A room gift is tricky business. First, the gift needs to appeal to a broad range of tastes so attendees don’t leave it behind at the hotel. Second, to be really successful, the gift should conjure up pleasant memories of the trip and the host. That’s a lot to ask of a hat or a T-shirt, but when a gift is both pragmatic and imbued with a strong sense of the destination, attendees are going to use it and remember the event.
Local and Lasting
If you’re planning to give food gifts, make sure they’re local and, preferably, lasting. Everyone enjoys a good truffle, but the gone-in-a-second sweets might not have the effect you’re after. On the other hand, guests who take home a jar of honey made from the bees on property at the Lodge at Glendorn, a small Relais & Chateaux property in Bradford, Pa., will be reminded of their stay for months to come.
When Hyatt Hotels Corp. held its Insurance and Financial Business Exchange at the new Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica last summer, a bamboo smartphone amplifier was a fitting room gift. The hollow tube magnifies the sound coming out of the phone’s small speakers—no electricity required—and ties in with hotel’s gorgeous setting on Culebra Bay and the natural materials used in hotel’s construction.
Let’s face it, most coffee table books don’t get looked at very often, but a favorite room gift for Kathy Fort Carty’s clients is Ski Town Soups, a cookbook with destination photos almost as yummy as the recipes themselves. Carty is president and CEO of DSC Events, which provides destination services for groups in Colorado, Utah, and the Lake Tahoe area. The book includes stews, bisques, chilis, and chowders from chefs at 60 ski resorts around the country.
Portugal produces about 50 percent of the cork harvested annually, so for a program in Lisbon, the team at Creative Group found a local vendor to create cork bags to hold participants’ departure materials. “After the incentive trip, the participants used their cork cases for their Kindles or as a clutch, while remembering their experience in Portugal. We received many compliments,” says Wendy Shive, marketing manager.
If your destination has a board or card game that was established in that region or is a favorite pastime, Daphne Church, Enterprise Events Group, says that is a great way to provide participants with entertainment, history, and a souvenir. “We selected a leather-bound Domino set for a program in Anguilla, and a Cachito (Liar Dice) set for an event in Peru. If the game is from a local artisan, and personalized, even better,” she says.
For a Napa program, Creative Group came up with a gift that got better every day. On the first night, attendees received a “riddling rack” made from wine barrel wood, and then each night attendees found new bottles in it from the wineries they’d visited. By the end of the trip, the rack was mostly full, and everything got shipped back to attendees’ homes.
When in Rome… That’s the thinking behind a room gift idea from SDI Travel. For a program on Nantucket island off the coast of Massachusetts, famously home to boat shoes and other preppy styling, SDI suggests giving the men a pair of shorts in the island’s dress code: either Nantucket Red or blue-and-white seersucker.
Sometimes it’s not the gift you take from a destination, but the one you leave behind. Groups meeting on the Big Island can join Hawaiian Legacy Tours for a koa tree–planting event in the Hawaiian Legacy Forest at Kukaiau Ranch on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Since 2013, the organization has been replanting ranch land to rebuild the koa forest. The rare tree grows nowhere else on Earth. The room gift: the personalized reforestation certificate, which details their koa’s unique RFID number and GPS coordinates, allowing them to revisit it via Google Earth.
Next Gallery: Trade-Show Giveaways