Swag Ideas for Your Event

Team GTRTeam GTR April 5, 2022

Day one of your event and a buzz starts to generate among attendees. It’s not about a keynote speaker or rumors of a product launch. It’s about the swag bag you put together!

Giveaways, novelties, swag: whatever you call it, your selection can set the tone for your meeting or conference. Let’s break down why swag is so important, and how to pick it.

What is Swag?

Stuff. We. All. Get. Believed to have evolved from a Scandinavian word for “bag” to an English term for “stolen goods,” the word “swag,” has come to mean promotional items given to attendees at events.

The right swag can help make the audience feel connected and valued. And the best swag continues to work long after the event. Many of the favored items will find a home on a desk, in a drawer, or atop a bookcase. It stays there as a promotion for your event, and a great reminder to register next year.

The right branded giveaway item not only delights your attendees but also increases event exposure. Imagine an attendee wearing your branded hat in a social media post or whipping out their new swag notebook on the flight home: It’s an easy organic promotion for your brand and event.

best swag ideas

How do I select swag for my next event?

Start with four key considerations when investing in event swag:

  1. Budget: The factor every practical event planner will start with. If you’re on a shoestring budget, choose quality over quantity. One good piece of swag will outweigh the value of 5 cheap tchotchkes.

  2. Audience: Will this swag surprise & delight? Will it connect with your audience’s core values? Will it be something they leave on their desk for years? Will they find it useful? Put yourself in the shoes of your attendees.

  3. Branding: How will this swag not only connect with your audience but serve as a tool to strengthen your event’s brand? Sure, you can put your event logo on just about anything, but does the swag connect back to the event’s theme, location, or industry?

  4. Logistics: How will your attendees obtain their swag? Will they be lugging them around all day? Will they need to bring them home in their carry-on? Or is your audience virtual? Shipping a virtual audience swag is a great way to enhance the event, but will come with some logistics of its own.

Swag trends

A great way to begin your swag brainstorm is to look to your attendees’ values. We’re seeing these trends bubble to the surface:

Eco-friendly: Choose sustainable swag from renewable resources or one that advertises a zero-carbon footprint. Opt for something that can be used repeatedly, not just once. Look for a reusable straw kit, apparel made from recycled materials, and merch that even plants itself. Swag company Roody plants a tree for every item made (and makes insanely instagrammable branded sweaters).

Wellness: Consider the physical and mental well-being of your attendees. While the stress ball is the OG in wellness swag, we suggest you get a little more creative: we’re looking at essential oils, stretch bands, and even tea.

Shop Local: Collaborate with local food and drink vendors to show off the flavors of their city. We’re loving this Minnesota-themed snack box. Tip: this is a great way to share the in-person experience with virtual attendees!

Functionality: When in doubt, go functional. The more functional an item is, the less likely it’ll get tossed. Your best bet when it comes to functional swag are:

Swag for virtual event attendees

Sending virtual attendees swag is a fantastic way to give a rich event experience from afar. The key difference is in the delivery: virtual event swag requires organizers to send giveaways to attendees rather than the attendees gathering them themselves. Surprise and delight your virtual attendees with well-timed swag deliveries that get them hyped to attend.

If your budget doesn’t allow for the shipping of swag, you can still offer remote attendees some digital bonus items like a branded zoom background, a free digital download, or branded desktop wallpaper.

Since 1995, we’ve provided the conference and tradeshow industry with innovative technologies designed to improve and simplify event planning, powering more than 12,000 events around the world. Get in touch if you’re looking for on-site or behind-the-scenes help.

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