or billable hours for your agency) and wouldn’t make sense budget-wise.
- Lastly, your idea simply may not be allowed. We try to encourage and accommodate as many activations as possible since so many Sponsors told us ROI and pure lead numbers are their #1KPI for events like SaaStr – but at the end of the day, some activation ideas are straight-up banned by one entity or another that we’re beholden to.
And not every activation has to be food. While many were, the most popular one wasn’t.
Our top-tier sponsorship for this year was our Unicorn Sponsorship for Expensify. And while they had multiple activations (including their own bar in their double-decker booth), the hit of the event was their Lunch receipt activation. Essentially, as attendees received their lunch during the Annual, they were handed a receipt with their order (even though lunch was technically) included in the full conference pass.
It looked like a real receipt and attendees were also prompted (through signage and human directionals) to scan their receipt for $20 back when they “expensed” lunch on the New Expensify app. And while the receipts were handed out in various places around the campus, it led to a natural surge of attendees each day going to the Expensify booth to talk about their lunch receipts.
In the end:
- While the broader results are still coming in, we suspect already for this to have been the highest NPS of any SaaStr event based on the overwhelmingly positive amount of posts across Linkedin, X, and the like about attending this year.
- Attendees came from 100 different international countries with their teams this time, re-inforcing that not only is buyer and scrutiny up, but also that events like SaaStr have became a key touchpoint in a still vastly distributed world of SaaS
- ROI is top of mind for events like SaaStr – and most Sponsors have stepped up their creativity when it comes to getting the attention of those in attendance and finding ways to connect with them that create natural demand for their products and services