The Winningest Swag for Your 2016 Conference

The Winningest Swag for Your 2016 Conference

Somewhere, in some God-forsaken corner of the earth lies every conference planner’s nightmare: a graveyard of last year’s discarded swag. Remember that keychain you tossed moments after finding it at the bottom of your swag bag? The branded mug that you conveniently “forgot” in your hotel room? The gaudy phone case that never even had a chance of making it anywhere near your phone? They’re all there, in a towering pile of neon plastic and polyester, where they’ll languish forever because someone didn’t have the damn sense to realize that conference attendees don’t need a thousandth branded USB drive.

Don’t let this happen to you! Something that seems to be lost on so many trade show and conference organizers is that the purpose of swag is not purely as a vehicle for promotion, but rather to provide gifts that attendees will value and hopefully keep around for years to come. So how do you avoid swag bags that end up in hotel trashcans at the end of the day? Check out our guide for recommendations that are sure to please.

Event Production Blog: Shwag


The first rule of good swag is functionality – and it doesn’t get any more functional than an umbrella. Pedestrian as it may seem, umbrellas are a great choice for two reasons: first, unless you live in a dry climate, they’re sure to get a lot of use; and second, they’re used exclusively outside, which makes them a great vehicle for advertising. If you don’t skimp on the quality, this is a piece of swag people will both appreciate and keep in their regular rotation for years to come.


Portable phone chargers

Speaking of functionality, it doesn’t get much more useful than a portable phone charger – especially at an event where folks will likely be on their phones all day long. It’s an item that most people won’t go out of their way to buy, but will get a lot of use out of, and appreciate your brand whenever they do. Best of all, they’re not as expensive as you’d think – you can buy a Jolt charger, for example, for as little as $13 each.


Quality totes

The key word here is quality. Chances are, anyone who regularly attends trade shows, conferences, or media events has their very own mausoleum of crappy totes stuffed in a cabinet somewhere. You know the kind we’re talking about – the gross, polyester/ polypropylene bags that feel kind of like fabric but not quite, and that you keep around on the off chance that you’ll need them for grocery shopping. Ditch those in favor of real cotton or canvas totes, ideally with a unique image screened on the front. They may cost a little more, but it’s worth it to provide a quality product that people will be proud to use, rather than one gathering mold under the sink.


Moleskine notebooks

Forget funny-shaped USBs in little metal boxes – these days, it’s better to go old-school with your office-related swag. Among the classiest choices is a good Moleskine notebook. Not only do people go gaga for them as planners, organizers or journals, Moleskines are perfect for branding because you can easily have your logo imprinted in the cover. Show us someone willing to throw out a perfectly good Moleskine, and we’ll show you a man with no soul.

Event Production Blog: Trade Show Shwag 2016

Mobile phone speakers

The beautiful thing about phone speakers is they’re sure to get people to associate your brand or event with something they love – music. Whenever they’re out and about – at the beach, at a party, on a weekend trip – they’ll pull this little guy out and be reminded of your brand as they groove along to some of their favorite tunes.

David Sonntag
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