Gifts are an exciting part of the holiday season, but for planners, it is a year-round activity, since swag has become an integral part of meetings. The vast array of choices planners face when deciding what to give attendees can be overwhelming, but one way to make the practice more meaningful is to hand out gifts from companies that emphasize socially responsible practices.


Global Gifting, a company that specializes in corporate giving—including incentive travel—makes a point of partnering with firms such as OluKai that practice social responsibility. OluKai, which makes sustainable, Hawaiian-inspired footwear, has been giving items to local communities since 2006, when it delivered its first pair of sandals. The company now supports a more formal giveback program through Ama OluKai Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in Hawaii.

Nike, also one of Global Giving’s partners, emphasizes sustainable performance innovation and several other like-minded processes. When creating footwear, Nike Flyknit products utilize technology that prevents millions of pounds of waste from ever reaching landfills. Nike Grind materials, which consist of regenerated products, are used in 71 percent of Nike footwear and apparel products, including yarns, trims, jerseys and shoes.

OluKai and Nike products were among those available from Global Gifting at IMEX America in Las Vegas Oct. 10–12. The Global Gifting team hosted nearly 300 client appointments, as well as walk-up visits.

Global Gifting works with planners and other clients to help them choose gifts for their guests. Items include electronics, sunglasses, jewelry, handbags and luggage, food and wine accessories, lifestyle apparel, footwear and sandals, bicycles, fragrances, cosmetics and spa experiences.


Research has found that customized gifts—and particularly experiences in which attendees are able to personally select them—are becoming more popular. Also, nearly 70 percent of events incorporate some sort of brand experience, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF).

Merchandise and gift-card incentive programs continue to expand in the United States, according to the IRF’s 2017 Trends Study. Some 60 percent of all businesses give merchandise as rewards, and 70 percent give gift cards, the study found.

Some other key findings were:

  • S. businesses annually spend almost $23 billion on name-brand and logoed merchandise for reward programs in 2016, and more than $24 billion on gift cards.
  • 35 percent of respondents said their budgets would increase in 2017.
  • 41 percent anticipated an increase in the number of participants earning a reward in 2017.
  • 75 percent said that they expected they expected electronics to be included in incentive programs.
  • 38 percent said that they would include office accessories in their incentive offerings, and 22 percent said they would include flowers.