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More Than Swag

By: Andy Longo | Dec 1, 2018

I attend a lot of trade shows and meet with a lot of hotel and destination sales folks.  Typically, these meetings are delightful, informative get to know you conversations.  My style is somewhat informal…. lots of laughs (at least in my own mind!), frankness, realistic timelines for upcoming events, key needs and anything else I can provide to paint a picture of the organization I represent.  Likewise, I expect honesty, sincerity, an aggressive approach but not too pushy, and, of course, a good deal.  These meetings and conversations, if on a trade show floor, often end with the receiving of swag. The baubles are often bestowed in a gift bag with a nice card thanking me for meeting and please keep them in mind for future consideration.  I examine the bag immediately for items to consume.  Is there candy?  Cookies?  Mints? Nuts?   I also promptly redeem all Starbucks cards! Over the years, I’ve received coffee, batteries, pens, letter openers, markers, stuffed animals, luggage tags, key chains, water bottles, mugs, picture frames, candles, that odd purse hanging thing for a desk, umbrellas, salsa, smart phone holders, 20-year calendars, coasters, sticky notes to name a few.  When I receive these items, bags full after a trade show, I take them home and share with the kids.  It’s like Christmas year-round!  While the gifts are appreciated, although not life altering, there is one I’ve kept and display proudly.

I conducted a site visit to the Horizon Convention Center in Muncie, Indiana several years ago.  It was a standard site visit (meet, greet, tour) but memorable in two ways.  I met with the entire sales staff including senior leadership of the Center.  They made it clear that my business was important and their sincerity flowed through.  Their proposal reflected that sincerely. I also received a very nice desk clock.  I’m a sucker for quality swag!  This was a fine piece with “Horizon Convention Center” etched on the front.  It was heavy and something not to be discarded so quickly.  I display it on my desk as a reminder of an excellent site visit AND what I really value.  A relationship built upon genuine sincerity, authentic friendship, professionalism and mutual respect. 

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