Summer's here, so why are talking about conference season? We're looking at promotional conference bags because it takes time to plan for a trade show.
Though the next few months may promise to be heady days of music and arts festivals, September's not so far away. The corporate season will be back in full swing before you know it, so now's the time to make sure you're be prepared with the right tote for the job.
What is a "conference bag", anyway? And what use are they? Are there any alternatives, and what else can branded document and conference folders be used for?
Conference bags – including document cases, or document wallets – are usually given away at gatherings of like-minded professionals, generally to hold supporting literature from the day's events. They are also commonplace at lectures ans seminars, be they academic or business.
Conference-goers get a branded conference handed to them at the entrance or found waiting at their seat, chock-a-block with information on the event and additional promotional items.
Size and design are important factors in helping you come up with the right conference bag ideas. Dimensions are informed by the paper sizes of documents (generally A3, A4 or A5). Most have a handle and a flap closure. Some document wallets also have additional pockets or holders for power banks, pens, flash drives and other accessories.
Materials vary, from low cost polypropylene "popper wallets" to more upmarket options made from nylon and even neoprene. Some folders can now even accommodate a laptop, as well as documents and literature, and often feature lightweight shoulder straps as well as carry handles.
But perhaps conference folders' real USP is the promotional aspect: clear branding helps to promote brand recognition, and ensures attendees won't forget the event.
And brand awareness lives on as delegates head home with their swag bags, displaying your logo far beyond the confines of the conference hall.
Of course, branded conference bags work best as a promotional tool in situations where there is a single host. As they are the only material received, the resulting "goodie bag" clearly associates good times with your conference bags. UK trade shows – which are generally larger – present a different challenge, as we explained in our blog about how to choose the right business bag. The competitive scenario of a big trade fair calls for bolder and brasher designs.
Packed and Prepared
So how do you choose the right bag for your conference? Consider the variables.
So you're probably thinking "budget", but there are other important factors too. What's going inside? Will it just be holding literature from the day, or will there be a promotional product pack too? Everything has to fit, so at Bags of Ideas we always suggest trying out a sample gift bag or two to test how well it all fits.
The actual promotional style is important too: conference gift bags are not always the easiest items to brand. Think about the required area for the design, the complexity and colourfulness of the logo, as well as the style.
Do you want a sleek embroidered design, or an impactful full-colour print? There might also be an event sponsor's logo, meaning additional designs need to be fitted in. If so, a bag with a large print area is essential.
Last but not least, consider your audience. Who's attending the conference, and what is the event focus?
If there's a green slant to proceedings – say a talk on improving environmental practices for business – shouldn't you consider, for example, a jute conference bag with an impeccable eco pedigree. On the other hand, if delegates are "tech savvy" then a more feature-packed tote with pockets galore may go down well.
Here are just some suggestions from our extensive collection, complete with examples of their use.
||A jute bag, ideal for an environmentally-focused event
||Kansas document bag, full off additional features, ideal for a tech crowd
Philadelphia Conference bag. Ideal for an event with additional, bulky giveaways, such as travel mugs
Beyond the Conference Hall
One of the biggest trends Bags of Ideas has seen in recent years is the take-up of standard printed conference bags by the educational sector, particularly academy schools.
For a school focused on public image, branded folders are the ideal solution to transporting the day's required reading to and from the campus. This increases public visibility of the school name and its crest, which can be hugely beneficial to local image and reputation.
Conference-style bags are now widely adopted by UK educational institutions, from major secondary school through to the local infants class, or even nursery.
There's no limit
Some may argue that the event-focus of a conference bag reduces its reach as tool for brand awareness. What guarantee that it will survive beyond the day of the show?
Conference bags have their uses, but if their principal objective is to raise your business profile, you need them to be used again and again.
If you have a conference coming up, think "outside the bag" when it comes to choosing your next giveaway. Instead of a "traditional style" carrier, how about a large shoulder tote instead? It might then be used as a work or school tote, or as a shopping bag. Not only will the user have an improved perception of your organisation, your brand will seen further afield.
And remember, just because you're hosting a conference, you don't have to use a "conference bag". Without increasing your budget you could provide a bag suitable for event attendees' requirements, which could also be reused again and again, for the trip to the local Tesco or the daily commute or trip to the gym. Bags of Ideas has a range of great ideas for shopper and shoulder bags. The right choice will guarantee a better return on investment and maximise brand awareness.
So if you have an upcoming conference, use your imagination. A conference bag can be used in more situations than you may think. And just because it's not called a conference bag, it doesn’t mean you can't use it at a conference.