Think Local for Corporate Gifts

Sourcing attendee gifts from your meeting destination is charming, and supports the local economy

Thinking local seems to have become a global mantra. Serving food and wine that was grown within a 100-mile radius of your event rather than across the world has become a wonderful way for meeting and conference planners to support the local area and bring meaning to their events.

In the realm of corporate gift giving, too, thinking local is gaining momentum. By searching out local suppliers and smaller gift companies who work with local artisans, corporate gift ideas can reflect a destination’s local culture.

Juliette Sale, president of Idea Incentives Inc. in Vancouver says she and her staff members are constantly on the hunt for something new and unique in the realm of corporate gift ideas. Sale says it does take time to discover these memorable local gems but that some great spots to look are farmers markets, craft markets and one-of-a-kind shows. “My staff members really love to shop so they are always looking for new products and items our clients would like.”

Just because you find an amazing product, it won’t guarantee that the order process and delivery will be up to par, says Sale. “We take a lot of time to qualify our suppliers so we can stand behind a product. Working with smaller companies can be scary in terms of whether or not they will get your product on time at the level of quality you need.”

Saul Brown is owner of It’s Saul Good Gift Co., a Vancouver-based gifting company that focuses on sustainable and socially responsible corporate gift ideas created by local manufacturers. Brown says most of his clients have found him through referrals or through Internet research, and he agrees that quality is key when going local.

“Make sure that your suppliers provide high quality products first and foremost,” he says. “Corporate gifts are about creating a memorable experience for people. Sourcing local, environmentally and socially responsible items help to build a powerful story. But if the products are of low quality this is what people will be most affected by.”

Brown says his most effective clients have a consistent plan with gifting that creates and instills a brand through corporate gifts and promotional products. But he often finds himself urging corporate event planners to broaden their spectrum of what’s considered beautiful and consistent. “One of our suppliers makes gift bags made from reclaimed upholstery fabric,” he says. “Even though each bag is cut and sewn the same, each bag will look a little different and have different patterns or colours. Since it uses waste materials they all can’t be the same. By giving up consistency one gains a powerful story of creativity, re-use and environmental responsibility.”

Take note: Give generous lead times for these local gems.
When working with social enterprises and small family businesses it’s always great to give as large a lead time as possible, says Brown. “Large volumes are possible when working with local companies and social enterprises,” he says. “We’ve ordered in the 1,000s of units for clients here in Vancouver, but having four to eight weeks lead time has helped to take pressure off small scale manufacturers.”

In Brown’s case the manufacturer trains women in carpentry living in Vancouver’s inner city. Value is created by training and empowering women. “Rushed lead times often lead to increased pressure and mistakes which can set marginalized people back in terms of their confidence, not improving their lives as per the mission of the programs they’re participating in,” he says.

Consider This!
If you do make contact with a local supplier whose quality you trust, but whose products just aren’t quite right for your recipients, consider developing a gift item with them.

Many local and smaller-sized businesses are eager to create products that the corporate gifting market would want, and will be enthusiastic to hear your ideas.

Juliette Sale, president of Idea Incentives Inc. in Vancouver, for example, has in-depth knowledge of her clients’ needs and recently collaborated with a local leather-product manufacturer to produce a leather Blackberry holder that can be logoed and folds down easily for shipping. “I saw a need and didn’t see anything like it in the market so I sought out someone who could produce it for me, and it has worked out really well,” she says.

other articles in this section

Banff, Alberta

Incentive Travel Insights

Gifting Guidance

The Renaissance of Incentive Travel

Promotional products your attendees will love. Really.

Incentive Research in Action

History in the Making

Mindful Indulgences

Dynamic Duos

Status Report

Editor's Choice: 6 Springtime Gifts

Warm up to Winter Ski Incentives

Set to Impress

Expert Tips for Virtual Incentive Events

Party Pivots

Presents of Mind: The Art of Virtual Gifting

A Rewarding Experience

Noteworthy: Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Bermuda

Cards vs. Cash

Good Times

Value Validation

Trip Trends

Sailing Away

The More, The Merrier

Holiday Angst

Making the Connection

Make an Impact

Mutual Appreciation

Healthy Options for Incentive Trips

A Rewarding Experience

Cruising the Rhone River

Celebrating Employee Milestones

How Do they Do It

Eyes on the Prize

Healthy employees = Healthy company

Measuring ROI

Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida

Good Sensations

How to Design an Effective Gift Card Incentive Program

Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island, Newfoundland

The Case for including Spouses on Incentive Trips

Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

On-site Gifting

Rim to River Hiking in the Grand Canyon

Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon, BC

Creating incentive trips that appeal to everyone

The Brave New World of Gift Cards

Award Show Winners

Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina

Take me to the river

Click + Praise

The Science of Incentives

Incentive trips go family-style

Knock-their-socks-off gifts for hard-to-buy-for executives

Building a Better Program

Perfect Pampering

Indulge Me!

Customized Recognition Programs

Virtual gift cards, the new reality

Gift Cards that Give

Go with a Pro, in the Spa and on the Greens

Chartering private jets

Offsite Employee Engagement

Behaviour-based Recognition

Canadian tax implications for employee gifts

A Christmas Bonus with all the Fixin's!

Peer-to-peer recognition

Everyday Green Heroes

Recognizing Environmental Actions in the Workplace

Reward and Recognize Every Day!

New Year, New You!

Co-Branded Cards

Last-minute gifts and rewards

Double Pampering Hits the Spot!

Hidden Gems: Cobble Beach Resort


Free and Fab Employee Rewards

Incentive Programs Used by the Pros

Think Local for Corporate Gifts

21st Century Gift Cards

Time for an Incentive Travel Update

Reward Best-Practices for the Holiday Season

Small Product, Big Impact

Spa Rewards, Done Right

Staying Motivated

Gift Giving Guidelines

The Pros and Cons of Gift Cards

Eco-Friendly Corporate Gift Ideas

Green Guides

Travel Rewards Strategy

Speaker Gifts that Shine with Gratitude

Tax Treatment of Incentive Travel