Last-minute gifts and rewards

Promo experts and reward wizards offer solid strategies and gift concepts that are fun, useful and yes, meaningful

Over the last couple of years, the panic surrounding last-minute holiday gift shopping has become increasingly common—often to no fault of your own.

“In our current financial environment, corporate gifts and amenities are regularly the last item budgeted for,” says Rachel Ware, founder and CEO, RKW Collection, a Montreal-based producer of fashionable leather accessories.

Fear not; options abound, Ware assures. Edward Thompson, president, Oakville, Ont.-based Absolute Motivation, not only agrees, he says you have lots of surprisingly simple and incredibly meaningful corporate gift choices.

Beyond the box. Think about your groups’ personal needs. “Keep in mind that they too are struggling with the chaos around the holiday season, trying to find gifts for family and friends,” Thompson says, adding, “What do you think would be more meaningful to them: a box of chocolate or a day off go shopping?”

Execution. The act of giving the day off (or gift or card, for that matter) is a golden opportunity to convey recognition. “Have the senior manager make an announcement at a team meeting, something to the effect of: ‘Thanks for your hard work this year. We are very pleased and want to recognize your contributions to the company by giving you a day off to go shopping.’”

Truckload of cherries. Make it a group outing to foster teambuilding and camaraderie. Tell half the group they can go on Wednesday and the others will go on Friday. Rent a block of parking spots at the local mall for a few set hours; we all know how frustrating it is scoping out a spot, stalking innocent shoppers with jingling keys in hand.

Online extravaganza. Here’s one for companies with an online rewards program: “Leverage really good discounts from your supplier and then open up the ‘store’ for a set period of time during working hours,” says Thompson. Pump up the fun factor with holiday music, and trays of festive snacks. Include complimentary gift-wrapping and shipping to the office. Ron Eliakim, CRP, director of sales, Rideau Recognition Solutions in Montreal, has another suggestion: provide staff with points to make their purchases.

Relationships matter. Eliakim also notes that strong supplier relationships are key to executing these last-minute strategies. He recalls a crunch moment where he was trying to fulfill a last-minute request for a client, a large American bank. “I called my supplier and said, ‘I’m waiting for you to say no, but I need a few hundred logoed gold coins in three days.’” The result? Eliakim’s request was leapfrogged to the front of the line.

Qui vive. As a supplier, Rachel Ware warns that last-minute corporate gift orders can mean add-on expenses for expedited shipping. “Keep these to a minimum by ordering smaller, lighter gifts to reduce packaging and shipping costs associated with weight. Also ask for a detailed quote before placing your order.”

Supplier tips
Ask. Don’t assume there isn’t enough time
Be open. Your original idea and colour selection may not be available; consider alternatives
Get organized. Establish your budget, item requirements and the quantity needed so you can make a quick decision on available options
Personalization. Consider possibilities like printed inserts. Many 24-hour printing services are open for quality printing
A to B. Ship straight to the recipient or event location to save time
Piggyback. When ordering gifts for other corporate events during the year, add a few extra for holiday gifts. You’ll benefit from higher volume pricing and save on shipping costs
Installments. If the lump sum payment at year-end discourages holiday gifts, consider making deposit payments to lessen the cash-flow hit

Source Rachel Ware, RKW Collection

Off the hook
Here’s a novel idea: just forget it. For now, anyway. Says Edward Thompson, “Make an announcement at the beginning of December that the holiday event will be delayed for a couple of months.” Sacrilege you say? Thompson argues that February is a psychologically savvy time to party. “People can get quite down at this time of the year, they need something to look forward to.” That, and most people’s Decembers are jammed packed and stressful.

Source Edward Thomson, Absolute Motivation

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