by Brenna Adkins , , November 22nd, 2023


When navigating the landscape of corporate culture,  the power of appreciation extends beyond mere acknowledgment. One powerful tool in a company’s arsenal to show gratitude for a job well done is an incentive trip. These types of trips boost morale, motivate employees, promote relationships, and reward team members for their hard work. But even these events can be enhanced with the addition of a well-crafted swag bag that will leave a lasting impression and transform your next incentive program.

With careful curation, you can transform your bags from mere tokens of gratitude to a testament to the value placed on the hard work and dedication of your employees. A thoughtful swag bag can transcend the boundaries of conventional gifting, turning your incentive trip into an experience that resonates with each participant on a personal level.

Whether you use gifting as a pre-event promotional tool or to remind your guests of their experience following the event, incentive travel stands out even more when you give your attendees something to hold on to. 

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Achieve Incentive Travel Goals with Swag Bags

Incentive travel is an excellent way to bring colleagues and teams together to show your appreciation for their work. In fact, according to Forbes, “employee engagement, productivity, and performance are 14% higher in organizations with recognition programs than those without.” But to truly show your appreciation, event gifts can go a long way with employees and help you create memorable, successful incentive trips. 

The recent Incentive Travel Index study found that 60% of respondents crave experiences that incorporate local culture and traditions into the event itinerary. So what better way to build excitement for those experiences and prepare guests than with a pre-event swag bag tying into that locale? 

Event gifts can also be excellent tokens of appreciation for your guests. You’re expressing gratitude on behalf of the company and generating positive experiences for your guests. In turn, they’re more engaged and loyal to your organization, resulting in increased retention.

Swag Bags as Promotional Tools for Incentive Travel Programs

When we think of swag bags, we often think of the gift attendees receive upon arrival at a corporate event, but there are various options to tap into. If you want to promote your trip, excite your attendees, and give a few hints regarding the fun activities they’ll experience, look no further than your swag bag!

While travel itself is exciting, adding gifts tied to the event can create even more buzz around the upcoming trip in no time. For example, if you’re planning a corporate event in Hawaii and a hiking excursion is on the itinerary, you might want to give your attendees a hiking backpack or a branded water bottle. Both items will get your attendees excited about the upcoming trip while also giving them something they’ll be able to use during their stay.

Alternatively, pre-event gifts can act as breadcrumbs to help build anticipation ahead of the trip. Before the destination is revealed, you could consider sending small items hinting at the location. Sunglasses and sunscreen can imply a warm location while wool gloves and a warm hat could allude to a colder place. 

How Swag Bags Enhance Incentive Travel Benefits

From activity-focused items to post-event mementos, swag bags can enhance the incentive trip at all stages of the program. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways that event gifting can improve the overall experience for attendees.

Generate Excitement

As we’ve mentioned, pre-event gifts increase excitement ahead of a large corporate event. A gift that incorporates the destination and caters to the appropriate audience will enhance anticipation for the event as the trip approaches. But ensure that you’re also thoughtful as you gift; personalizing items show you want your gifting to be unique. Even small personalizations, like a tote bag with an embroidered name, can elevate the swag. Receiving a personalized item will show your attendees that you’re happy to have them on the team, and this can spark enthusiasm for the trip. 

As you and your guests prepare for the incentive trip, reminders that the trip is approaching are helpful to ensure your guests are well prepared. And while sending out the occasional email to countdown is effective, you can send a gift as an even more memorable reminder that their trip is happening soon. 

For example, a pair of sunglasses will have your event guests ready for some needed sunshine. Alternatively, you could give your guests vouchers to use throughout the trip for activities and excursions. This can include vouchers to local restaurants or pre-paid gift cards to use at a spa or boutique. With vouchers, you’ll give your team the opportunity to choose items that they’re excited about.

Provide Useful Items

If not handled correctly (by a team of experienced event planners), travel can be stressful. While a portion of incentive travel is focused on business goals, it’s also important to ensure guests are enjoying themselves. Swag bags that include items intended to be used during the trip can help ease some of the stress attendees may experience. 

If an attendee doesn’t pack appropriately for a group activity, that doesn’t mean they should miss out. Instead, you can ensure all attendees are well prepared for activities by gifting them items that are useful during the trip. For instance, if your destination is a tropical location, make sure all guests have sunscreen or a beach towel. Alternatively, for trips to a colder climate, you might want to give everyone a travel mug or ear warmers – bonus points if it’s branded with the company logo.

