by Andrea Doyle | July 21, 2016

Selection and Service
This service element is another important feature of a merchandise bar, both in making it memorable and differentiating it from the traditional pillow gift.


Maui Jim's Gift Experience
includes sunglasses in different
styles and colors

The merchandise bar concept started in 2000 with Maui Jim, and service was an integral part of the offering, says Peoria, IL-based Brett Hatch, senior director of global corporate gifts for the sunglasses company. He can service groups as small as 25 to more than 5,000.

"I was working with a large financial company and I offered to come out and do a fitting during their event at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun. They wanted us to do a pillow gift/room drop and I said that we could offer a fitting experience for the group," says Hatch. Maui Jim recipients have the chance to try on different styles and colors, assisted by a trained staffer who can advise on what best suits their face and also custom-fit the sunglasses.

The company adds further value to the fitting experience by offering customized cases, cleaning cloths, and pouches with the name of the event or customer. "These items can be left in each guest room as a pillow gift with a note that says 'come down to our meeting room tomorrow and pick out a pair of sunglasses,'" says Hatch.

"It sends a message that we care and we want to give you something that is going to be useful," says John Marzuki, an account executive at Chicago-based BCD Meetings & Incentives, who has used the Maui Jim experience with clients.

"We take care of all shipping details, duties and taxes, and our flights," Hatch says, noting that this makes it a seamless experience for both the recipients and the planners.