Conference Swag: Trash or Treasure?

In almost every industry there are plenty of educational opportunities such as conferences, retreats, and seminars to attend and at these types of events you often receive some type of swag. Companies spend thousands of dollars on swag but is it just trash? Or do you treasure it?

How do you feel when you receive that bag full of swag? Does your heart skip a beat with excitement or do you instantly think “Ugh… more junk”?

As a corporate event planner, I’ve seen my fair share of swag that sadly just end up in the landfill and I’ve also seen some really popular items that guests literally fight over!

To avoid being wasteful I’ve come up with a few tips to make sure you choose the good stuff for your guests.


Making your swag consumable is always a good idea! People love treats and if its branded with your logo on it, your guests will remember it!

Sure, you might be thinking “but they wont go home with it”. If this is a huge concern of yours, consider something like a tin of mints. They are great for anyone to have on hand after a meal but guests will take the rest home with them.


When you offer something that has a purpose, people are much more likely to hold onto it and use it throughout the event. A traditional branded note pad is a great idea or something like a cell phone sleeve… People love to attach these to their phones so they have storage for a credit card and ID on the go. Check out Brand Blvd for some great suggestions:

Consider your Target Market

Make sure that you know your audience. It sounds obvious but giving out swag that is chosen with your guests in mind will increase your chances that they will keep what you give them. Eg. Give out compact mirrors at a ladies-only event and watch them beg for extras.

Avoid Paper Marketing Promo

The majority of people get back to their hotel, dump out their swag bag and the first thing they do is take all of the paper materials and throw them into the garbage. If you’re planning on printing out a promo piece, save your money.

If you want to give a promo eg. 50% off your product or service, consider attaching a chocolate or something that will encourage your guest to pick it up and read it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you keep your swag or do you toss it? What’s the best piece of conference swag you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments below!