Gifting items with an element of choice is also a great way to ensure your guests are happy with what they receive. For example, when your guests arrive at your destination, you could set up a table with various gifts, allowing participants to pick and choose from a variety of options. This way, they’ll grab something they love (or need) rather than receive items that won’t be useful to them. 

incentive gifts

Boost Branding

Name recognition goes a long way when it comes to growing a business. With branded swag bags, you give your participants items that reflect a unique experience they had with a company that’s meaningful to them. On top of that, rewarding employees with gifts during incentive travel creates positive associations with your organization. When branded gifts are used beyond the actual event, your guests promote your company while being reminded of the wonderful experience you created for them. 

Give Mementos

With unique travel experiences come lasting memories. Incentive travel gives your employees an opportunity to get to know their peers and experience a destination or culture, perhaps for the first time. But when you want your attendees to be reminded of the experience for years to come, make sure to consider memorable mementos. 

If you are trying to plan an unforgettable experience for your guests, incorporate keepsakes that they can take with them following the event’s conclusion. An event activation that promotes engagement and gives each attendee a gift to take home with them is an excellent way to give each person something personalized and memorable. This could be a booth where participants design their own personalized t-shirts or tote bags. Or you could set up a photo booth that prints photo strips with destination-related props for attendees to pose with.

These creative gifts are the perfect opportunity to give your participants a souvenir to remind them of their shared experiences from the trip. Additionally, unique post-event mementos, such as a photo album from the trip, can generate excitement about the next incentive trip. Showing your guests the highlights of their experiences in the form of a gift will give them something to look back on when the trip is over, and they’ll be reminded of what to look forward to.

3 Steps to Prepare Event Gifts for Incentive Travel

Now that we've established how swag bags can enhance incentive travel programs, here are a few steps to consider to help you get started with the planning process ahead of your next incentive travel event. 


One of the first steps in the swag bag planning process is to determine the budget. For this, you’ll need to consider the kind of swag you want to give attendees, the number of gifts needed, and when you intend to give them. For pre-event gifts, you’ll need to consider the additional costs required to ship each attendee their package. 

If you choose to create customized gifts, you’ll also need to consider the price of those customizations. If you need a large quantity of items, consider bulk-order options that provide better pricing than purchasing items individually. Keep in mind, a fee may be added to the order total if you choose to incorporate a brand logo.

Select Items

With a budget in place, consider what items you want to gift your event guests. To make the perfectly curated swag bag, there are a few things you’ll want to take into account. First, think about your audience. Who will be going on the trip? You don’t want to give your guests something that will just end up in the landfill later. Instead, pick items your specific group of attendees would like to receive. 

Additionally, you might want to consider event registration forms to help gather data on your attendees and inform your decisions. For example, prepping for active outdoor excursions when your attendees are more interested in cultural and dining experiences may not be your best bet. Asking questions about attendees' preferences and interests can not only help guide activities that occur during your program but can also help make informed selections when it comes to the gifts you give.

Next, you’ll want to consider the trip itself. Where is your event going to be? What activities will be included? If you give gifts that align with both the location and the planned activities, you can expect your guests to actually use the items, rather than throwing them out. 

branded swag bag


Once the contents are finalized, focus on the logistics of delivery. Opt for a convenient and centralized distribution point to streamline the process when possible. Ensure that every participant receives their bag effortlessly. If the trip involves multiple locations or activities, strategically plan the distribution to coincide with key itinerary points, making certain participants can fully enjoy and engage with their gifts. Ultimately, a well-executed delivery enhances the anticipation surrounding the trip and sets a positive tone for the entire event. 

As we’ve mentioned, your team might also choose to ship the swag bags to attendees before the event or distribute them out in the office. Alternatively, leaving the swag in hotel rooms could provide a warm welcome when guests arrive. Upon arrival, they are welcomed with a set of items they can use throughout the incentive travel experience. 

Another way to allow your attendees to receive swag is through your own gifting boutique. With this setup, you can create an entire shopping experience for your guests. This approach not only creates an enhanced delivery, but it also gives guests the freedom to select gifts based on their own preferences. By giving each attendee a certain amount of points toward purchase, you can then let them browse all of your gifting options, creating their own perfect, personalized bundle. 

In order to create swag bags that enhance guest experiences, you’ll want to carefully consider the event details and what your attendees are looking for in event-related gifts. To make this process easier, event planners who are experienced in incentive travel and customized swag bags can help you design the perfect gifts. 

As experienced corporate event planners, Bishop-McCann is here to help you create gifting experiences your attendees will love, and gifts they’ll use long after the incentive travel program has ended. Ready to pack your bags? Our incentive travel experts are – reach out to our team today!

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