by Deanna Ting | May 26, 2015



5. Don't Overwhelm 
Less is more when it comes to offering a choice of products. "There is a law of diminishing returns on choice," says Corley. "Every marketing study shows that after about six or eight choices, the human brain overloads and it's just too much. I understand wanting to give people choice, but it can be a mistake to give them too much. It also slows down the whole gifting process."

 

Luxury leather goods, like those from
Tumi, offer incentive recipients
practical -- and desirable -- options
for incentive merchandise

Photography: Tumi; Incentive Concepts

Tumi's Landry agrees. "You have to concern yourself with the processing time," he says. "You might have a logjam if you're not careful about offering an edited assortment of items, and people might get frustrated if they're kept waiting too long."


6. Get Creative 
Gifting experiences can be problem solvers.

One of Corley's former clients wanted to find a way to keep its meeting attendees all together at the end of the day for a customer event. To keep customers in one place, Incentive Concepts worked with the client to create a Bose hospitality lounge.

"All of the customers and business folks had a place to come back to and just relax every afternoon," he explains. "On one side, you had a nice relaxing atmosphere where you could sip on wine, and people could use these provided tablets and headphones to Skype back home with family, or just relax, listen, or read. The other side had an 80-inch flat-screen TV and a very aggressive Bose home theater system in there. It was more of a party atmosphere."
 

The lounge kept attendees at the hotel instead of losing them to the nearby ski village, and also allowed them to test out the Bose product they would eventually take home with them. "On the final day, everyone came into the lounge and they all got to select a Bose product," says Corley. "We tried to make it an interactive, fun, and immersive experience that ties into a program."

Cultivate's Romine recently worked with a client that wanted to make the gifting experience a true shopping event for its 260 attendees. "The client wanted to bring in eight different experiences. Each attendee came into the gifting area with a certain number of tickets, and they got to choose where and how they wanted to spend their tickets," Romine explains. So, a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses might be worth three tickets, and a pair of Adidas shoes might be worth two. "It was such a hit, the client plans to do it again next year."


7. Know When to Ship
 
Some items are great to give on site -- others not so much. "Sunglasses, watches, jewelry, and small leather goods work great at the event," says Toomey. "Luggage and larger items work well when they can be drop shipped to the person's home."

Tumi's Landry says that it's important not to overload your attendees with a product that might be too cumbersome to pack. "We'll monogram the items at no charge, and ship it out to the recipient," he says. "People really love that because they get the piece they want, it's monogrammed with their initials, and they don't need to deal with it on site."


8. Find the Right Partners
 
 
Incentive Concepts often uses Bose
equipment to create special Bose
hospitality lounges that allow
participants to test out merchandise
before selecting their gift of choice
Make sure you have the right partner, advises Incentive Concepts' Corley. "There are a number of companies out there that saw a need for this in the marketplace, and they are trying to capitalize on it. But they're not from the meeting and event industry, so they're not creating good experiences for the planners and the attendees," he warns. "Make sure you vet your partner, and that they truly have experience in this. You could be giving the coolest product in the world, but if the experience isn't easy or it's not good, it's just not worth it."