Event marketers, you’ve conquered a lot. When live events were shut down, you shifted your entire event strategy online. You learned how to delight attendees even from afar and create a memorable brand experience despite being physically apart. Now, it’s time to start thinking about a new type of event: the hybrid event.
As in-person events return, we’ve seen the virtual components stick. Now many conferences have both physical and virtual attendees. Your goal as an event marketer is to keep attendees engaged wherever they are. After all that you’ve overcome, we’re confident learning the hybrid event strategy won’t phase you.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of the conference giveaway ideas for hybrid events. These ideas will help you keep attendees engaged both virtually and in-person while delivering an exceptional and memorable brand experience.
Learn how to host your own hybrid event from start to finish with our hybrid event checklist.
Choosing Conference Giveaways that Cater to Two Audiences
Perhaps the biggest challenge about hybrid events is coming up with a way to connect both audiences. With in-person events, engagement kind of comes naturally. We had to work a bit harder with virtual events, but we came up with creative and fun ways to keep our remote attendees tuned in. Now, how do we do both at the same time?
If chosen strategically, conference giveaways can help. In some cases, you’ll want to select gifts that are different for each audience. In other cases, you’ll want to use the same gifts to connect both audiences. That’s why we’ve divided this post into three sections: gifts for in-person attendees, gifts for remote attendees, and gifts for both.
Let’s dig in!
Conference Giveaways for In-Person Attendees
If your hybrid event attendees are in-person, they are probably quite excited about getting back out there, traveling, and networking with professionals in a physical environment. When choosing gifts for these audience members, think of items that get them excited about attending, while making their experience easier and more enjoyable. Here are some ideas:
Swag for Travel
If your attendees are physically attending, they’ll have to travel. So think about gifts that make this more enjoyable. We’re not just talking about suitcases or travel bags. Think deeper, and consider gifts that truly make the whole event experience one to remember.
Some of our favorite ideas are branded cocktail kits that attendees can use either on the plane or out at a networking cocktail hour. What about making your attendees a little more comfortable while they’re traveling to your event? This first class travel blanket with sleep mask is a luxury item that will make your in-person attendees feel pampered. What about a unique vegan leather crafted dopp kit? Attendees can pack all their necessary items in this stylish accessory, while you can brand it with a full-color design that’s aligned with your hybrid event theme.
Branded Backpacks or Bags
Attendees will need something to carry all their stuff in. Whether they’re traveling by plane or by car, a branded backpack can help them stay organized with all the giveaways and paperwork they’ll likely receive at the event itself. Plus, when you use branding that aligns with your hybrid event, you’ll generate outside exposure to your brand and event.
When choosing a branded backpack or bag for your hybrid event, we recommend going bold. Think of items that you can add a full-color custom design to. Make it stand out. The idea is to attract attention as your in-person event attendees travel to your venue. You’ll also want to choose a higher-quality bag. Stay away from what looks cheap and junky. You want to showcase your brand in a positive light. Higher-quality branded bags have the power to do just that.
We’d recommend staying away from too many PPE products - it serves as a reminder of the struggles from the past. And everyone is ready to ditch those masks. But people will still be concerned about cleanliness and germs as they return to in-person events. Sanitizing products are one of those conference giveaways that you can never have too much of, and they’ll always be appreciated by in-person attendees.
Giveaways for Remote Attendees
When it comes to remote attendees at your hybrid events, engagement gets a bit more challenging. Try coming up with giveaways that make your guests feel included. Swag items that encourage virtual experiences and networking can help keep attendees engaged, and connected. Also, think about items that make it easier for them to plug in and stay focused on your agenda. There are a lot of distractions at home, so swag items that help minimize these can help put the focus on your attendees and your brand, delivering a more exceptional hybrid event experience for everyone. Here are some ideas:
Branded Apparel Items
Think about when you watch sports or even an awards show on television. We often throw on a t-shirt or hat of our favorite team or singer. Why? It makes us feel immersed in the experience. It’s our way of feeling a part of the crowd, even while we’re socially distant. Wearable items have this power.
