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How to Apply a Back-to-School Attitude to Work

No matter how long you’ve been out of school, there’s always that feeling of brand new come September. It’s the season of change and fresh starts that remind us of school days past. Turns out a new school year can benefit everyone, especially if you carry a back-to-school attitude with you to the workplace.

Playful Coworkers Fist Bumping

Not only can it serve as the boost of inspiration your team needs, but having a more playful approach to some of your monthly to-dos, and more work activities can serve well for your productivity levels, positive mentality, and creativity. Studies have proven that employee satisfaction leads to spikes in productivity, in some cases, as much as 12% or more.

In the days leading up to the first day of school, think about how you can take what you’ve learned during your long-gone school days and incorporate the same feeling into your work life. Here’s how to make a more seamless transition into the next season of the year, with more play at work as a stress reduction.

Shop for New “School” Clothes

As kids, shopping for new school clothes seemed like tradition for many households. Whether needed or not, it always felt nice to head back to school with a new wardrobe and looking fresh.

As adults, the same kind of mentality can apply. While the summer may have encouraged a more relaxed type of look, head into fall looking like you mean business and see how it changes your mentality. It doesn’t have to translate to full-on suits (unless your occupation is part of a corporate environment), but looking polished will give you an extra boost of confidence as you head out into your day. Take advantage of back-to-school sales and give your wardrobe the refresh it may need by adding some work essentials to your closet.

Set Reading Goals

Pizza Hut’s Book It! Challenge was a craze in the 80s, encouraging grade school kids nationwide to read more. More reading meant more pizza and what kid can pass that up? Setting goals is part of what makes a school year productive, but setting rewards is what makes us feel like kids again. While pizza might not be the biggest motivating factor (or for some, maybe it still is!), book clubs or traveling to places you read about are adult-friendly goals that help add some play at work and fun to the “task” of reading.

Encourage a friendly competition within the office. Make it voluntary to sign up for a set company goal of number of books to read by a certain date. Then, celebrate accomplishments with a team lunch or happy hour. Consider the idea of a department book club that meets monthly or bi-monthly to discuss a work- or business-related book. This type of learning makes people more engaged with critical thinking of how it can be applied to your business.

“Play-Storm” Vs. Brainstorm

Brainstorming can be difficult when you’re not feeling the creative spark. How can you change the process to get more people involved and collaborate? Incorporate some color, mini-activities, and even music into the brainstorming session. For example, hand out a different color set of sticky notes to your team members and set a timer for five minutes. During that time, everyone writes down their ideas, one per sticky note, without editing. Once everyone is finished, review everyone’s notes and group into different categories. This will help you start to put together the shell of a project. This method is also helpful because it could spark ideas from others presented during the exercise.

Coworkers Brainstorming Around Table

Have In-Office, Friendly Competitions

Friendly competition in school has always been encouraged as a way of bonding and team building. Why not incorporate some of this friendly competition in your workplace to spark interaction between different teams or departments? Remember the “Office Olympics” episode from The Office TV show? It was a fun way to get the group together to participate in different events. Consider organizing something similar for your company to break up the routine for a minute and have some work play fun. Maybe host a competitive event at the end of the year and allow employees to invite their families for a carnival-type affair with separate stations for food and games. Not only would this encourage participation in the event but also help increase employee satisfaction in the workplace.

To disperse responsibility, encourage each team to come up with their own station, which could include ideas like:

  • Ping-pong
  • Target shooting with a bow and arrow
  • Pin the tail on the donkey
  • Putt-putt
  • Water balloon catch

Award prizes for the most creative and host a BBQ or picnic following the awards ceremony.

Gift a Welcome Basket for New Employees

Starting a new job can feel a lot like the first day of school, intimidating yet exciting, scary yet fun, overwhelming yet great to be learning new things. As a new employee, there may be mixed feelings such as these especially when it comes to meeting new coworkers and getting used to the policies and projects everyone else is already familiar with. As part of the onboarding process, include supplies with your branding that can help ease their concerns and prove helpful to your new hire. A gift basket could include:

Include anything that will make a new employee feel welcome and assist them with day-to-day directions. Also include business cards, marketing collateral, and a list of favorite nearby places for lunch to help them get started on the right foot. Not only is this a nice gesture for welcoming your new employees, but a great way to help with stress reduction and their first day jitters.

