Gifting in the age of hybrid events
Life is full of simple truths. Food always tastes better with friends. Fridays are always worth being thankful for. And gifts always add joy to any occasion.
That last example is of particular importance to us here at Unbridled. With the help of our partners at Giftd, we’ve supplied a wide range of branded apparel and unique gifts for countless events. From personal goods like backpacks and tumblers, to custom materials like name badges and awards, gifts are an essential part of the event experience. Though we tailor our offerings to each event individually, our process has remained relatively consistent over the years.
In with the new
Typically, gifts are shipped in bulk to an event’s hotel venue. From there, on-site staff distribute the items to attendees during registration. As the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more and more available, some attendees may prefer to join in person, while others will opt for the at-home experience. Additionally, most events have embraced remote viewing options, and we’ve been tasked with adapting all our production practices so that both in-person and remote attendees can enjoy the full event experience; that includes gifting.
For virtual event attendees, Giftd now mails gift packages directly to attendees’ homes. This requires the team to make some additional considerations; in addition to matching recipients’ apparel sizes, we now handle fulfillment, verify attendee addresses, and submit every package to a shake test to ensure items are secure. When the boxes are opened, we want their contents to be in the exact order in which they shipped.
Though sending gifts to potentially hundreds of remote attendees requires extensive coordination and logistical planning, it has also led to some new ideas that have allowed us to elevate the gifting experience even further in the wake of the pandemic.
What’s in the box?
There’s a reason most gifts come adorned in colorful tissue papers, ribbons, and bows. While the item inside may be the ultimate reward, the excitement that comes with opening the box or bag is a treat in and of itself. Gradually unwrapping a gift to reveal the surprise within is part of the fun. The packaging pros at Giftd understand this, which is why they take special care to ensure each item is given the presentation it deserves.
As virtual track attendees now receive their gifts through the mail, the unboxing experience is more important than ever. From nestling items in brand-colored crinkle paper to designing entire boxes in the style of an event’s theme, we do our best to add a personal touch everywhere we can. Additionally, tying a gift’s appearance to the company hosting an event reminds attendees that they are part of a team. Intentional corporate gifting is important to reaffirm the connections between the in-person and virtual audience.
We’ve dedicated a lot of attention to packaging, but what about the gifts themselves? When sourcing items for an event, Giftd first looks for options that align with a company’s culture and vision. A business that emphasizes physical fitness would probably appreciate athleisure apparel rather than artisan chocolates. We also make an effort to source gifts from a company’s local community. For instance, if we planned on fashioning branded mugs for a Boston-based client, we may also include bags of coffee from a Boston roastery.
It helps to stay on top of trends, too. We often ask what people want or need at a particular time. In the early days of the pandemic, face masks, sanitizing wipes and at-home cocktail kits were going out almost daily it seemed. Now, as we move into a hopeful spring and summer, we are sourcing a lot more outdoor and adventure items like fire pits, paddle boards, coolers and outdoor apparel. Of course, everything is branded according to a client’s signature style.
Intentional corporate gifting is important to reaffirm the connections between the in-person and virtual audience.
Award shows are common among annual corporate events. There’s no better time to commend outstanding individuals than during an all-staff assembly.
While it may be impossible to fully emulate a traditional award show through a livestream for the virtual attendee, we’ve done our best to offer gifts to celebrate with like, noise makers, champagne gummies, chocolates, and other party favors; even when separated, audience members can still celebrate their peers’ achievements together.
We’ve also allowed winners to choose their own reward from a catalogue of gift options. Having that extra bit of personal agency and empowerment can go a long way for attendees that are not able to join in-person. As for the awards themselves, we ship awards to remote winners in a timely manner so that the surprise of victory is never spoiled.
Wrapping things up
We believe gifts are an integral part of any event, both on-site and virtual. When it comes to supplying attendees with memorable merchandise, some may see remote viewing as an obstacle, but we see an opportunity to evolve our creative ideas. In some ways, virtual events have allowed us to make gifts an even greater part of the event experience by connecting the virtual and live attendees. Adapting to new challenges can be difficult, but we’ve been fortunate enough to build from a solid foundation. Inspiring wonder in our clients has always been one of our strengths. You could say we have a gift for it.