See How Hilton Reinvented the Conference Gift Concept

At the brand’s Global Owners Conference, a digital gift shop eliminated hassles for guests and extended the event experience.

By Mitra Sorrells November 21, 2017, 7:15 AM EST

The conference gift store was designed to look like a high-end retail space.

Photo: Clint Brewer for AgencyEA

Hilton Global Owners Conference
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It’s commonplace at conferences for guests to receive a gift as a token of thanks for their attendance. That gift may be presented to them when they arrive at registration or left in their hotel room or on their chair at a meal, and generally everyone receives the same item. For Hilton’s Global Owners Conference, October 10 to 12 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, organizers created a different gift solution—one that was both high-touch and high-tech.

Working with its partner AgencyEA, the brand created a 20- by 45-foot gift store at the conference where the 2,300 guests were invited to select one of seven items and then have it shipped directly to their home.

“Hilton really wanted to make sure their guests felt specifically and very intimately taken care of. They wanted them to be able to pick what they wanted, that it wasn’t a random swag item that’s given to them at any conference,” said Hunter Haas, AgencyEA account director.

Haas said the digital gift store also eliminated another challenge for the attendees, a mix of Hilton owners, management company partners, corporate leaderships, and developers that had traveled to Dallas from around the world. “How do you get this item home? Is it over the weight limit? We wanted to take that concern out of the guest experience by shipping it for them,” he said.

In the store, located near the registration area in the hotel’s atrium, attendees could see and touch each of the items, which included a suitcase, a candle, a scarf, and more. Brand ambassadors were available to help guests place their orders using an iPad or the attendees could do it themselves on the gifting platform, which was developed by Indicius and accessible in the conference app.

“When they walked out of the store, they didn’t have to deal with any bags, they could go on with the conference and not deal with taking an item to their room,” Haas said. Guests also had the option to have a donation made to the Hilton Responds Fund in lieu of receiving a gift.

AgencyEA senior account coordinator Kate McGivney said about 90 percent of the attendees selected a gift and many expressed satisfaction with the ease of the process. And as the guests returned home and received their gifts, it helped to extend the life of the conference.

In addition to the gift store, AgencyEA created a Brand Showcase in the hotel’s ballroom with sitting areas designed to reflect the style and persona of each of Hilton’s 14 brands. The first night of the conference, guests experienced “A Taste of Hilton,” a festival-style party on the hotel’s lawn where 22 chefs from 12 Hilton properties across the world prepared some of their local specialties. The final night of the event guests traveled to AT&T Stadium for guided tours of the Dallas Cowboys locker rooms, on-field games, and a concert by OneRepublic.

Speakers at the conference included Malcolm Gladwell and Condoleeza Rice.

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