Encourage Team Lunches

When work schedules get busy, people tend to sit at their desks and work through the lunch hour rather than taking a proper break. This can lead to burnout and decrease in productivity since longer hours don’t always equal better performance. A good way to improve employee morale is to encourage team lunches. Don’t you remember how fun recess and lunch time was in school? Some would even say it was their favorite part of the day! At work, lunch should also be just as great. Whether that means company paid lunches in or out of the office, or scheduling a weekly or monthly lunch hour for the team to get away from their desks and go outside or meet in the breakroom, it can help employees take a much-needed break.

Make your work environment one that encourages an actual lunch break rather than only having a physical breakroom that no one ever uses. Again, this may be especially applicable to new employees who think the office norm is to work through lunch and may feel discouraged from using their lunch hour to eat.

Table with Food for Group Meal

Schedule a “Back-to-School” Picnic

To build on the idea of team lunches, a back-to-school picnic or ice cream social is a great way to introduce new team members, announce promotions, and allow employees to get to know each other better outside of the office. If you remember back in school, back-to-school get togethers usually happened a week in advance, giving you the chance to meet new teachers or see friends that had been gone all summer.

It’s a tradition that can help employees feel refreshed and get back into a better rhythm, especially following months where many people were probably out on vacation. You can use it as a kick-off to a new quarter or to celebrate a company milestone. The focus on the group over the individual helps further illustrate the importance of teamwork and camaraderie among co-workers. Keep things simple by hosting the picnic potluck-style and the company provides the main dish and drinks. Few things bring people together faster as a group than food. Food is an easy (and delicious!) way to incorporate play at work and maintain employee satisfaction.

Thinking about our old school days can make us feel nostalgic for simpler times with less responsibilities, but even if our task lists have increased, it doesn’t mean the feeling of play has to die out. Our work lives are what we make it and by incorporating a back-to-school attitude that focuses on fun as much as it does getting things done will improve mental energy and lead to greater productivity overall.

Back to School Checklist: School Supplies for Success

Doesn’t it seem like summer just started and now there’s already buzz about heading back to school? As much as we would like to prolong days spent by the pool, at the beach, or chillin’ in the A/C, we can’t ignore the fact it’ll soon be time to head back to school.

Back to School Note with School Supplies on DeskRather than waiting until the last minute to make sure you’ve properly prepared your classrooms and extracurricular organizations, why not make this year’s back to school shopping a breeze by BYOB, a.k.a. building your own bundle? Whether you’re a teacher preparing your students for all the supplies they will need for a successful school year, resident advisors prepping incoming college freshmen for their first year at university, or a group leader who wants to make sure your kids have what they need to make it through the school year, get started on your back to school checklist today. We’ll guide you through how to build your own bundle as part of our Back to School campaign.

School Kits for Elementary Teachers

Teachers get called into action well before students step foot in the school halls to prepare the classroom and teaching plan for the year ahead. One way to welcome students to a new year is by surprising them with a box full of goodies and essential education supplies that they can use all year long. They’ll come armed with the basics: backpack, notebooks, and pencils, but why not include a few fun items as well? Set the tone for the school year by stocking up on a few supplies to get your students excited.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Drawstring Bag

    This lightweight, over-the-shoulders bag will help keep all their new supplies in one place. Students can leave them at their desk or take them home to tote what they need throughout the school year.

  • Personalized Pens

    Customize pens with your school’s mascot name, a classroom nickname, or an inspirational quote to start their year off right.

  • Water bottle

    Avoid trips to the water fountain during class by giving your students their own water bottle to use and keep. With options starting at under a $1 per bottle, back to school shopping doesn’t have to be costly to keep your kids hydrated throughout the school year and avoid unnecessary interruptions.

Elementary School Teacher Teaching at Front of Class

Classroom Organization Kits for School Administrators

As an educator, there’s plenty to haul to and from the classroom every day, including laptops, notebooks, lesson plans, and the list goes on and on. One way to help your teachers feel less overwhelmed and more organized is to arm them with the right school supplies to start the year off on the right foot.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Canvas Tote

    You need a bag that’s sturdy and can stand up to the weight of what you’ll be carrying to and from school on a day to day basis. Personalize yours with school colors, the school year, or anything else that makes it easily identifiable to make it less likely to be accidentally picked up by someone else.

