by Miguel Campos | November 27, 2017
Everybody loves free stuff, and there is no better place to find free stuff than at conferences and events. But the reality is that most of the promotional products we receive at these gatherings will not enhance our engagement and most marketing materials will be left behind in a trash bin. How can you as an event organizer do better? Here are some ideas.

Make it optional
Consider making some items optional. Not everyone will want a water bottle. When attendees are asked to opt-in to receive swag they are more likely to only accept items they can make use of. This will increase the likelihood that the items get utilized after the conference, reducing waste.

Make them earn it
With the gamification of events becoming more prevalent, consider how these items can be given a competitive twist. Create a situation where the attendees have the opportunity to earn, win, or hunt for them. As your attendees race to get their hands on the prize, they will find themselves engaging with others and having conversations they may not have had otherwise. This approach is less about promoting a brand as it is about promoting engagement and connection amongst attendees.

Focus on value
A few high-value items can be more effective than many low-value items. Find practical items and not just another trinket.

Re-evaluate bags
Consider focusing on style over marketing -- a stylish messenger bag or satchel will have greater longevity and use post-event, especially with a well-placed logo.

Find conversation starters
A large part of attendee engagement is connection. When your delegates reinforce existing relationships and start to build new ones, they will return home with a greater sense of satisfaction. Seek out products that will be conducive to starting conversations. These items should be unique or anything that will get noticed.

Rethinking room gifts and making themmore effective is a win-win for event organizers, it makes you feel good giving away free stuff.

Miguel Campos heads up operations and client relations for GRUPO Events & Adventures. He has executed over 500 events with groups ranging in size from 20 to over 2800 participants.