To swag or not to swag?

Goodie bag. Gift bag. Party favor. Turndown gift. To one degree or another, all have been used in hospitality, but the latest trend to gift your guests with is the “you never know what you’re going to receive” swag bag! 

The surprise element of a swag bag will delight any recipient, as it’s not filled with traditional giveaways but rather creative and off-the-wall, never-before-seen products. The swags we read about in magazines contain multiple gifts, but for hospitality, mixing and matching three to five unique giveaways will do wonders to impress a guest.

Pulling off a memorable bag of swag requires constant sourcing of offbeat and new products. Assembling a seasonal rotation of swag in a unique bag or box is also key. Gone are the silk tied bags or traditional gift bags filled with tissue and useless household items branded with corporate insignia. 

Above and beyond the expected hotel offerings such as impeccable service and reputable amenities, the swag bag is how hotels can offer an upgraded amenity for frequent guests and VIPs. Due to their cost being slightly higher than general giveaways, you do need to think thoroughly about who the lucky recipients will be and managing the number of contents. 

Swag bags can have themes including spa products that pamper; locally sourced edibles and beverages; seasonal items (think fun-in-the-sun products); his-, her- and kid-themed bags; or a mixture of unrelated products.

After a recent role creating the green room space at a popular gift lounge during the Oscar festivities, I was the fortunate recipient of a press-worthy swag bag. It was the same bag that wowed a few of the nominees who attended the event, and although the number of items is not feasible as a giveaway for most hotels, the products were fabulously creative and something I’ll never forget! The contents were:

  • Midnight snack box in a wooden cigar box
  • Complimentary coupons at local establishments (spas and restaurants)
  • Cozy his-and-hers socks
  • Bubble bath kit for kids
  • A variety of rubber ducks themed for each season
  • Power-stick portable charger
  • A bracelet device to take better selfies
  • Caviar wax beads (in lieu of candles)
  • Mini-umbrella
  • Metallic pens
  • Stainless steel pen with a flashlight
  • Abalone coaster
  • Keychain flashlight
  • Flip-flops
  • Boxed bottled water
  • Rhinestone-encrusted Band-Aids
  • Fragrance samples
  • Metal-handled toothbrush with brush cover
  • Brownie chips

If your hotel offers VIP gifts, please share what you are currently offering. Do you plan to revisit what you’re giving away? Remember, when it comes to swag, it’s all about offering something unusual and at least three options in a unique bag or box. Can’t wait to receive your feedback!