  • Lunch Bag

    Unless scheduled for cafeteria duty, it’s not uncommon for high school teachers to miss their opportunity to eat lunch. Avoid the risk of having to grab fast food or snack on stale leftover treats that might be lying around the teachers’ lounge, and pack a homemade lunch plus a few snacks to get you through the long school days.

  • School Planner

    Teachers live by their planners to keep track of upcoming assignments, tests, to-do tasks, and more. Rather than planning around the calendar year, teachers typically plan their days around what’s going on at school to avoid conflicts with holidays, in-service days, parent-teacher conferences, and all the other dates that can affect a classroom schedule.

College Freshmen Welcome Kits for Resident Advisors

Staple items every college kid needs include: quarters for the washer/dryer, storage bins for clothing and shoes, and plenty of snacks to keep stashed away in a dorm room. But in order to survive the day-to-day of classroom life, there are additional, practical back to school items to help make it easier to adapt to the first year at college. As a dorm floor resident advisor or sorority/fraternity house mom, giving your students a head start as they enter college life will help make the transition that much easier.

What’s in the bundle:

  • USB Flash Drive

    These are a must! Students will want the extra security of a backup location for important files and assignments. Help students with the scary and probable situation of coffee spills on their precious laptops causing their files to get lost or becoming corrupt by providing an alternative secure location for their files.

  • Planner

    One of the biggest adjustments to college life is time management. College is a hectic schedule of classes, extracurricular actives, volunteering opportunities, educational internships and social events that will surely test a student’s time management skills. Planners are an essential item to encourage better organization and help a first year student get acquainted with the college life.

  • Customized Mug

    If there’s one thing that helps a college student get through early morning classes and late nights spent studying, it’s coffee. By personalizing the mug, it can also serve as extra motivation to get through the long days (and nights) college life can bring.

College Freshman Student Ready with School Supplies

Supplies for School Club Leaders

Get your school group organized by creating a back to school checklist for items you anticipate needed for the year. Whether you need to gather equipment for your sports team, theatre group, marching band, or other extracurricular organizations, make sure you have the supplies you need on hand at all times. These are items to be used throughout the school year to instill a sense of camaraderie among your group and identity when you travel for competitions or events.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Backpacks

    Customized bags emblazoned with the school logo or student group can be used season after season, if used with care. Use the backpacks for trips to competitions, games, and other offsite events where students need to pack uniforms, props, and other items necessary to their role in the group.

  • Selfie Stick

    Every school group should have a selfie stick to capture moments perfect for school yearbooks, social media pages, and student newsletters. Make sure to brand it with the school’s logo and/or contact information, and take it on school functions or use it when preparing for the next sporting event or production.

  • T-shirts

    Show your club’s spirit by sporting crisp new t-shirts with your tagline, organization name, or at the very least, your school’s mascot. It will help create a sense of solidarity and inclusiveness among the group, while also making your team stand out at the next event.

School supply starter kits are great to kick off a new school year. Not only does it help you prepare for the months ahead with a detailed list of school supplies, but it’s also a fun way to get excited about heading back to school and seeing your beautiful students.  Whether you’re a resident advisor preparing for a new dormitory floor of incoming freshmen, a student organization leader, or an instructor who wants to make things fresh and exciting for your students, building your own bundle of school essentials will surely help as you prepare to go back to school.

Make a great impression by getting your back to school basics today.

Planning a Family Reunion: Activities, Gift Ideas & More

Summer is the perfect time for family reunions. Over 65% of people agree that summer beats out all the seasons to get together with loved ones. The kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and everyone is in a festive mood thanks to longer days of sunshine and warmer temperatures.
Happy Multigenerational Family Reunion
If you’re planning a family vacation or heading to one this summer, make sure to make it extra memorable with the help of a few creative ideas and created just for your family. Family reunion activities give us a chance to reconnect with loved ones who may be too difficult to see on a regular basis – all while enjoying the summer fun. From barbecuing in your own backyard to traveling across the world, it’s time to make some memories and begin the celebration with these family reunion ideas!

