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What’s in Your Swag Bag? (And why the attendee probably doesn’t want it)

Gone are the days of the bursting at the seams swag bags, overflowing with as much plastic as you can possibly imagine. The landscape has changed, and as event professionals, it's crucial to listen and adapt to the needs and desires of event attendees. 

Today’s event attendees are more informed on the impact waste can have on our environment and would prefer not to receive a bag full of items that will inevitably end up in the garbage. In this blog, we’ll explore some swag bag options,

the good vs the bad, and some considerations for your next event. 

So… What are the options?

The first and easiest is to get rid of swag altogether. It saves cost, time, and often streamlines the registration process. While this sounds easy, due to sponsor commitments it may not always be an option.

If you are planning swag bags, consider quality over quantity. One to two high-quality, locally produced items are going to be much more appealing than several cheaper options that aren’t overly practical or are repetitive.

Another option is to allow attendees to select their swag in advance. You can build this selection into your registration process and by utilizing drop-shipping resources, you can easily incorporate direct shipping to attendees, making it an option for virtual events, as well. This also allows you to order exact numbers. If people don’t want it then they are not obliged to take it.  You might even like to consider adding a true eco option of a donation to a “green” charity in place of the swag. 

Swag: The Good Versus The Bad 

Bad swag is worse than no swag, both from an attendee and sponsor point of view. Attendees don’t want to be forced to dispose of items they don’t want, and from a sponsor perspective, nothing gives a terrible impression more than a trash can overflowing with one company’s marketing material!

Good swag is useful: Anything which will be used is good. Classic items, like pens, will never go out of fashion, but they need to be high quality and serve their purpose. There is nothing more frustrating than a pen that doesn’t work.

Good swag lasts: It should at least outlast the conference if nothing else. You want it to stick around so that the branding gets seen by as many people as possible.

Good swag is relevant: It should relate to the company, service or event function. This is where you can use your imagination.

Good swag is original: Most of your attendees have cupboards overflowing with mugs, water bottles and coffee cups. They don’t want another.

Some examples of swag to consider:

  • Charging ports and cables

  • Pens with more than one function (pen with highlighter, a pen with pencil, multicolour pen, etc.)

  • Umbrellas

  • USB keys/thumb drives

  • Water bottles with built-in trackers

  • Thermoses for soup with spoons built into the lid

  • Unique local products 

Get your swag right and you’ll make both your sponsors and attendees much happier.



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