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Make Offsite Events Memorable with Promotional Products

Make Offsite Events Memorable
Using promotional products to support offsite events

Invitations. Catering. Speaker selection. Audio-visual equipment. Power Point presentations. Handouts. If you're charged with planning a company offsite sales meeting, conference or incentive travel trip, it's likely these responsibilities fall on your "to do" list. And while you may have mastered how to orchestrate a well-executed event, it's possible you're overlooking an opportunity to create excitement. How? By making attendees' overall experience more memorable with pre-, at- or post-event promotional gifts.

So many choices…
Have you ever been on vacation and wrestled with choosing a souvenir before heading home? Maybe you liked the brightly-colored t-shirt emblazoned with a destination's name. Or the framed photograph of the beach where you lolled away for hours. Then again, can anyone pass up the chance to add to their mug collection?

Prepare yourself: Selecting promotional gifts for attendees of your next event will be even harder than choosing a vacation memento for yourself. The reason? More than 600,000 promotional (imprintable) products are available in the marketplace. Your search will yield countless products appropriate for your audience.

According to Mitch Silver, Printable Promotions Director of Marketing, it's critical to define your target audience, objective, budget per product and total budget before beginning the process of searching for promotional gifts. "Only when we're armed with this information can we suggest a suitable collection of products and creative ways of presenting them," explains Silver. "It's especially critical for us to know the total budget, because clients don't always remember that mailing, shipping and setup charges need to be factored into each promotional program."

Get Attendees Pumped
Whether your event is being held for participants who opt to attend or employees who are required to participate, you'll have many factors to consider (besides budget) when selecting a pre-event gift designed to excite your audience. For example:
  • Is the destination a tropical climate? Send participants an imprinted bottle of suntan lotion and a Hawaiian Hula Girl stress reliever.

  • Are employees eager to attend the event? Place an imprinted countdown clock on their desks (after hours) reflecting the days remaining until the event kicks off.

  • Will attendees bring their family to the meeting or conference? If so, think about a gift designed for the family's use (e.g., a deck of playing cards, an oversized beach towel, a one-time use camera).

  • Would your company benefit from added exposure to consumers? If so, consider a gift that's certain to be seen when participants travel, such as luggage tags or a travel bag. If your event will be held overseas, a debossed leather passport holder will be much appreciated.

  • Are you holding your meeting in a new destination? A guidebook, map or coffee table book about the destination, accompanied by a bookmark or bookplate, will often excite attendees.
Be sure to include a "romance" card or letter with the gift explaining why you've selected this product. You may even wish to allude to the additional promotional gifts that await participants once they reach the meeting site.

Wow Them On Site
Have you ever noticed how there are more empty chairs at afternoon sessions? To remind your audience that you appreciate their involvement - especially when a lush golf course or sparkling swimming pool is nearby -- plan to periodically surprise them with at-event thank-you gifts. Here are a few opportunities to earn some favorable remarks:
  • When guests register for their first meeting, present them with a welcome letter and product (or collection of products) they can use during the event (e.g., pen, notepad, portfolio, Post-it notes)

  • When guests register at their hotel, arrange for an in-room gift to be waiting (e.g., snacks, prepaid phone card to call home, a travel clock/radio, a kit of toiletries, flip flops, a sun visor)

  • During an afternoon break, provide a "wake-up" gift (e.g., bottles of water, imprinted snack bags or mint tins)

  • At the final session of the program, pass out a gift the recipient will use back at the office (e.g., a desk clock, calendar, organizer or an imprinted USB pen drive with your presentations on it)
You may also want to consider giving out random prize drawings of high-end gifts such as wearables. Have you ever noticed how many business travelers sport logoed attire? Present participants with a jacket or shirt decorated with your company logo and it's likely they'll proudly wear it on their way home (and for years to come).

Two caveats as you consider the possibilities: One, make certain that your promotional selections aren't cumbersome; if they won't easily fit into a suitcase, chances are they'll be left behind. (We know of an event planner who thought miniature spotlights were the perfect giveaway for a formal dinner with a Hollywood theme -- until she was stuck with more than 200 spotlights!) And, two, don't give a gift that won't make it past airport security. Wine corkscrews were once a popular at-event gift; today, if these items are found in a carry-on bag, they will be confiscated.

A Lasting Impression
Let's assume your company conference is top-notch and attendees depart with a clearer understanding of how your organization can help achieve their goals. Equally important, however, is how attendees feel about the event after they return home.

A "thank you for your participation" letter, accompanied by a post-event survey and a promotional gift designed to commemorate the trip (e.g., a picture frame showcasing the destination with a photograph taken at the event) will send a strong message about management's appreciation of its family of employees. And if you want attendees to approach the next event with gusto, be sure you take advantage of the final opportunity to remind them of the value of this event.

Sidebar - Check out this incredible at-event promotion! At a recent conference held at a hotel, one of our clients arranged to have the housekeeping staff use pillowcases imprinted with the conference agenda in attendees' rooms. What made the promotion even more unusual, however, was the second message imprinted on the pillowcase. It read, "Sleep tonight, focus tomorrow" and it was only visible in the dark!

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