  1. Picnic Potluck

    One of the easiest ways to host a family reunion is by scheduling a picnic potluck. Each family is responsible for bringing their own signature dish and contributing to the meal. If you have a smaller crowd, it’s a good idea to assign each family to a specific appetizer, side dish, or dessert so there isn’t a table only filled with cakes and cookies.

    As the host, supply the main course to go with the potluck sides. Keep it simple by grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Or, host a make-your-own-taco station with plenty of taco meat kept warm in serving trays and all the toppings packed away in a cooler. Create personalized family reunion favors like your own Koozies™ to keep everyone’s canned drinks chilled. Customize them with your family’s surname and year to commemorate the occasion. It’ll be a special cheers to the party in more ways than one. And, it will be a nice reminder of the reunion for plenty of potlucks to come.

  2. Schedule a Destination Family Vacation

    Is your extended family spread out across the country? Pick a centralized destination, and rent a home on VRBO or book an Airbnb so you have plenty of space that you can temporarily call home. Beach or lake destinations are often summer favorites because of the number of water activities available. Both locations will accommodate those who wish to relax and chat by the shore, along with those who want to be active in the water by swimming, boating, canoeing, skiing and more.

    Since not everyone will participate in all activities, you can still feel bonded by creating matching apparel. Whether it’s a comfy t-shirt or hat to block the sun from a long day outside, this is the one time you can probably convince your family to all wear the same outfit, so why not get those fun matching tees?

    People Enjoying a Family Reunion BBQ

  3. Backyard BBQ

    Much like the picnic potluck, the backyard BBQ is one of the family reunion activities where everyone can help pitch in and make it great without having one person having to carry the burden alone. Summer-worthy menu staples include steaks, chicken or ribs on the grill, potato salad, chips and dip, corn on the cob and watermelon. Make the yard feel festive with balloons, banners, or signs that signify the special event. To make cleanup easy, use plastic cutlery and paper plates with trash cans stationed throughout.

    To create an extra festive mood, hire a professional photo booth company or set up a makeshift one to capture the reunion memories. Save all the images to a flash drive to mail out to everyone after the party is over. If you decide to share your images directly online, personalize a picture frame with the date for each family to take with them as they leave.

  4. Family Olympics

    For the family that’s more competitive, set up honorary Olympic games at a park or playground. Schedule events that are easy for all ages to participate in, and hand out prizes to the winners. Easy games that don’t require a lot of supplies or setup include a three-legged race, hula hoop contest, egg-on-a-spoon race, water balloon toss, and other yard games that are applicable for most ages.

    Family reunion gift bags full of goodies like a water bottle, snacks, and a gift card to a popular store or shopping site is a good idea for prizes. To keep costs low, keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be extravagant as the biggest prize is the bragging rights. Get creative with your ideas and don’t be afraid to be a little silly; it’s all about having fun! End the games with a closing ceremony complete with food, drinks and lots of laughs.

  5. Host an Outdoor Movie Night

    Rent a projection screen and set up a movie night in your own backyard. Pick a kid-friendly flick for earlier in the evening, and something more appealing for the adults for after the kids go to sleep. Set out comfy blankets, lawn chairs, and bean bags for plenty of relaxed seating. Serve movie snacks like popcorn, movie candy boxes, and soda. If you’re planning to make it a full meal, think about offering hot dogs, nachos, or ordering a few pizzas to feed the hungry crowd.

    Little Boy on Family Reunion Cruise

  6. Set Sail

    Whether it’s scheduling a full-blown family cruise or renting a pontoon boat for the day, it’s always a treat to enjoy a day in the water. Regardless of what kind of boat you decide to set sail on, pack a summer essentials kit with sunscreen protection, a waterproof case for your phone, and a Kan-Tastic beverage holder to keep your drinks cool. Choose from several different colors and order in bulk for a product that’s both useful and inexpensive to commemorate your family reunion every time you use it.

