Creative Swag Ideas for Virtual Events

The rise of virtual and hybrid workshops, meetings and conventions has forced event planners to get creative. Many of the activities and perks of in-person events are more challenging at online events. One example of an event tradition that has had to adapt to the changing landscape are those fun freebies, or swag, that get doled out to attendees at vendor booths and throughout the event.

But transitioning to virtual events doesn’t mean that you have to eliminate all swag, it just means you might need to think a bit outside the box about the types of gifts you usually give away. Swag is still a nice way to leave attendees with a positive impression and branded items are a great item to keep your organization top of mind long after the event is over.

[ Related: Hosting a Virtual Conference ]


Send Tangible Swag to Registrants

Just because your event is virtual, doesn’t mean you can’t still give away tangible items. In fact, having some products that attendees are likely to want to have before the start of the event can be a great way to encourage early sign-ups. Perhaps one of your speakers has written a book. You could offer that as swag and promote it with text such as, “Register by Sept. 2 and receive our keynote speaker’s new book in advance of the convention!”

Another fun swag idea for a virtual event would be to send t-shirts or hats to attendees in advance and encourage them to post a picture of themselves on social media wearing the gear for special perks, like being entered into a drawing or getting a one-on-one session to speak with an industry expert.

Other perennial swag favorites include totes, water bottles, notebooks, magnets, stickers and pens. Other nice items for online events could include headphones or edible treats that are a specialty of the host city. Avoid breakable items.

Be sure to check shipping arrival estimates and set up a registration deadline that will ensure that attendees will receive their swag before the event. If your company does not have the bandwidth to handle packaging and shipping a large quantity of swag boxes, contract with a company that can handle all of this for you.


Virtual Swag Ideas

Virtual swag can be just as popular as material swag, plus it eliminates shipping and potential waste. Here are some clever ideas for virtual freebies that your guests will appreciate.

· An eBook. How about offering an electronic book with all sorts of extra tips and resources provided by your speakers and organizers? Think about what types of take-home information would be most valuable to your guests and compile it into an eBook. It could include biographies of the panelists, links to recordings of the presentations, references to source material, book recommendations, relevant articles, information about the sponsors, plus charts, graphs and other visual aids.

· Discounts. Who doesn’t love a deal? Give registrants electronic gift cards and/or discount codes for services like UberEats, Massage Envy, auto care or services specifically relevant to your industry.

· Downloadable coloring pages, games or puzzles. Create custom puzzles related to your event to make it even more fun.

· Classes and learning. Give away online courses or a free subscription to a service like LinkedIn Learning.

· Free apps. Is there a really cool app that would be useful to your members? See if you can arrange to buy a code for your users to download the app for free.

· Digital wallpaper or Zoom backgrounds customized to your organization or event.

· Make a donation in their name to a charitable cause.

· Offer a virtual workout class.

· Passes to future online events, webinars or workshops.

· Get a celebrity to create quick shout-out videos for attendees. Winners can be drawn randomly or be reserved for those getting “premium” swag (see below). The winners can either submit a short snippet of what they’d like the celeb to say about them or you can have a standardized message. Many celebrities are available to be hired for this type of service through Cameo.


Offer “Premium” Swag for Extra Hype

You can use “premium” swag to get free publicity or encourage attendees to register at a higher VIP type level. Offer some extra nice perks for VIP registrants or create an opportunity for a really big gift to any attendee who posts about your event and tags your organization on social media. Another way to leverage premium gifts is to have a challenge for attendees to create a great video about some aspect of the event and then allow everyone to vote on the best one.

The items you could offer as premium swag are endless, but really anything that you think would be enticing but is perhaps not feasible to offer every attendee, is a great potential item for your premium swag bag or drawings. Ask your panelists whether there is anything they can offer such as a free consultation or an invite to an exclusive Q&A session.

Need some assistance in planning your next virtual or hybrid event? Contact us at J&M Business Solutions to discover how we can help you take your event to the next level!