Luckily when it comes to swag, there’s a lot of different branded apparel items. Just like the branded backpacks we talked about above, we recommend choosing items with bold customization options. This makes your event branding more fun for your attendees and will allow them to show off their wearable items even while on camera. And just because you give these items to your virtual attendees doesn’t mean they won’t work for in-person attendees. Wearable branded apparel items can delight any type of hybrid event attendee, but it’s an especially important way to make virtual attendees feel included.
Connected Tech Items
Make it easy for your attendees to dial into your event. Keep in mind that more and more employees are splitting time between an in-person and home office workspace. These hybrid workers often consider themselves digital nomads, and it can sometimes be tough making sure you have all the right equipment, at the right place, at the right time. Think about custom earbuds or headphones, a branded power bank making it easy to connect anywhere in the house, or a charging portable mousepad.
Items To Encourage Virtual Experiences
Events are all about giving attendees an exceptional experience wherever they are. Virtual attendees miss out on the in-person connections that they’d make during the live event. But you can supplement these experiences with giveaway items or swag that encourage remote networking or virtual entertainment. Stack your agenda with fun sessions like a virtual coffee or cocktail hour. You could even do a breakout session for virtual attendees that gives them a break from the educational content of your event. Think about virtual cooking sessions or even a get-to-know each other ice cream party. Swag ideas like a make-your-own pizza kit or a personalized ice cream kit can make these experiences more fun while spreading some awareness for your hybrid event. Here are some fun ideas to get you started.
Gift Ideas for Both In-Person & Remote Attendees
When choosing conference giveaways, you’ll want to choose some gifts that you give to both in-person and remote attendees. Again, this is a great way to make everyone feel connected, no matter where they are. We love the idea of sending a hybrid event swag box to attendees before your event. This can help remote attendees feel included while getting everyone excited about your hybrid event before it even happens.
Sponsor Swag Boxes
Conference swag boxes are a creative way to incorporate sponsors of your event. Plus, it’s one way to alleviate the expense of putting together an event box. Consider asking each of your sponsors to pick an item and bundle them together into a box. This helps virtual attendees experience vendor booths that they might miss out on by attending virtually. Plus, sponsors get in on the action and will love showcasing their own brands in support of your event. And when you send your in-person attendees a swag box before the event, you generate an event buzz that is hard to recreate in any other way.
Here are some fun conference giveaway ideas that are great for sponsors:
Sustainable/ Purpose Driven Items
This is an idea everyone will get behind, whether your attendee is in-person or remote. Sending sustainable or purpose-driven swag shows attendees that your brand is bigger than itself. Today’s consumer looks to align themselves with businesses that support a bigger cause, and thoughtful giveaways that do just that are one way to connect with your audience. We have a lot of different ideas, from cause marketing gifts that give back to eco-friendly virtual event gifts. Explore these insights below.
It doesn’t matter if your attendees are in-person or online; healthy snacks are a hybrid event swag or giveaway items that are kind of a necessity. You’ve probably been to your fair share of tradeshows where you skip lunch and, because you're starving, stop at any booth you see with food. Very rarely is it ever a healthy option. Set your booth apart by bringing healthy snacks.
Including healthy snacks in a hybrid event swag box can also be another way to boost engagement among remote attendees. Build in a snack break in your agenda, where virtual attendees can network while munching on the delicious branded snack you included. So what kind of healthy options do we recommend? Here are some ideas:
Uniting Hybrid Audiences Over Branded Conference Swag
The biggest challenge event marketers will have to face when hosting hybrid events is learning how to connect two audiences experiencing two very different experiences. These conference giveaway ideas can help you do just that. By being intentional with your gift-giving strategy, you’ll create a shared experience for attendees, both in-person and virtual, to connect over. In return, these memorable moments between hybrid audiences will activate your brand in new and creative ways.