Start Planning a Family Reunion

There’s nothing better than spending quality time with family, especially if that time only happens once every few years. And, planning a family vacation ahead of time can make hosting an event feel less hectic. Divide and conquer the duties among different family members. Once you pick a date and a location that works for the majority, assign out food, lodging, and activity choices. That way everyone is involved in the reunion preparations, but don’t feel overwhelmed by too much planning and coordination.

Above all, make sure you make the moments count! Take plenty of pictures, add in a few, fun personalized family reunion favors to mark the occasion, but most importantly, cherish the opportunity to catch up and spend invaluable time with your loved ones.

Attending a Summer Work Conference? Bring These 10 Items

Work conference season is in full swing, which means ample opportunity to get your company’s brand front and center among both peers and (potential) clients. Meeting Professional International reports there are approximately 1.8 million meetings and professional events every year in the U.S.

Businesspeople Attending a Work Conference

When conference planning for the rest of the year (and into 2018), consider creating a checklist of what materials to pack, so you know the plan every time you go. If your company is a sponsor or vendor of the event, this is a prime opportunity to showcase your value and have one-on-one connections with decisions makers and others interested in your services or products. Make sure you have enough marketing collateral that will differentiate yourself from competitors to make the best impact before, during, and after the conference.

If you are just planning to attend a conference, you’ll still want to ensure you have what you need to market yourself and your company in the right way, especially during networking times. Work conferences are a good mix of learning and collaborating; consider what you can bring to the table. As a conference planner, vendor, attendee, or all three, don’t forget to take these 10 items on your next work conference trip.

  1. Notebooks

    Generally speaking, work conferences are like one big study session. There are thought leaders from every industry who come to speak to attendees about developments in the business, answer questions to frequently seen problems, and announce anything new and exciting upcoming within the industry. It is a lot of information at once, and in short, attendees will want to take notes. While it’s possible they’ll be taking notes on a laptop, sometimes pen to paper is still the best way to go to jot down a few memorable quotes or stats in a notebook.

    Per one NPR article, note taking with a pen trumps laptops since most people who use their laptops try to take down the information verbatim. Those who use pen and paper process the information first, which helps with retention, in order to highlight what’s important and why it matters. Using branded notebooks for giveaways at your booth is an easy way to display your company’s name and make it visible amongst a sea of likeminded individuals.

  2. Banners

    Vendors or companies with a conference booth should consider having a customized banner to call attention to their setup. Most likely, there will be a limited space for a table, chairs, and marketing materials. The trick is to make your setup stand out from the rest on the conference room floor.

    A banner that displays your logo, tagline, or something else eye catching in front of your work conference or tradeshow booth will make people pause an extra second before moving onto the next booth.

    An additional bonus is that when packed well and preserved back in the office, you can get multiple uses for the banner to use at other work conferences or non-conference events, such as volunteer activities and outdoor outings

    People Taking Notes at a Work Conference

  3. Flash Drives

    If you are the conference planner for your company, think about the type of conference you’re going to and what would be valued most as a giveaway item. A flash drive could be highly coveted among many industries – plus, it takes up very little space. Anyone who uses a laptop for their job can find use in having one. Even if they don’t use one at work, most likely they have use for it at home.

    If you have brochures or a special promotion during the conference, save it to the flash drives you give out. That way, people can receive the information digitally, on their own time. It will help eliminate waste, and reduce the likelihood of your flyer or paper handout from being thrown away.

  4. Phone Chargers

    In addition to taking notes, networking, and attending breakout sessions, it is likely those who attend a conference will be checking emails, texts, and social media channels on their phones. A phone charger is ideal to have in your bag when attending a work conference, since most sessions last an entire day and outlets and breaks could be few and far between.

    A basic charger can be a fun, useful giveaway at your booth, but also having a couple on hand for those in your company attending the conference will make sure you are connected throughout the day. Nothing is worse than watching your battery charge go down with a good part of the day still left to go. Conserve your battery when at the work conference, but have backup ready too.

  5. Seasonal Swag

    As a conference vendor, or when you send a sales team to represent you at a tradeshow, it can be challenging to stand out. One way to be more memorable with thoughtful conference planning is to match with the season and create clever collateral based on an upcoming holiday or even the work conference location itself.

