​How to Avoid “Hoteling”

August 9, 2018

How to Avoid “Hoteling”

Hoteling has become a dirty word around the gifting space. It refers to the act of a gift recipient, usually a VIP simply leaving their gift where they found it or taking it back to the hotel and leaving it. This process is often painful for those giving the gift as there is almost always plenty of thought, time and money that was put into the gift.

What causes this to phenomenon happen? Clearly it isn’t a lack of care or cost on the side of the event planners. Often times there are weeks on weeks of planning and thousands spent on servicing guests and VIPs. Let’s break down some of the common issues that cause gifts to be left by the wayside and how to fix them to make a meaningful impact on the people you care most about.

Problem: It isn’t personal
In speaking with event and tournament directors the biggest reason that something will be ignored is simple: the person doesn’t feel engaged on a relatable level. If you think back to the best gifts you have received they will often be something that hits very close to home. An autographed copy of your favorite book, a game used piece of apparel from a favorite player or even just a piece of clothing that is your fit and style, personal goods mean a lot. This being said, that isn’t very practical past a very small critical mass and is tough to achieve.

Solution: Ensure personalization
I was given a small piece of advice early in my career. Try to remember everyone’s name, it’s the easiest and most important way to connect to them. By placing someone’s name on a gift, there is an immediate connection. It is a simple step and often a forgotten step in gift giving.

The basic level is simply place a card on it that says “For [Name]” while the best plans would involve personalization on the gift itself, such as engraving or screen printing their name on the item. A great example is a blank jersey vs a jersey with their name on their back, simple difference but huge effect.

Problem: Can’t be taken home
This is one that strikes close to home as we live in wine country on the Central Coast. I have seen several event coordinators attempt to give large amounts of wine as gifts. This issue runs all the way through a case of wine, half case or even just a bottle. It can be an issue to transport, especially if the recipient flew in. If they didn’t have a checked bag they can’t fly it back home, and to end up having to ship it, a headache in itself, drink it there and then, or leave it.

This isn’t just a legal transport issue either. When gifting several items or bulky items they often logistically can’t make it back home. Big gift bags that are packed to the gills with bags of treats and food they can find elsewhere often aren’t worth the stress to pack.

Solution: Consolidate Gifts
For large events it is always smart to bet someone had to fly there. Rather than counting on a wide spread of gifts, try to focus on a few really meaningful gifts or even one very nice gift. Make sure whatever you gift, it is easy to take back home. Large gift baskets make for great presentation pieces but can prove bulky and difficult to handle. We recommend something around the size of a breadbox or smaller for anything you expect to be taken home.

If you are going to gift a perishable make sure it is relatively shelf stable and speaks to your team specifically. When your clients think back on the event you want them to remember something they can’t get anywhere else and for it to have a sense of place. Also ensure that there aren’t legal transportation issues. While gifts like alcohol may help give a sense of place moving them in a plane or even across state lines can be a disaster.

Problem: The gift is generic
When gifting it is easy to get caught in the loop thinking that because an item has an obvious purpose with widespread appeal recipients will enjoy it. The line of thought is smart but often flawed. VIPs often get a similar line of gifts from other events and will be swamped with the same items. Coolers, hats, speakers and headphones all fit into a category that is universally appealing but you only need one. Putting your logo onto a gift does not separate it enough from the same item with a different logo.

Solution: Speak straight from the heart

When gifting make something they truly can’t get elsewhere. Something that either speaks to your company or your area is a great place to start. Otherwise look for things that can form a collection despite being one of a kind. No one will notice if the logo on the cooler changes but people will care about the style of their higher end gifts changes. No matter how many rings the Warriors or the Patriots win they will always want more because the gift is that good. That is the goal with a good gift. Get them something that is great because your recipient is one a kind and this will remind them of that.

We always strive to create gifts that can’t be left behind. If you have a gift from a sports or business event that you will never forget let me know at Stephan@mdemille.com

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