The Conference Swag HR Pros Want Most #SHRM19

A few weeks ago, I asked the question, “What’s your favorite type of conference swag?” A huge thanks for sharing your thoughts! I must say that I’m a bit surprised at the results. Here they are:


  1. Food and drink related items were at the top of the list. I wasn’t surprised at the requests for Yetis – they’re one of my all-time personal faves. But I was happily surprised at the mentions of stainless straws and chip clips. I’m hoping we see both of those in the expo this year.
  1. Coming in second was clothing, another surprise to me. I would have put t-shirts a lot further down on the requested conference swag list. And it was interesting to hear about the number of people who are into conference socks! They’re a collectable item.
  1. Tied for third place were office supplies and technology. Let’s address office supplies first. Personally, I love good office supplies – nice pens, good highlighters, fun sticky notes, and journals are great. Cheap office supplies are well, cheap. If you’re going to give away office supplies, they need to be top notch.
  1. I was surprised that technology placed so low. The only thing I can figure is that people want the technology accessories that they want, so tech swag isn’t appealing. I can also see some tech swag not being compatible with all devices, which may be a drawback.
  1. Finally, health and wellness was last. I don’t believe this is because people don’t want to take care of themselves. The conversation about wellbeing and self-care is at an all time high. Like technology, I figure that people have their own preferences, so it becomes difficult to make everyone happy.

I’m really hoping that there are a bunch of HR conferences and HR vendors that take this list seriously. First, there are some really original ideas for conference swag! Second, the last thing any event wants to do is buy a bunch of swag that no one wants. Marketing departments do not want to come home from a major event with boxes of leftover swag. What they want is to run out of swag. They want people to take pictures of their swag and post it on Instagram.

So, here’s to finding your favorite conference swag at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition. Or frankly at any event you attend.


Originally posted on the HR Bartender blog.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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