    As an example, if you’re headed to sunny California for a conference, a relevant swag bag item could be a pair of branded sunglasses to enjoy during their quick stop at the beach. Plan your conference attendance in advance and perform research to match your marketing materials with the conference theme and/or destination.

  6. Water Bottles

    Water bottles are one of the most popular conference items because they’re convenient, useful, and keep people hydrated throughout the long days. The value of the water bottle is its resourcefulness, but what makes it a keeper? One idea is to add extra goodies in the bottle like a flash drive, pens, or candies. You can also slip in tickets in the bottles redeemable for a prize, discount, or free service at your booth.

    Businesswoman Presenting at a Work Conference

  7. Hand Sanitizers

    With so much networking when you attend a conference, there will be plenty of closed in spaces and hand shaking. It’s not a bad idea to carry hand sanitizer to fight off germs. Again, here’s your chance to get creative with branding personalization. Consider going a step further, and get your business card printed on the hand sanitizer. Your business information will surely be more recognizable in this way than battling an endless pile of business cards.

  8. Earbuds

    Earbuds are a more unexpected conference item that may be well received, as many people may have flown in for the event. According to a publication from the S. Travel Association, there were 457.4 million business trips in 2016 with 38% specifically for business and meetings. Research also shows 33% of all domestic business travelers are going by plane. A pair of foldable headphones doesn’t have to be costly, and can also make for a good raffle item, if you want to create a swag bag to give away to a lucky winner. Even as an attendee at a work conference, it is an easy opportunity to display your branding in a fun and functional way.

  9. Candy

    It is rare when someone turns down free candy. From mints to jelly beans to lollipops, the options for sweet goodies are endless and can be a great incentive for people to stop by your booth as they make their way through the conference floor. The sugary pick-me-up may be just what they need to get through the rest of their day, and they will surely remember and be grateful to the company that gave them a sweet treat for stopping by the booth.

  10. Pens

    Sounds too simple to be true, but how many times have you been in a situation without a pen when you need it most? Pens are not as commonly carried as one might think, so having extras doesn’t hurt, especially if it’s a quality one. Pens are also often passed around or loaned to a friend, spreading your message to a larger network. Keep the branding simple on the pen with an email or social media handle to make connecting with you easy.

Equip employees with collateral every time they attend a conference. Company t-shirts and branded office supplies are inexpensive, but can be effective. Consider the audience, the participation, and the goals of every conference you go to, because most likely, they will slightly differ. When it comes down to it, successful conference planning and execution involves engagement over everything. It is nice to have swag to help break the ice or use as an incentive, but it’s really the personal connection that will help form new professional relationships. Friendly interaction is the added unspoken “item” you don’t want to forget as you hit the work conference circuit this summer.

Improve Hotel Experience with Hospitality Gifts & Services

The hotel experience does not simply begin and end when guests check into their room. It starts when they start researching a hotel’s amenities, location, and availability. It continues until the final bill is delivered, and in some cases, even longer.
Hotel Guest Receiving Room Key from Front Desk
Hotel guests want to feel like they are taken care of in every way possible. Ever read the most favorable reviews? Many of the comments attribute a positive experience to the “extras” a hotel provides. Whether that means extra attention, extra consideration, or a few extra toiletries when the guest forgets theirs, it is not unheard of to expect hotels to go above and beyond with hospitality gifts and impeccable service to provide a five-star guest experience.

Start off on the right foot by making sure you are equipped with the right kind of toiletries, amenities, and guest add-ons that will make a stay more pleasant. When it comes to hospitality, it is your guest’s hotel experience that counts the most. Whatever it is that makes your hotel stand out, make sure you to capitalize on that as much as possible. This will result in not only happy guests, but loyal guests as well.

For example, if you are a boutique hotel, what you may lack in space can be made up for in customer service. If you’re a large, chain hotel, focus on leaving a personal touch and lasting impression for every guest who walks through the door. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with someone who is a world traveler or someone who is new to staying in hotels, you want every person to feel welcome and comfortable throughout their stay.

Listen to your guests when they leave hotel experience feedback, good or bad. They will tell you where you have had missteps, but they will also let you know what parts of your hotel they enjoyed most.

