The issue of sustainable swag is one that has not been adequately addressed to date. Simply put, even attempts at making more environmentally responsible or recyclable physical swag still produce mountains of trash—much of it plastic—and the production and distribution of these items uses resources and energy, as does the recycling.
What About a Sustainable Swag Wallet?
Enter the concept of the universal digital swag wallet. Instead of the usual physical swag, exhibitors would simply scan a QR code from an attendee badge and/or smartphone, and a certain amount of points would be sent to the attendee’s digital wallet.
The wallet would be universal in the sense that all exhibitors in any show would be sending their points to the same digital wallet clearinghouse, thereby allowing attendees to accrue points from various events, to be combined and used at their discretion for items or gift cards from the usual loyalty program sources (Amazon, Best Buy, etc.). It would allow the attendees to actually get something they need and will use. Of course, the points could alsdo be donated to charitable causes, including organizations devoted to sustainability.
The process would entail sending an email to the attendee after the event, which they would have to open and activate by clicking a link to their wallet in order to deposit the points. Of course, the email would include info about the exhibitor and their products/services—which is the ultimate objective of swag in the first place.
Clearly, that would be far more effective than a physical item of dubious value with a simple corporate logo and little else. And the rate of opening, reading and acting would be exceptional.
But There’s More
There could be additional incentives in the email to provide even more points, based on additional attendee interactions such as clicking on a link to view a video, filling out a questionnaire, or clicking on a link to a corporate landing page that could be personalized to suit the viewer’s specific demographic buying profile.
As with the post-show email activation message, there could also be tiers of points awarded based on the activity of the attendee in the booth while at the show. More interaction, more points.
The single universal platform is an important cornerstone. In addition to the obvious one-stop value for the attendee, this model helps to level the playing field for smaller exhibitors with limited budgets. They could offer something of real value to the attendee, and thus be part of the same program as the big dogs on the exhibit floor.
While not the primary focus of the program, event organizers could also benefit by offering incentive points for attendees to register early, for example. Additional points could be awarded in various ways, such as to attendees who complete more detailed questionnaires when registering for the event.
The question of who develops and operates the platform is also a critical consideration. This is clearly not a project to be undertaken by Alliance Media Strategies alone. I’ve chosen to release this concept publicly to see who would be interested in further discussion, after being energized by The Nest Climate Campus (Britton Jones, Sharon Enright, NXT Events Group), as well as the Sustainable Events Summit during Climate Week in NYC (Marty Glynn, Martha Donato, Mad Events Mgt.) at the Javits Center, which, led by Alan Steel, is really “walking the sustainable walk.”
Rob Weissman is president of Alliance Media Strategies which provides bespoke consulting services to the exhibition, conference, and events industries, utilizing the best practices of observational analysis, scientific method, and social, behavioral, and group psychology; combined with more than two decades of hands-on event creation and management. For info regarding biz-dev, event production, speaking and writing, visit www.alliancemediastrat.com