The holidays are here. In addition to buying gifts for loved ones, it's a good time for meeting planners to reassess which gifts they'll pair with events scheduled for the new year.
For virtual gatherings in particular, event swag can be an effective way to build excitement pre-event, increase day-of attendance and drive further engagement after the meeting ends. But it must be done correctly.
"Oftentimes with corporate gifting, we put things in front of attendees at events with the assumption that it's going to be something they put on their desks or keep in the office that will stand out and make them remember the event," said Benish Shah, chief growth officer at Loop & Tie, a corporate-gifting platform. "But more often than not, it ends up on the free table at work or even in the trash. There's a lot of room for companies to enhance their event swag and improve engagement."
Below are four tips for revamping your event-swag strategy to select more memorable gifts that meeting participants will truly appreciate.
Let Attendees Choose
No one wants another T-shirt, tote bag or tumbler. Rather than gifting items that will end up hidden away in a closet, or more likely in the trash, consider allowing attendees to choose which objects they'd like to receive.
Loop & Tie, for example, offers a variety of gift options. The rotating collection includes wellness, travel and home-goods items, ranging from spa sets to DIY gin-infusion kits. Handing over the reins to the attendees ensures event companies aren't spending money on gadgets their participants either already have or don't want, and instead allows them to select an item that they'll actually use and love.
"One of the options on our site right now is this really beautiful golden cheese grater. It's one of those things that your friend would give you or that you would buy for yourself," said Shah. "When you give someone the opportunity to pick what they want, they do think of you every time they see it. It's a good way of becoming part of the micromoments in the recipient's life."
Eco-friendly has become a priority in the meetings industry. In a recent report, the IMEX Group called for a paradigm shift, and urged planners to rethink every aspect of their events. Industry professionals should look for options to eliminate waste, decrease their carbon footprints and support a circular economy wherever possible, including via gifts.
Even small changes to swag bags can have a significant environmental impact. Eco-conscious planners should provide options that are sourced sustainably and made from recycled materials. Examples include plant pots and seeds, candles made from recycled wine bottles and sunglasses crafted from recycled water bottles and natural bamboo.
Work With Diverse Vendors
In addition to sustainability, diversity has also become a top focus in the industry. One way event organizers can show their support and help raise funds for important causes such as the Black Lives Matter movement is through corporate gifting.
Loop & Tie partners with more than 400 small retailers and Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) creators. Shah recommends that planners seek out similar partnerships with Black-owned businesses and minority vendors. She notes that these partnerships have become all the more important during the pandemic, when small businesses are the ones most in danger of closing. Small retailers are also likely to provide more unique gifts.
Include a Donation Option
No matter which gifts an event organizer offers, it's always a good idea to also offer some charitable alternatives. This could include items where a portion of the profits are donated, or allowing attendees to donate the entire value of their gift to the nonprofit organization of their choice. According to Shah, 8 to 10 percent of Loop & Tie users opt to donate their gift value to organizations such as Charity Water, She's the First, Mothers2Mothers and others.
"The way we do gifting is essentially no-waste gifting, because there is no item sent out that somebody doesn't want. When attendees select a gift, it's going to be something that they actually want, or they're going to donate the amount to charity," said Shah. "And when you add the charity option, it's really interesting because you get to see what causes your recipients care about."