With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting everyday life across the globe, every event right now is virtual. In response, savvy planners are using event kits — yes, packages sent via mail or courier service — to registrants. Add a physical element to make your virtual meetups more engaging and to get your message into the hands of your customers.
Engage attendees before the event
Sending kits to virtual event attendees can add a fun factor and keep people engaged. Beyond that, you can include items that are essential to the virtual experience, such as a conference program, or bottles of wine for virtual wine tasting.
By sending an event kit to virtual event participants, you can achieve the following goals:
- Drive a deeper connection. When attendees receive a customized package at their door, it builds a bond with the upcoming event. In addition, the kit can contain essential elements that make the virtual experience more productive or enjoyable, such as printed program guides, gifts, collateral, swag, white paper, etc.
- Raise awareness. At Premier Press, we work with clients to send special kits to influencers. The delivery of the kits to influencers’ homes is timed with the opening of event registration.
- Increase event registration. Use custom packages as an incentive for users to register for the event. Feature a photo of the kit and list the items contained in it. On the event registration page, list applicable terms and conditions (e.g., “The first 200 people that register receive this special gift”).
- Boost attendance. Connect elements in the kit to giveaways during the live event. Similar to a raffle, include cards in the kit with a unique code per recipient. During the event, draw the winning card and announce the winning code to the audience.
- Ride the momentum with post-event kits. Send thank-you packages to your VIPs and ride the momentum and buzz that you created at the event.
In this post, we feature examples of packaged swag and provide you with ideas to consider for your own virtual events.
Here are ideas and examples that you can consider adding to your next event.
Thank you packages for annual galas
Non-profit organizations hold annual galas to thank members and donors. As a result of the pandemic, organizations are holding virtual galas that are free to attend. For example, Portland Center Stage at The Armory recently hosted a virtual gala titled “A Night at the Moulin Rouge.”
While it’s not possible to serve food and beverage at a virtual gala, you can always send the food to participants. Ideas to include in guest packages:
- Non-perishable food items
- Wine or liquor
- Wine glasses
- Branded party hats
- Printed admission tickets (e.g., to save as souvenirs)
- Thank you cards
- A letter from the President or Board
Welcome kits for incoming university students
While colleges are deciding between on-campus vs. online options for the Fall 2020 semester, a welcome kit could work nicely in either scenario. Premier Press helped the University of Oregon welcome new students in true Duck style.
To save weight and make the packaging sustainable, the outside box was made sturdy enough to serve as the shipping box. To keep mailing costs at a certain threshold, the Premier Press team weighed every piece, arranged them in the most compact way, and found the lightest materials.
Attendee event kits: Sprout Sessions Digital
Recently, Sprout Social hosted Sprout Sessions Digital 2020, a virtual event for Sprout customers. The goal was to equip customers with tools, resources, and conversations to develop their skills as social marketers.
The first 500 attendees to register were given the opportunity to receive a Sprout Session Digital package.
Here’s how they looked:
Presenter gift boxes: Reboot 2020
Event Geek hosted Reboot 2020, a virtual conference to help event planners adapt to the coronavirus challenge. Prior to the conference, Event Geek sent packages to presenters’ homes.
The package contained pens, a branded bag, two notebooks and a conference program. The printed conference program came in handy for the presenters: they could keep it right by their laptop all day, to check details of the next scheduled session.
Hearsay Systems: virtual summit supply drop
Becky Brewer, Senior Event Manager at Hearsay Systems, was part of the team that hosted Hearsay Summit, a two-day virtual event that was originally planned as a physical conference. Becky’s team sent “Virtual Summit Supply Drop” boxes to attendees. Each box included a Hearsay branded notebook and pen, a fun lightbox that allowed people to create their own message, a Rubik’s Cube for fidgeting, and individually wrapped premium toilet paper for levity.
A number of attendees took to social media to post photos of the boxes and thank the Hearsay team for sending them. Here is a sample post from LinkedIn:
Virtual wine tasting: California Wine Country and beyond
An AP article titled “Wineries offer virtual tastings amid coronavirus shutdown” highlighted George Webber, dressed as “The Count” Agoston Haraszthy, leading a virtual wine tasting event for Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, California. Wineries have used platforms such as Facebook Live to offer virtual tastings and to provide tours of the winery.
Customers order specific wine tasting kits, which are delivered to their homes ahead of time. When the virtual wine tasting goes live, customers can enjoy their selections along with the sommelier on the other end. Virtual wine tastings are becoming common during COVID-19 stay at home orders, but they will likely remain popular to engage with clientele that isn’t close by.
Six innovative event kit ideas
From our library of client projects, we picked out six of our favorite event kits:
- TEDx event book. A thought-provoking, memory-evoking collectors item that is also a useful connection to the Portland TED Talks event.
- Indianapolis Colts season ticket kit. Colts fans who bought advance tickets received them in a dramatic angular flapped, foil-wrapped box. The box made fans even more excited for the upcoming season.
- Xbox X Chips Ahoy GOW. To commemorate the highly anticipated sequel to the Gears of War franchise, Xbox teamed up with Chips Ahoy! and entrusted Premier Press to create an ammunition box similar to the ones seen throughout the expansive sci-fi world of Gears. A great example of Xbox teaming up with another brand.
- Bliss Poetic Waxing Influencer Kit. The package was sent to influencers and uses different textures and materials to engage multiple senses.
- DJO Surgical Packaging. This custom packaging was used to extend the brand, increase interactivity, and enhance the story.
- 20th Anniversary Space Jam. “Wow” your recipients. This kit, which was used to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the movie “Space Jam” had its top layer opened to play a Space Jam video clip.
The attendee perspective
Dennis Shiao, an independent marketing consultant, received a presenter kit for Reboot 2020 (see reference above). According to Dennis, “The event kit arrived at my door the day before the virtual conference. It was such a surprise! The kit included a printed schedule for the conference. I immediately placed the schedule next to my laptop. I referred to it during the entire event to determine which session to attend next.”
The event planners’ perspective
Becky Braud, an Event Strategist at Sprout Social, helped manage Sprout Sessions Digital 2020. For a virtual event, Becky challenged the team to find a way to have attendees feel that sense of belonging and attachment.
According to Becky, “This is where the idea of having a physical event kit came into play. We wanted our attendees to still feel the joy of attending an event where you have your essentials with you, such as an agenda, notepad, and branded swag item, as well as provide some surprise and delight moments with snacks and other treats. These packages encouraged attendees to set up their space and feel part of the experience, as opposed to participating more passively by simply tuning in in the background.”
Becky Brewer, who helped manage Hearsay Summit, included an agenda and a letter in their kits to create excitement and encourage social media participation. According to Becky, “I researched a lot of fun items that might be good for people who are more newly working from home, but the items we went with allowed for the most participation of the guests, to make them feel engaged and feel connected.”
Unlike an in-person event, it’s all too easy to tune out from an experience that is not interactive or engaging. You can venture off to Netflix or check your social media feeds. You might go and make yourself lunch. Sending event kits to attendees can add a fun factor and keep people engaged. Beyond that, you can include items that are essential to the virtual experience, such as a conference program, or bottles of wine for virtual wine tasting. There is a lot going on in the virtual world — keep your attendees motivated with a custom event kit.