With one year under our belts, it’s time to step up our game for rewarding valued attendees, employees, and community members. Let’s talk… virtual gifting.
Few could imagine last spring that we’d still be reliant on virtual events and Zoom calls to fulfill that innate desire to connect. There are undoubtedly positive signs, and as the saying goes, this too shall pass. We’re almost there—emphasis on almost.
But just as we can’t hit pause on cherished moments, there is no fast-forwarding through challenging times. Organizations cannot simply wait for vaccines to be distributed to begin business, just as event planners are not going to poll each attendee to see if they are comfortable traveling before getting down to work. Strategically adapting to situations is a key characteristic of a successful leader. Challenges evolve into opportunities.
The good news is, even though we can’t hug it out yet, organizations can still share how much they care. Enter the new age of virtual gifting.
The Gift of Giving
As we explored last year, virtual gifts fulfill the vital need for companies to stay connected with their customers or members. Now, they’ve become so much more!. The items that attendees receive in the mail now often represent the only physical aspect of the conference, meeting, or event in which they are participating. Gifts are now symbolic of time gone by, but also are keepsakes turned memory-makers. When the presentations enter the archives, it’s those boxes filled with goodies that turn a virtual conference into a lasting experience.
Just as virtual events are expected to have better production quality this year, swag bags and gifts need to be raised to a new level.
Many virtual events were rushed into fruition to make up for a suddenly canceled event. We enter 2021 knowing almost all conferences, conventions and meetings are going to have some sort of virtual component and these events need to be customized to accommodate different audiences. Consider the following scenarios:
The Situation: Companies made difficult decisions last year. Well-respected workers were furloughed or let-go. We’re in the beginnings of a recovery, and it’s vital to show those remaining employees their importance. Will a virtual experience of an exotic island truly cut it?
The Solution: There may be no choice except to forgo unforgettable trips for now. Instead, create a virtual award show complete with a red carpet. Personalized trophies are a nice stand-by, but we are aiming to up the ante. Partner with virtual broadcast studios where winners (ideally dressed up for the occasion) can create pre-recorded videos. Compile all the videos into one file to broadcast during the show. Then ship the final product to participants on a flash drive. Be sure to instruct studio staff to get stills of the winners on-site, and then add framed photos of the top performers (gussied up for the first time in how long?) in a gift box.
Gifts That Keep Giving
The Situation: Regular reinforcement of a person’s value to a company is never a bad thing. Email or social media shout-outs are great—so much so you probably adopted the strategy. What more can you do?
The Solution: Remember we are looking for tangible ways to measure an attendee’s or employee’s worth. But those don’t have to be physical. Consider a yearly subscription to a publication (print or digital) based on the employee’s interest. A studious worker may value The New York Times while another person may prefer Entertainment Weekly. Don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all approach. Customization and personalization are going to be king this year.
The Situation: Each event is going to have its VIPs—boards of directors, sponsors, longtime attendees. You still want to recognize these individuals at a function. Delivered meals via DoorDash is nice, but again, we’re going for a new experience.
The Solution: How do you wow individuals who are used to takeout meals to break up the monotony of eating at home every night? Deliver something special. This doesn’t have to be a full meal, either. In this case, the thought truly counts. Charcuterie boards are elegant options that don’t need to be heated and have the popular snackable feature. Add on a split of Champagne and attendees can picture themselves at a nice tapas restaurant.
Event professionals have worked so hard to maintain connections within communities. The job never gets easy, and if it feels like you have to outdo yourself annually, that’s because you do. Rise up to challenges knowing attendees have come to expect certain things out of virtual events.
Paragon Events immensely values each and every partnership that contributes to our success. By providing clients with never-before-seen opportunities, we continue to demonstrate our value and dedication to their business priorities. Contact our team for your next event and see for yourself why a collaborative partnership is a gift to be cherished.
This blog post was authored by Matt Swenson.