Sunday, July 15, 2018

5 Tips for an Engaging Gifting Experience

This article was first printed in Prevue Magazine on July 11, 2018.

Corporate gifting is an opportunity to connect with clients, strengthen relationships and provide an experience—and it takes on many shapes.

At one end of the spectrum, you have the (boring, non-creative, no choice) old-school room drop with a branded goodie bag filled with a few sponsored snacks, and at the opposite spectrum you have a custom corporate gifting experience that’s focused on selection, choice and brands.
Planners are definitely using gifting more now than ever. Many companies are realizing that a fabulous trip in a beautiful destination is only a part of the experience. Corporate gifting now tends to be a bigger part of the memorable experience and companies are recognizing this and the attendees are wanting (and expecting) more.

The meetings and events industry is skewed towards the female gender, and Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) never ceases to impress with its lady-friendly corporate gifts such as lipgloss with mirror and OPI-branded nail polish in ALHI Red. At a horse race event, Preferred Hotels partnered with a hat company to allow attendees to select a hat or fascinator to go with their outfit. Impact GPS partnered with Maui Jim for its Los Angels event a few weeks ago to provide a custom sunglass fitting experience. Attendees were able to try on about eight different pairs of sunglasses, see how they fit, seek professional fitting advice and walk away with a free pair of Maui Jims sunglasses.
A meeting planner veteran noted, “I always give gifts as a reminder of the key takeaways of that meeting. If it is an incentive meeting, it is a reminder of the fun that was had and a talking point for when they see you in the shirt, sunglasses etc. It leads to a discussion: Where did you get those glasses?”
andgreat has personally commissioned custom belt buckles for a VIP client event in Austin, Texas. We mailed the buckles ahead of time as an event teaser, and then brought the artist onsite with leather straps for a complete custom belt fitting experience. Not only was it a memorable experience, it tied into the unique destination.
Here are my top five tips for corporate gifting:

Check Corporate Policies

Many companies—especially in the pharmaceutical world—cannot participate in corporate gifting as they pay their attendees an honorarium. A pharma planner noted that corporate gifting is still relevant but gets harder and harder with parameters being put into place by companies.

Determine Wants

Knowing your audience will help narrow and focus your selection. If you know your attendees are mostly female, for example, have a heavier selection of lady-friendly products. If you audience is a mixed bag, you can’t go wrong with a selection of high-end male, female and unisex sunglasses, running shoes or sandals.

Get Creative 

Corporate gifting that reflects the city or destination you are hosting your event is a great starting point. Tying the corporate gifting to the event destination lends to the overall experience. If you’re meeting in a colder mountain destination, a branded Patagonia fleece makes sense. If you’re meeting at a beach resort, consider offering a sandals experience.

Quality Over Quantity

Branded “junk” is self-serving and comes across as such. No one wants branded stress balls. And at the end of the day, your corporate gifting reflects your brand and your reputation. Do you want to be associated with junk?

Find a Trusted Partner

Find a partner that will be with you every step of the way and has experience with corporate gifting. While Maui Jim pioneered the onsite experiential gifting concept over 17 years ago, there are other vendors that offer a wider range of products and brands. Global Gifting partners with high-end brands that manufacturer everything from sandals to electronics, for example.
What’s the coolest corporate gift you’ve received?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

My Top 5 Meeting Planning Tips

1.     Customize the way you communicate with each specific client.
Some of my clients love email, others prefer I pick up the phone.  Several prefer to communicate via Slack or other tech platforms. Knowing the preferred method of communication is key and helps alleviate stress on both sides.

2.     Have a detailed agenda.
With that being said, any planner will tell you that something will always go wrong. So while you should have a detailed run of show in place (and a backup plan), it’s equally important to think on your feet and continuously assess and adjust as needed.

3.     Site inspection. Site inspection.
It’s imperative that you conduct a site inspection to not only see the venue, but to walk through the agenda of your event.  It’s key to be able to see how far, for example, the sleeping rooms are from the breakfast, and how many minutes will it take to walk from the general session to the breakouts. Becoming intimately familiar with the property and building a rapport with staff before everyone arrives will make for a smoother event.

4.     Leverage ideas from other events.
I was staying at a hotel a few weeks ago and decided to meander through the meeting space (It’s what planners do when they are on holiday...we can’t help ourselves.) I saw the coolest snack break: a donut wall. I knew immediately I had to replicate this for one of my events. I mean, who doesn’t love donuts?! And a wall of donuts is totally Instagram-able.

5.    Be VERY specific when communicating the details of the event.
Everyone may understand that the event starts at 5pm, but do they understand that they need to book a flight that arrives no later than 3pm in order to make it to the event by 5pm?  Most attendees do not take into consideration the tiny details like ground transfers, and distance of venue from airport. It’s your job as the planner to communicate those nitty gtritty details.