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5 Ideas for Swag Bag Items with Staying Power

While their assembly may may make event pros across the world groan, there’s no doubt that swag bags breed excitement in attendees. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff?

But as the meetings and events industry embraces a new era of sustainability, the environmental impact of these branded goodies also must be considered. After all, studies show that a 1,000-person, three-day event generates 5670 kg (12,500 lbs) of trash, and we know from experience that a large portion of swag items end up in landfills.

While many planners are considering a virtual approach to swag that eliminates much of this waste, for others traditional bags still make the most sense. If that’s your scenario, we encourage you to increase the “staying power” or your promos by focusing on items that bring the most value to your specific attendee base. Read on for five tips on a gifting strategy that goes the distance.

1. Nix the uber-cheap tote

You might think you’ve already got this one in the bag (sorry), but it’s essential to consider the quality of your tote if you expect it not to be the first thing attendees toss into the trash post-conference. Bags should be of higher quality and ready to withstand more than just a single trip to the grocery store. Drop a witty saying or image on them, and you’ve got a winner!

Backpacks also go a long way with attendees, provided you choose a style that has room for the average-sized laptop. The key with packs is to pick a neutral color (like black) and keep your brand’s logo minimal. Don’t forget to incorporate your event’s theme if there is one. For instance, the Walt Disney Company brought nostalgia (and possibly some nightmares) to guests when it made a fanny pack the swag bag for a 90’s themed event.

The Sami boho sling tote by ECOBAGS is made of recyclable natural cotton, and certified fair trade/fair labor.

2. Offer t-shirts that actually fit

Let’s face it, snagging a free event t-shirt is practically a rite of passage for event attendees. In fact, in a study conducted by ASI, a whopping 75 percent of them said they hold on to their logoed outerwear long after events are over. So leave a positive brand impression by passing out tees that hold up for more than one wash.

Ensuring your event team has the right amount and sizes of apparel is also important. You can easily automate this process by customizing your registration form to include a field for attendees’ t-shirt sizes. Don’t forget to order some extras just in case! Finally, give some serious thought to your design. You want the shirt to be fun, but still neutral enough that an attendee would feel comfortable wearing it to the grocery store.

This AppExchange attendee at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference was clearly jazzed about his tee.

3. Rev ’em up with a power bank

Truth: No one needs another USB drive. Unless yours is part of a SpaceX-Swiss-Army-Knife contraption, it will most likely end up haunting the bottom of someone’s backpack. So why not trade it out for an item with a little more juice?

A high-quality power bank with a multi-device cable is a clear winner. For example, when Balfour held their National Sales Meeting, they not only provided chargers, they turned their event lanyard into the cable. Now that’s brilliant!

Pro-tip: If you’re using a mobile event app, a travel charger is the gift that keeps on giving your attendees are literally and figuratively powered up to engage!

The 2-in-1 Lanyard & Charging Cable from Brand Makers.

4. Dork up your desk accessories

Pens and notepads tend to be go-to swag items. And while they’re undoubtedly useful, they’re a little bit snoozy. If your budget allows, why not swap out these old standbys for some more modern office supplies? The following items are not only handy, they score high on the coworker jealousy-inducing factor:

The Personal Library Kit from Knock Knock.

5. Give your swag a local flavor

When it comes to promotional gifts, sourcing local is a win-win-win: Your attendees will appreciate receiving items can’t they can’t find anywhere else, your community’s economy will benefit and you’ll walk away looking like a rockstar. Plus, you don’t have to drop a serious dime to give your swag bag a localized feel. Including a few product samples from local merchants, offering a free guide to the area, or even comping a couple of passes to a local tourist hotspot can make your attendees experience unique.

If we were hosting an event here in the AZ, we’d be sure to offer up some Cactus Candy from Scottsdale’s Sphinx Date Co.

Have fun ideas for swag bag items that leave a lasting impression? Let us know! Reach out to us via our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn channels.

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