The events industry is rapidly evolving. As a result, many businesses and events coordinators are searching for great virtual swag ideas that can help build excitement for a brand or online event in 2022 and the years to come.
Even as in-person concerts, festivals, and business events (including brick-and-mortar trade shows, conferences, and conventions) began to return in 2021, hybrid and virtual events have remained popular with companies and professional organizations. According to recent research from vFairs, 92% of companies continued hosting virtual events even after physical events resumed. And 46% companies will host more virtual events in 2022 than in 2021.
Virtual and hybrid events were already widely used in some industries, such as education, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020. Educators appreciate the lower entrance costs of virtual conferences, webinars, and other professional events. Because they don’t require days of travel, virtual events are also much less of a time commitment, making it easier for busy professionals to attend multiple virtual talks or conferences a year.
Other industries – from tech to music – have learned about the value and possibilities of virtual and hybrid events over the past two years. New platforms and technologies are being developed that will use the metaverse to create virtual and hybrid events that better emulate the social and tangible experience of in-person concerts and live events. According to a press release for ELYNXIR, the world’s first music metaverse™, “Virtual worlds are augmenting physical events, and the metaverse offers an opportunity to inject a sense of wonder and physical experience back into interactions with music.”
Direct mail gifts can also help businesses and event coordinators provide virtual event attendees with a tangible, physical experience–as well as an element of surprise and delight. Virtual event gifts including digital or virtual swag bags fall into two main categories: Custom conference speaker gifts and Custom gifts for event attendees
Virtual Swag Ideas for Speakers & Presenters
Gifts for virtual events can range from gift cards and awards/plaques for presenters…
Really nice gesture – as a thank you for participating as a panelist in a company's virtual event, they sent me a Ticketmaster gift card to go to a real event. 🙂— Rhiannon Payne 🌙 | The Remote Work Era 🌍👩💻 (@rhiannon_io) June 7, 2022
Guess who's going to see Stevie Nicks on Sunday?!
I just received this lovely carving a few weeks after giving a virtual talk for a Brazilian conference on AI & law. What a thoughtful gift! pic.twitter.com/LkavjAGRZC— Frank Pasquale (@FrankPasquale) August 2, 2021
…to digital gifts like eBooks, digital stickers and NFTs…
The 2022 Virtual IRC is less than 2 days away! Register today & receive your virtual gift bag, which includes IRC zoom backgrounds, an IRC resource guide & much more!— Support for Families (@SupportforFams) April 28, 2022
Sign up for the IRC here: https://t.co/AJDEGoYH3B
Sign up for workshops here: https://t.co/xVS03iUcuf#IRC2022 pic.twitter.com/2VYaeDcJzr
…to “virtual” swag bags or gift boxes full of promotional merchandise for attendees.
Virtual Swag Ideas for Before the Event
Some virtual event gift boxes, containing branded merchandise from various vendors and sponsors, are sent to attendees prior to an event to build up excitement and momentum:
One of our favorite virtual swag bag examples highlights the importance of including both practical and fun items in a custom swag pack, bag or box:
Tangible gifts – including sweet and savory snacks, artisan beverages & other goodies –can also help event coordinators create a more interactive and social experience for virtual event and conference attendees:
Good morning and welcome to the 3rd day of #4CSLA’s Virtual Conference! Open up gift number 5 and let’s see all those mug shots. Enjoy your day of learning! #CEB #Presents #ProfDev pic.twitter.com/9zCo42kTR0— CSLA (@4csla) February 19, 2021
Virtual Swag Ideas – Let Them Choose
To make their experience feel more special, while also cutting down on environmental waste, some virtual event coordinators also offer attendees the opportunity to choose their own custom gift after registration:
Welcome to the 2020 NADC Virtual Conference! Just ordered my Conference GIFT! Looking forward to seeing you there! Come to our workshop on Trends in Technology on Friday at 2:40 pm Eastern! @FIAAANews @NIAAA9100 @GCWHSS @ABW_Athletics @CoachBechler @CanadianIAAA @WinningCoaches pic.twitter.com/xcLT20e5yB— Jake von Scherrer, CMAA The Educational AD Podcast (@jakestouchdown) December 8, 2020
Sometimes it's better to receive! #ForGood attendees can access their virtual gift bag through Aug 23 from the virtual venue's main navigation. Choose from categories including health, wellness, education & curated products from our sponsors. See what’s inside & claim your swag! pic.twitter.com/6ulSM543A9— PBWC (@pbwc) August 15, 2020
Virtual Swag Ideas for Vendor Exhibitors
Vendors, rather than event coordinators, also sometimes send gifts directly to attendees of virtual conferences, expos & trade shows after an event as a call to action. Virtual event gift boxes or packages sent either prior to an event or after an event provide a tangible way to connect with or follow up with attendees.
I’m happy to able to attend the 32nd Sports Turf Managers Association Conference” virtual”!— Jason DeMink CSFM (@mowdaddy53) January 11, 2021
Thank @ToroGrounds for the gift!
I can’t wait to see everybody next year. @FieldExperts @michstma pic.twitter.com/Q0CcmH0Hkw
Virtual Swag Ideas – Digital & Physical Giveaways
Some vendors also use digital and physical giveaways like eGift cards and branded swag as contest prizes or incentives for attendees to visit their virtual booth and/or sign up for email lists.
The #AWWOA2021 Virtual Trade show features 70 supplier representatives from across the country, giving you a wide range of opportunity to find the right company for your product or service needs. Visit them for live showcases and giveaways!https://t.co/1CAxJbntRF pic.twitter.com/xE0w3z8Oci— AWWOA (@awwoa) February 25, 2021
If you aren't already convinced about attending the Virtual Trade Show tomorrow, maybe this will help…— Pet Tutor (@PetTutor) June 24, 2020
We will be doing GIVEAWAY bags full of goodies for several lucky listeners! Not only will there be giveaways, but also DISCOUNTS on Pet Tutor products throughout the show. pic.twitter.com/KlgO7SoyMF
Day 1 of the @abca1945 Virtual Trade Show was a hit! ⚾ Make sure to stop by our booth everyday 11:30am-4pm!— On Deck Sports (@OnDeckSports) January 7, 2021
And don't forget to enter our #ABCA2021 GIVEAWAY for your chance to win a ❗ PROMOUNDS PORTABLE PITCHING MOUND❗ of your choice!
***See Pinned Tweet for details*** pic.twitter.com/EQ90e2FiDL
Branded Promotional Products – the Most Beloved Advertising
Promotional products and free gifts are consumers’ #1 most beloved form of advertising. Virtual swag bags and other gifts – whether digital or physical – provide an irreplaceable way to build excitement for events and brands.
My 4yo & 1yo fight over this trade show giveaway more than any other item. I would pay 💰 for a second one. Too bad 2021 shows are virtual. Any one have a spare they can part with!? 🙄 🤪 @TheToroCompany @ToroGolf pic.twitter.com/PVP5UpAaZf— Erin Boyd Wilder (@erinbwilder) November 28, 2020
Up Your Virtual Swag Game with Metron Branding
For additional virtual swag ideas, check out our list of Conference Swag Ideas and our guide to the Best Swag Items for Trade Shows (According to Attendees).