There are endless ways to surprise and delight your event attendees, speakers, and sponsors in a digital world. If you're planning a virtual event, this list of virtual gift ideas will help inspire you with some ideas to get you started.
COVID-19 has completely altered the live events landscape. Many events have had to pivot to virtual conferences. Which raises an important question: what gifts should you give attendees, speakers, and sponsors when you can't give them the physical offerings you were planning to?
We’ve created a list of 19 virtual gift ideas across 4 distinct categories that you can feel confident about sending at your virtual event.
And if you’re looking for some examples to get you inspired, check out these virtual event ideas.
1. Cocktail Kit
Source: Cocktail Courier
A great way to boost audience engagement is by sending them a gift that they can use to participate virtually in your event. For example, if you’re hosting a hybrid happy hour or virtual networking session, your attendees can use their cocktail kits to make their drinks at home and feel like they are a part of the action.
2. Swag Box
One of the aspects that we all miss about in-person events is swag. From t-shirts and mugs to water bottles - and even face masks - it’s a great way to keep your brand top of mind for your participants or partners. Plus, you’re giving them something useful and tangible. You can use lots of companies to send out branded swag to your participants, like Swag, or Caroo. There are so many fun promotional items you can put your logo on these days, the sky's the limit with this one.
Nice Ways to Say Thank You
3. Personalized Thank You Card
Personal thank you cards never go out of style. In fact, they're so rarely sent these days, your recipients will likely appreciate them more than some of the other gift ideas on this list. To send a stellar digital thank you card, you can use services such as Paperless Post and Smilebox.
4. Personalized Video Shoutout
Imagine having Flavor Flav, Sean Astin, or Andrew Zimmern thank your tribe for attending/participating in your event! Pretty cool, right? Take your thank you to the next level with a video shoutout via Cameo. If you're not familiar with the platform, Cameo lets you purchase personalized video messages from your favorite celebrities and send them to others. The cost for each celebrity varies. Once you determine your budget, you can find a great celebrity that fits your needs.
This is a truly one-of-a-kind digital gift idea. Plus, personalization is a great way to engage your audience. People really respond when you go above and beyond with the effort of a personalized gift.
5. Gift Card
Everyone loves a classic gift card. And in today’s digital world, you’ve got lots of options.
Do you know who shops at Amazon? Just about everyone. Which makes an Amazon gift card a great option for any conference. It's also super easy to use and allows the recipient to use it on anything they choose.
Maybe a gift card to a restaurant fits your company's brand better. Just make sure that you choose a restaurant that all of your recipients like if you use this digital gift idea. Companies like Darden or Bloomin Brands have multiple options on it, which is a safe bet.
Bonus benefit: this gift will allow you to support the restaurant industry, which has had an especially difficult time dealing with the virus.
Source: Uber Eats
Most people enjoy eating out. Unfortunately, we aren't able to do that right now because of COVID-19 and events surrounding it. But many restaurants are still able to deliver food to hungry patrons via services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates. A food delivery voucher from one of these businesses is sure to please your recipients.
6. Tactile Marketing Solutions
Looking for something a little more personal than a gift card? Try a tactile marketing solution from Sendoso, Thnks, or Alyce. These platforms each feature tools that allow you to give gifts to your conference attendees via cutting-edge technology. These tools include automation, real-time notifications, measurement, and more. So, while Sendoso, Thnks, and Alyce aren’t gift ideas, per se, they are valuable and allow companies to easily provide amazing gifts to their audience.
7. Digital Bullet Journal
Source: Ellagant Studios
Many people enjoy bullet journals because they seamlessly combine their normal day planner, diary, and written meditation notebook into one powerful tool proven to reduce stress and boost productivity. Send a digital version to each of your conference attendees and participants as a top-notch digital gift. Check out some stores on Etsy - there are many options to choose from!
8. 16personalities Test
The 16personalities test is a fantastic way to learn more about yourself and why you tend to react to different situations the way you do. This information is invaluable for self-development. Why not give your attendees the gift of self-love?
9. Online Course
If your event is meant to educate your audience, you could gift them courses from popular marketplaces like Udemy or Masterclass. Whether your attendees are interested in sales and marketing courses or other skills like cooking and photography, choose whatever professional course site speaks your event’s tone and fits within your budget.
You can also give your recipients an in-depth eBook that will educate them on a specific topic. For example, Bizzabo has created the Why In-Person? eBook that teaches readers why live events are so valuable and includes insights from industry leaders at IBM, Forbes, and Adobe. This gift idea is also a great event marketing strategy as it allows you to promote your brand even after your conference concludes.
11. Private Virtual Lessons
Source: Your Space Music Lessons
Learning new things is fun and exciting. That's why private virtual lessons are a great digital gift idea. You can purchase a month's worth of music, art, language, computer skills… Any kind of lesson you can think of, really. The best part is, these lessons will be hosted via the internet and personalized to each of your recipients, ensuring they get the best training possible. Take Lessons is a great platform that will allow you to buy lessons in a variety of different fields.
