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3 Ways to Give Your “Swag Bag” a Modern Edge

Swag bags need a serious glow up! Don’t get me wrong; I love a t-shirt sporting a snappy saying or a new vinyl sticker for my Hydro Flask. But let’s get real, most of these “goodies” end up in the hotel garbage can instead of stuffed into my already overweight suitcase for the return flight. And the stuff that does make it home ends up being given away to my coworkers or lands on the office bookshelf, destined to collect dust for eternity. It’s time for a change.

Here’s a radical suggestion: What if you eliminated your swag bags, gift bags, goody bags — whatever you call them — entirely, and instead offered a completely different attendee experience? Don’t worry; I’m not proposing that you leave people empty-handed. I’m talking about leveraging technology to streamline the gift-giving process and even empower participants to select the swag they really want. By doing so, odds are you’ll leave folks with positive memories of your event long after it’s through.

So scoot over, flimsy tote, and make way for these ideas:

1. Offer attendee experiences

Why not ditch the traditional, physical swag bag and try offering unique experiences instead? Not only will you increase your event’s sustainability by eliminating the bag’s environmental footprint, but  studies show that many attendees (Millennials in particular) value experiences over stuff. Some examples of brands that have gone in this direction include:

Event organizers are increasingly offering attendee experiences — like fitness classes — instead of traditional swag.

2. Go digital, get sustainable

As planners increasingly strive to improve their event sustainability efforts, digital swag bags are picking up in popularity. The virtual nature of these “bags” makes them cost-effective, easier to manage, and more measurable than the standard conference tote (not to mention a breeze for attendees to carry).

Trading in old-school bags for a mobile-friendly alternative allows event organizers to completely control the presentation of items — and even the strategic timing of their appearance. As an added perk, these digital bags can hold an unlimited number of “gifts,” and can be monetized and tracked back to value. Which means they’re the perfect promotional opportunity for your stable of sponsors. 

Virtual swag bag
Companies like ACTIVE Network facilitate virtual attendee swag bags that are accessible from a host of different devices.

There are a few companies dedicated to providing digital swag bag experiences. To start, check out ACTIVE Network and iGiftBag.

3. Let attendees choose

When it comes to swag, why not put the choice back into attendees’ hands? SaaStr did precisely that at SaaStr Annual by rewarding participants with “SaaStr Bucks” that were redeemable for exclusive gifts of their choice. Attendees could pick from more traditional items like branded coffee mugs, T-shirts and pint glasses, or select from specialty offerings including unicorn bouquets, leather technology kits and selfie sticks.

What’s more, with a little help from a mobile event app, you can reward attendee engagement and interactions. Use your app’s private social network, gamification features and attendee data platform to easily set up and track them. 

With a Leaderboard on your mobile event app’s private social network, you can gamify attendee interactions, then offer rewards for points.

Have ideas for event swag facelifts? Be sure to let us know by reaching out via our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. You might also enjoy the following articles that discuss how event tech is enhancing the attendee experience:

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