Well-chosen incentives can boost business conference success

Choosing the right incentives and free giveaways for delegates can improve a company’s success at business conferences, according to an industry expert.

Traditionally, the main aim for firms setting up stalls at conference centres is to engage with delegates, generate new contacts and ultimately bring in new business.

Most exhibitors use a combination of brightly-coloured stands and friendly, well-dressed staff members to promote their brand. However, free incentives also play a key role in engaging delegates, and event manager Don Turner believes that the choice of incentives can make or break a company’s conference success.

In Turner’s view, the aim of free giveaways is to provide delegates with a reason to stop at an exhibitor’s stand and communicate with representatives. He says that the best way to do this is to offer free incentives that appeal to as many of the senses as possible, and cites a pasty company giving away free pasties as a good example of this.

Free sweets and chocolates are advised against, as most delegates will simply grab a few and move on to the next stall without stopping to interact. Turner says that USB sticks are an excellent choice of giveaway; they save on printing costs as they can be pre-loaded with company literature, and are genuinely useful for delegates after the conference has finished.

Ultimately, though, Turner concludes that free incentives will only have a real impact on delegates if they reflect your brand values and encourage interaction with representatives on the stall.  

“Overall the key thing to remember is that incentives do work if you plan them well, just don’t buy USB sticks, pens or notepads just for the sake of having them,” Turner says in his article.

“You should choose incentives that clearly fit with your brand, and are a bit different, quirky and give your stand staff the all important icebreaker with which to engage with more delegates,” he adds.