Party Favors, Corporate Style
The mass meeting. Besides the free doughnuts and justified caffeine addiction, it's one of the best parts of corporate life. Your company flies you out to some adult playground like Las Vegas or Miami, puts you up in a nice hotel, and gives you a couple free meals and cool take-home toys all on its dime. And what a dime it is.
Despite the sound-prison of fiscal whining we've been living in for the last three years, corporations are still dropping plenty of cash on annual mass-meetings, training retreats and other large-scale gatherings. Among the great destinations, gifted speakers and gratuitous meals, companies will need one more thing: an absolute ton of stuff.
From the basics like lanyards and ID badges to hand-picked, high-class performance rewards like watches or electronics, corporations need a boatload of physical gear to pull off a successful large-scale meeting. Should you find yourself in a position providing items for such an event, consider this handy item-by-item breakdown to pick up a few tips before fully stocking your corporate client.
Whether for holding name tags or carrying key cards and other important items, lanyards are a standard for any large business gathering. When selecting lanyards for purchase, Jackie Francque, sales for Meetings Direct, Verona, Wis., recommended checking their fabric textures to make sure they're not too rough or coarse, and also keeping the lanyard's ultimate purpose in mind (a lanyard meant to display a badge would benefit from no-spin or length-adjustment features, while a lanyard for a key card would not, etc.).
● Power Point: Plan for short notice on attendance levels.
"Buying lanyards offshore often requires 60 day delivery times," said Francque. "That is fine for key rings or IDs for a business, but not for a meeting where a client may not know how many attendees they will have until two or three weeks out."
BINDERS AND FOLDERS
Most corporate events will involve a collection of important written material, be it training handbooks or various meeting programs, which is where decorated binders and folders come in. When choosing an imprint method for your items, consider digital printing if facing a tight turnaround time or fluctuate attendance. (Similar to buying lanyards domestically, digital decoration will allow you to receive products on a quick turnaround due to its speed over traditional printing.)
● Power Point: Ask the right questions.
"Always ask 'What is going into the binder or folder?'" said Bob Abeel, national sales manager for The Leslie Company, Olathe, Kan. "This will help you on a couple of fronts: 1. Give you the opportunity to quote on the brochure, notepad or tabs/text. 2. Help you better understand the program overall. … 3. Help you gain graces with the buyer, in that you care about the event, and not just the order!"
USB MEMORY DRIVES
Either as an alternative to print material handouts or alone as a nice take-home item, USB memory drives fit right into the needs of most corporate events. Don't forget that custom USB shapes are available for branding drives beyond just adding a logo. "[Custom shapes] help set apart the distributor and the promotion and always get a wow," said Lon McGowan, CEO of iClick, Seattle.
● Power Point: Watch out for faulty technology.
"There are a lot of pitfalls to be aware of when buying USB drives," said McGowan. "Most of the time they involve less-than-advertised memory, short life, and bad imprints. My best advice is to just work with a company that you trust and who you know will stand behind their product."
With outdoor events like golf and large-scale picnics being popular corporate activities, it makes sense to offer sun-care items. If you're looking to avoid the sometimes-sloppy traditional sun lotions, be aware that spray bottle options are also available. "Our popular pocket sprayer package, which is normally used for various hand sanitizer products, has also become very popular with SPF 15 and SPF 30 spray because it is so convenient to store and dispense," said Larry Wilhelm, CEO of Custom HBC and Custom Chocolate, Waconia, Minn.
● Power Point: Be careful with quality control.
"Make certain you know who the original manufacturer is and be sure that they have an FDA site registration number and appropriate quality controls," said Wilhelm. "This is not necessarily the case with many imported sunscreen products."
Corporate recognition events wouldn't be much without physical awards of some kind. Crystal or other custom-designed awards can be a great way to create lasting mementos for recipients as well as recurring company icons for clients.
● Power Point: Color is king.
"Color, color, color!" said Audra Lehnert, marketing coordinator for St. Paul, Minnesota-based Crystal D. "Color is the biggest trend in symbolic awards. Although brilliant clear crystal is beautiful, the awards that incorporate color are very popular right now," she explained. "In our experience the most popular colors in crystal awards are blue, green, pink and black."
Whether as gifts or part of a corporate incentives program, watches and other high-end gifts certainly have place at business gatherings. "Who doesn't want a nice watch as an award?" asked Robert Hoffman, marketing and sales coordinator for Castle Merchandising, Garden City South, N.Y. "Watches are surrounded by a veil of prestige and have been gifted to individuals since the 15th century."
● Power Point: Make memories.
"Make it an event to remember," said Hoffman. "Add a personal touch and commemorate your event with style by adding a company logo to the gift box."