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Conferences and Exhibitions

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Conferences and Exhibitions
About a year ago, Bags of Ideas looked Exhibitions and Trade shows. You can find the original blog at Exhibitions and Tradeshows.  However, reading it back, we realized there’s so much more to tell you about in terms of getting your bag choice right on the big day. So, here is the all new definitive guide to exhibitions, conferences and tradeshows. We aim to show you what the best bags are – depending on your budget – the benefits to using bags at events, and how they can continue to push your brand long after the day has finished.

Choosing the Right Bag

Get it wrong, and it’s a wasted marketing opportunity. Get it right, and you will reap the benefits long after the lights have dimmed and stands have been packed up. First, think about the type of event you are going to be exhibiting at. Each of the suggestions below has it’s own special requirements. For example, a small paper bag at a University Fair will not be much use with the bulky, heavyweight prospectuses that they will be expected to carry:
boi Conference
boi Trade Show/Exhibition
boi Festival
boi University/Career Fair
Further than this you should also consider the following factors when looking at the bags. If you can nail both lists before making a decision, you‘ll be on the right track.
boi How many people are expected to visit?
boi How many people are exhibiting?
boi How long is the event?
boi How much literature you have (and possibly others)?
boi Will people be walking, or sitting?
boi How large is the venue?
boi What’s the theme of the day (Eco, IT etc.)?
boi What’s your budget?
Now you can start thinking which bag will help you get the most out of your event or perhaps even run through some scenarios.


There are two definitions of the term conference within our context.
1 A formal meeting of people with a shared interest, typically one that takes place over several days
2 A commercial association for the regulation of an area of activity or the exchange of information
Just look at this picture of a typical commercial conference to see immediately some factors to consider …
boi There is limited space,
boi Everyone is sitting down, and
boi Everyone is taking notes.
Exhibitions and Trade shows

People going to conferences are likely to have a bag when they arrive to carry notebooks, laptops and other personal items, so depending on the amount of literature you are giving away, it’s best to keep your giveaway bag to a minimum size; a document wallet would be an ideal solution from our section Conference & Document with any of the below being suitable:


On the other hand, sometimes people are paying to be at a conference, and may have travelled from afar to be there. In this case, your promotional bag could be something a little more special. For example, a lecture on ICT – for which the audience have paid to see – might be the perfect place to offer a nice Laptop Bag. It will still hold all the leaflets and brochures but its use would continue long after the event, acting as a memento of their participation.

WAll of these can be offered as branded conference giveaways at reasonable unit cost which you can be certain will be retained by the receiver.


It’s even worth considering a notebook within the bag to at such conferences, which can be supplied within the bag itself, and used to record the important information from the day. Have a look at our notebooks section here.

Tradeshows/ Exhibition

The dynamics of trade shows are very different to conferences. They normally consist of a large space, divided into stands, with a variety of different business trying to sell or promote their ideas or products.


With trade shows, especially product-based ones rather than services, your choice of bag should be dictated by practicality. Every stand will be trying to give visitors something to remember them by. So they will obviously need a big bag to carry all their booty, be it catalogues, flyers, other promotional items or samples.

For this reason, the bag also needs to be heavy duty with strong handles and durable construction. So, while a paper bag might not be quite what you are looking for, a large canvas bag, or woven bag with a gusset would be ideal.

Also think about user comfort; a bag with dual handles will allow them to alternate between using shoulders and hands to carry it.

It’s also worth pointing out that at any of these EVERYONE will be giving out bags. Simply put, the biggest and strongest bag will win because it will be the bag that everybody puts their smaller bags inside. The aim should be to ensure your branded carrier is the must-have bag because it will be the one that gets the most visibility on the day.



Festivals are another matter: festival-goers are not usually there to buy things, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t marketing opportunities.

It all depends on the context. Take for example, the Great British Beer Festival – held every August. The GBBF is not so much a festival as a trade show albeit with a party atmosphere.

In contrast, as a music festival organiser you’ll most likely be giving away a pack to everyone who enters with some event essentials: Sun cream, baby wipes, event programme, sunglasses, etc. Provided in the correct bag, this could be a great advertising tool, not only throughout the event but afterwards.

Here too the choice of bag is important. At festivals, the last thing most people want to do is carry a bag by hand – therefore the best option would be a rucksack of sort, either a drawstring, or small backpack.


University/Career Fairs

Like the GBBF these almost always resemble a trade show, the big difference is that you can guarantee everyone there will have hefty prospectuses or company brochures and that there will be a lot of universities/businesses there on the day. By the end of the day, the students will no doubt have their hands full with literature on which university or career to choose.

So your starting point in terms of bags would be to go for something similar to the recommendations in the Trade Show section. But if you wanted to ensure that the bag was ideal, you could opt for the bespoke route, offering something even bigger, with dual handles and even a zip, giving you more flexibility than the choices from of the shelf.

For more information on bespoke options, visit our Bespoke Page .

Other Variables

Of course, the event you go to is not the only determining factor when picking a suitable bag for the day. There are many others that should be considered.

The first thing you should always consider is the budget and the number of bags you need. Find out how many people will be visiting the event, how many days the event is and do the sums. What is you max unit cost?

Always remember that £2 per unit will go much further on 1000 bags than it will on 100 bags.

Generally Speaking, paper bags and carrier bags are the most cost effective option. And when we drift towards laptop bags and more specialist items, these become more expensive.

Cotton and Polypropylene tend to be the most popular bags, as prices wise they are affordable, and they are fit for purpose.

Think about the event when choosing the bag too – if it’s a conference on the environment, maybe a bag made form plastic might not be suitable. If the event is out doors on the other hand, a cotton bag might not be suitable it the heavens open.

Why you need to choose right

Whatever bag you decide to choose for your event, make sure it is worth the expenditure. The bag, of course, has a purpose on the day, but if you get it right, you will continue to benefit form the right choice. The bag should be an item that who ever receives it, keeps it long beyond the event, increasing the visibility of your logo over and over – whether it’s a trip to the supermarket or the commute to work. It should not be an item that once the event is over, it ends up in the bin.

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