Best Practices: The Benefits of a Gift Catalog

Gift catalogs let attendees choose goods they will appreciate

Website advice
When designing your gift website, make sure the product descriptions are accurate and well written, and the images are crisp and match the real items attendees will receive. Do a trial run before the site goes live, so any kinks are worked out before recipients log in.

• Manage your gift budget by selecting gifts that fall within a similar price range. Also, determine the most cost-effective method of shipping.

Request samples of all items to ensure the quality meets your expectations.

Give recipients a time frame for when they can expect their gifts to be delivered.

Let's face it: The instances where attendees are truly and genuinely thrilled with the gifts they receive at an event are few and far between. One-size-fits-all doesn't work when it comes to corporate gifts -- and how many logoed T-shirts or phone chargers can a person use or want to lug home? All too often, such products are left behind in the hotel room.

To make the gifting process simple, meaningful and seamless, consider creating a custom gift catalog and website.

Catalogs -- whether printed or online -- typically showcase a diverse selection of gifts, including home accessories, electronics, jewelry and clothing. They can be customized to ensure there is something with appeal to everyone in the group demographic.

A corresponding website, which attendees access via a code, displays pictures and descriptions of all the items. The process works much like online shopping: The attendee makes a selection, provides a preferred shipping address and receives a confirmation number once the order is placed.

It's helpful to set a deadline for  attendees to select their  gifts. A good rule of thumb is within three weeks of the meeting.

Corporate gifting affords many opportunities for reinforcing the company's brand or event theme. Company logos should be included on the print catalog and website. Additionally, gifts can be imprinted with logos or any takeaway themes from the meeting.

When gifts are shipped, enclose a small card with an inscription outlining a key message from the meeting. And consider using logoed packing tape, so that each box is prominently branded.

Another way to reinforce the corporate message: Include a thank-you note from the company's or organization's president or CEO on the first page of the catalog.

To find a vendor that can handle everything from soup to nuts -- securing the gifts, building the website, designing the catalog, and handling the tracking and shipping of all items --check with your current gift suppliers, as many offer these turnkey services. Another option is to find one through an industry organization such as the Incentive Marketing Association ( or the Promotional Products Association International (

As a general rule, it's best not to parcel out these individual tasks to several different companies, as there are many moving parts that can impact the success of the program.

As for cost, turnkey service means budgeting a bit more for gifts. However, by spending about $50 per person, you should be able to offer a selection of quality goods that participants are sure to appreciate.

Linda Spelling is owner/president of Buzz Inc., a full-service corporate meeting planning company based in Northern New Jersey.