by Brenna Adkins , , , November 03rd, 2021

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goodie bag
At nearly every televised award show, celebrities receive bags filled with amazing swag that, no doubt, leave viewers filled with envy.  The good news is that when you host your next conference, you can inspire that same feeling in your attendees. Conference goodie bags can be one of the highlights of a corporate event, and now with virtual and hybrid events,  the lasting memory you leave via the gifting component is even more important. 

The conference gift bags at industry events should be full of possibility, not disappointment. If they’re done right, they’ll improve the overall impression of your corporate event and brand, and if not, they’ll likely be unceremoniously dumped—along with any lasting impression you hoped to build.

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The Purpose of Conference Gift Bags

Along with creating a good impression, conference goodie bags have several benefits. Goodie bag items remind each attendee of the experience and can be conversation starters for the brands you want to promote (yours, your sponsors, or your partners). If you choose the items wisely, you can set those brands apart from their competitors.

Additionally, for virtual attendees, a gift arriving at their door is a fantastic way to build anticipation for the actual event and create a connection. With in-person attendees, a table full of gifts builds excitement and creates a visually pleasing display. Gift bags significantly improve the overall experience in the eyes of attendees and leave a lasting impression.

conference, goodie bags, items, brands

What Are Conference Attendees Looking for in a Conference Swag Bag?

While attendees are often excited about goodie bags, their hopes and excitement can be dampened if the contents of the bag don’t deliver. This doesn’t always mean spending a lot to fill the bags, though the cost of items in the bag should be commensurate with the event. However, it also doesn’t mean filling the bag to the brim with low-cost items either. Striking the right balance is important, but what’s more important is understanding what event and conference attendees are looking for in a gift bag.

In general, bags should contain items event attendees either want, need, or (even better) both. So, the first element of putting together a goodie bag that doesn’t end up being tossed is to understand your audience, your event, and if applicable, your venue. With those things in mind, you can tailor your gift bags to include items that are connected to the event itself. For example, let’s say you hold an event at a winery in the Finger Lakes of NY. A great gift to include would be a wine key/opener or a wine glass. This gift is appropriate for the venue and can be used later, too.

In short, attendees want:

  • Well-made and designed apparel or clothing
  • Electronics or accessories
  • Gadgets and tools 
  • Snacks or treats (sweet and savory)
  • Travel accessories
  • Gift cards
  • Beverages or beverage accessories
  • Luxury spa items or toiletries (be careful with scent selections)

In general, attendees do not want:

  • Cheap plastic or low-quality items
  • Items that create travel issues (airport security or too large to pack) 
  • Items useful only at the conference
  • Coupons
  • Food or beverage gifts that can melt, be messy, or leak
  • Magazines 
  • Heavily scented items

Again, every event and audience will have different wants and needs, and all items in goodie bags should reflect that. That means that while an item is a perfect fit for one event and audience, it may not be so great for another.

One excellent way to put together a goodie bag of items your attendees want is to use a theme. Much like event themes, swag bag “themes” can tie all the items together, making the gift feel cohesive and complete. And if you can tie the bag theme to the event or venue, even better!

conference, goodie bags, items, brands

5 Ideas for Conference Swag and Goodie Bags Your Attendees Will Love

One way to ensure you create a lasting impression is to try to slip into the shoes of the people attending your conference. Ask yourself what you’d like to see in a swag bag, how you can use the gift bags to make your event even more relevant, and what small but significant changes you can make that will have a big impact.

The Tech Bag

Forget the flash drives and branded pens. In the days of smartphones and cloud storage, the value of these items has decreased significantly. When an event is high-tech, attendees expect the same in a goodie bag. Branded phone chargers, headphones, portable power banks, or travel chargers are great tangible items to include in your conference goodie bag. You can also  consider smartphone screen magnifiers or virtual gifts to keep the weight down—e-gift cards, apps, and online game access are all fantastic ideas. They’re light, useful, and fun.

The Survival Bag

The goal with this bag is to acknowledge that conferences can be taxing, especially if you’re traveling to attend. Consider a bamboo toothbrush (I can’t count the times I’ve left mine at home as I dash to a work event) or travel-size toiletry items that can be used and taken home on a plane. Sleep masks, neck pillows, earplugs, and travel-size tea kits are thoughtful items that will make your attendees feel special, as well as help them rest to get the most from your event. For those virtual attendees, don’t be afraid to include a few office-related items in your conference event bag—Moleskin notepads can easily be branded and are one of the most popular items for note-taking, even in our digital age.

The Seasonal Bag

We’re not talking fruit and veggies here, although unique food items like gummy bears go over well! If your event is in the summer, consider microfiber sports towels, beach towels,  flip-flops, sunglasses, sunscreen, and baseball caps. Winter events can offer gourmet hot chocolates, umbrellas, scarves, gloves,  earmuffs, and clothing. A simple tee with cool designs or quotes and a logo gives your company exposure well beyond your corporate event.

The Spa Bag

Whether your event includes periods intended for relaxation or whether you hope your attendees will relax and unwind once at home, a goodie bag filled with ways for guests to pamper themselves can be an amazing treat. Consider bath bombs or salts, exfoliators, luxury soaps, face and foot masks, body scrubs and sponges, and perhaps even a gift certificate for a massage at the hotel spa. Encouraging your guests to practice self-care can leave a lasting positive impression, but remember to go easy on heavy scents and consider some unscented options!

The Cozy Bag

Whether it’s a winter event or a cooler climate, imagine your guests' delight when they retire for the night with a mug, herbal tea or hot cocoa, honey, tea biscuits, chocolate, comfy socks, a small candle, and a cozy throw blanket. Even if you just want to promote coziness in general for your attendees, you really can’t go wrong with making life more comfortable for them. Your guests will continue to curl up with your gifts well after your event.

If you’re planning a corporate event and want to be remembered for all the right reasons, think outside the box. Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes when imagining conference event bag ideas. With a little imagination, creativity, and thought, you’ll be giving away swag that creates a lasting impression.

If you’re looking for a partner to help you plan your event and design amazing swag bags, get in touch with the Bishop-McCann team today, and let us wow your attendees!

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