Amenity Experiences Take Off

amenity experiences
Maui Jim pioneered amenity experiences in the incentive space.

Amenity experiences have grown in popularity as planners work to make gifting more memorable, according to the latest findings of the Incentive Research Foundation.

Imagine being fitted for sunglasses as fellow attendees, watching, cheer you on. Or perhaps contributing a brush stroke as performance artist John Bukaty creates a painting reflective of your meeting’s destination and/or goals and then taking home a signed and numbered giclée. Amenity experiences like these are on the rise as a part of incentive programs, according to the latest figures from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF).

In fact, 58 percent of respondents reporting using a marketplace as an engaging way to deliver event gifts, up from 43 percent last year. “The study doesn’t speak to the reasons for this trend, but the popularity of amenity rooms and marketplace-style gifting does reflect two important industry trends,” said Stephanie Harris, IRF president. “First is the strong movement to increase personalization throughout the event experience, from gifting to dining to how content is delivered. People want to be recognized as unique. A marketplace lets each attendee go away feeling they had an opportunity to select something special to them. This is especially useful when a group is very diverse.”

The other trend is about being more experiential, Harris noted. “There is a big difference between a room drop and an experience where you go into a room and select your gift. This is particularly true for incentives, where guests may go from table to table selecting their gifts.”

The IRF’s Industry Outlook for 2020: Merchandise, Gift Card, and Event Gifting study revealed a notable shift in top priorities, Harris said. “Memorability” rose from 25 percent in 2019, to 30 percent in 2020, while “budget” dropped from 50 percent to 43 percent. Attendee delight remained the number one consideration for 38 percent of respondents. “But it’s not either/or; it is possible to keep within your budget and still provide a variety of gifts in an experiential way that delights attendees.”

Maui Jim, which marks its 20th anniversary next year, has been a pioneer in amenity experiences. “Our brand is more than a name on a pair of sunglasses; it is an experience and an attitude, and everyone leaves with a joyous feeling of aloha,” said Brett Hatch, director of corporate gifts. “Every employee is trained to the max on the technology of glasses and they lead guests to the right choice for their preferred activities and face type so they can select with confidence.”

The experience of selecting Maui Jim glasses is personal and interactive, added Beth Stewart, marketing specialist, corporate gifts. “Fellow guests weigh in as each guest tries on different glasses, adding a team-building aspect. We especially love it when the CEO or other executive sits at the table with us and thanks each recipient for their hard work.”

Gift-giving also can tie into the event theme and provide a CSR component to foster an emotional connection between the gift and the event, said Doug Chorpenning, chief visionary officer & founder of wet paint group. Experiential presentations of boutique-style gifts and “#GiftingwithGivebacks!” are key components of all wet paint group programs.

Giclées of paintings by performance artist John Bukaty, Tense Watches (wooden timepieces), and 1950s-inspired Bluetooth speakers from Muzen are just a few of the attention-grabbing gifts that Wet Paint Group offers in marketplace-style and other experiential presentations. “We make sure that our gifts are not things someone would find in their hometown mall, and guests enjoy knowing that they are doing something good in addition to getting a cool gift,” he said.

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