12. Discounted Tickets to Next Year's Conference
Source: Marketing Land
One of the easiest ways to reward your attendees and event crew for their support is to give them a discounted ticket to next year's gathering, which will (hopefully!) be an in-person soiree. This digital gift is great because it's beneficial to your audience and perceived as high value, but doesn't create an additional expense for your company. Win!
Memberships and Subscriptions
13. Video Streaming Memberships
Video streaming services are having a moment right now. When people are forced to stay indoors, Netflix and its many competitors become the logical choice for entertainment. Give your audience what they want and gift them a monthly subscription to a video streaming service. Here are a few options:
- Netflix: As the unquestioned leader in this category, no video streaming list is complete without Netflix. The platform has a host of amazing movies and shows to binge.
- Hulu: It's not as popular as Netflix, but Hulu is still a great option. Also, because it's not as widely used, there's a better chance your audience doesn't already have it.
- Disney+: Your audience members aren't the only ones quarantined right now; their kids are too. Gift them a subscription to Disney+ and help them entertain their kids so that they can work from home more effectively during COVID-19.
There are plenty of other video streaming services as well. Choose the one that fits your audience best and give them a month or two of free membership. They'll appreciate it, guaranteed.
14. Virtual Gym Memberships
Maybe Netflix and chill just doesn't fit your event strategy or brand. So if your audience would prefer to get off the couch and move, a virtual gym membership is the way to go. Here are a few top options worth considering:
- Fiit: The Fiit exercise platform is high-quality and super fun. Members also receive heart monitor chest straps, which help evaluate workout performance via the Fiit app.
- Plankk Studio: Plankk Studio features thousands of both live and on-demand workouts. Members also have the ability to talk with instructors and ask questions as they go for a more personalized experience.
- Tone It Up: The Tone It Up app is made by women, for women, which makes it a unique option for any audience that primarily consists of female-identifying people.
Don't forget about Yoga plus other forms of exercise too! All of these membership types fall under the virtual gym category.
15. Subscription Boxes
Source: Retail TouchPoints
Subscription boxes have exploded in popularity over the last few years and are one of our favorite virtual gift ideas. In general, new members fill out a survey so that the service understands their wants and needs. Then the service sends a box of goodies to them every month based on their preferences. Here are a few memberships to choose from:
- Cratejoy: Cratejoy has many different categories and allows members to really customize what they receive in their boxes. From health and wellness to foods and beverages, a Cratejoy membership should work for all event types and audiences.
- Book of the Month: Does your audience love to read? Then you can't go wrong with Book of the Month, a subscription service that does exactly what you think it would: send its members a new book to read every single month.
- Birchbox: Birchbox aims to make beauty and grooming simple for women by sending them quality products, such as makeup, shampoos, conditioners, and face cleansers every month. Give the ladies in your audience some well-deserved "me time."
16. Audio Subscriptions
Source: Nieman Lab
The final digital gift idea we have in this category is an audio subscription. This includes Amazon's Audible, Spotify and Apple Music, and Luminary, a podcast app that gives listeners access to premium content for a small monthly fee. Analyze your audience and consider giving the gift of audio as a thank you for participating in your event.
17. Named Donation
Digital gift-giving, like many aspects of corporate event management, can be difficult to get right. Fortunately, you can never go wrong by donating to charities and important causes in your audiences' name. For example, you could give funds to Charity:Water to help provide clean drinking water to people in developing nations. Or World Vision, which ensures children around the world have the sustenance they need to live full lives. These digital gift ideas put your company's money to amazing use and also allows your audience to feel like they're doing good in the world.
18. Micro-lending Gift Card
If you're looking for another way to donate money on behalf of your participants, try giving them a micro-lending gift card from Kiva. Here's how it works:
- Borrowers apply for loans on the Kiva network
- Each loan request goes through an underwriting and approval process
- The loan is posted on the Kiva platform for lenders to support
- Borrowers repay the loans
Kiva awards loans to people who are either financially excluded or actively working to better their communities. Loans are available in 80 different countries and can be granted to folks in a wide variety of different industries.
Takeaways: Virtual Gift Ideas
There are plenty of options when it comes to digital gift-giving. From food delivery vouchers to subscription boxes, we hope you now have a few ideas you can use to wow your conference attendees and partners at your next virtual event.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you choose the perfect gifts:
- Be Creative: Gift-giving in 2021 will look different than it used to. You’ll need to get creative and think outside the box to make sure your gifts hit the mark. Look carefully through the virtual gift ideas above and choose the one(s) that best fit your company's event branding and recipient preferences.
- Go Beyond B2B Event Marketing: You'll notice that only a few of the ideas above are business-related. That's okay. Remember where your attendees, speakers, etc. are right now: stuck at home in quarantine. Which means they need things to do. Your gifts will be much appreciated if they provide entertainment.
- Make it Heartfelt: Gift-giving should always be heartfelt so take your time when selecting on. This will show that you truly value the folks who made your virtual event ideas a reality.
The right gifts can boost event ROI by fostering goodwill between your company and the gift recipients. They can also increase the likelihood of virtual attendees purchasing tickets for future virtual, hybrid, or in-person conferences.