Count on Your Concierge Service to Provide the Best Hotel Experience

A concierge helps guests navigate their way around the facilities of the hotel, but also the attractions of the city. A well-versed concierge will help guests secure restaurant reservations, get discounts on local activities, or serve up recommendations for things to do in the city.

It is important that your concierge reflects a hospitable demeanor. Nothing is worse than an unprepared or unfriendly service. If your hotel doesn’t have a dedicated concierge, train your front desk staff to engage in conversation with guests in a way that makes them feel cared for and special rather than another customer in a room. Offer thoughtful gestures like a bowl of customized candies for the taking upon check-in and check-out to have guests arrive and leave on a sweet note.Bed with Hotel Toiletries on Top of Robes

Stock Up on Hotel Toiletries

As travelers, there’s most likely been a time when you’ve forgotten your toothbrush, razor, or some other small, but significant necessity for your trip. Rather than making guests track down a local shop to stock up on these items, you can have them readily available for their convenience in the room or at the front desk. It also can serve as a subtle way to incorporate your branding on some hotel promotional items, while still leave a lasting (and helpful) impression.

It doesn’t hurt to invest in some wholesale hotel amenities to always have on hand, such as pens and notepads with your logo for taking notes in the room, or even a small stock of customized umbrellas – an item that can come in handy if an unexpected rainstorm hits an unprepared traveler.

Offer Free Snacks or Drinks

The mini-bar is often deemed a no-no for travelers who don’t want to spend a pretty penny for a candy bar. As such, a free bottle of water or small snack left for the guest’s enjoyment can make a big difference in their hotel experience.

Everyone likes a complimentary item, no matter how small it may be. Take this into consideration when you’re setting up the room for your guests. A notepad, keychain, or a tote bag can all serve as inexpensive hospitality gifts that will feel more welcoming. Make sure to customize these items to represent your brand, whether that is with a logo, slogan, or other memorable quote that will make you stand apart from your competition.

Showcase Your Hotel’s Location with Small Gestures

What’s special about your property, or is there something specific your destination is known for? Does your city make a local snack everyone loves? Is your city known for any seasonal treats? It’s nice to provide a small and homemade or handcrafted product to share with guests, if possible.

It’s also a good way to partner with local businesses to further integrate yourself as part of the community. For example, if you work with a bakery known regionally for their homemade scones, it’s a special touch to have a tray of their freshly baked pastries upon your guests’ arrival.

Even a bouquet of seasonal flowers special to your city says something about the destination and makes the lobby or guest room feel more inviting.

Hotel Conference Room Stocked for Meeting

Set Up Your Next Business Meeting with the Right Supplies

Business guests who hold conferences or meetings at your hotel usually require certain office supplies, such as pens, paper, and business card holders for networking, in addition to a variety of other essentials. Consider branding these items so they can serve two functions: convenience for guests and promotion for your hotel. Set up each seat with all the necessary supplies to ensure every guest leaves with your products in their hands.

Host an Events Night

Does your property have a hosted wine hour, special dinner, or social event per month? Events can range from a movie night to a food demonstration to an all-out themed party. Give your guests a night to remember with a fun DJ and signature cocktails. This also serves an opportune time to add a little bit of branding and offer hotel promotional items that work as party favors. Koozies or coasters can be small take-home souvenirs and act as a reminder of the fun they had at their stay in your hotel. In addition, put together a giveaway bag for a randomly-selected winner with gifts such as a wine bottle opener or coffee mug.

Leave Lasting Impressions with Hotel Promotional Products

Whenever the occasion calls for it, make sure you are putting your hospitality promotional products to work. Promotion through products is a reminder to your hotel guests just how special your property is. When you provide convenience, comfort, and make them feel like their presence is welcome and appreciated, guests will reflect these positive feelings in return.

Make it a priority for your team to test out what is working, and switch up your promotional strategy to reflect your guests’ responses. It’s all about the hotel experience before, during, and after a person has stepped foot on to your property.

How to Enjoy a Work Vacation Without Losing Your Mind

School might be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean work is (unless, of course, you work in the education system). But even if the majority of us don’t actually get a three-month hiatus from work every year, there’s still time for a vacation from work.

Man on Trip Taking a Break from Work

Ready for a quick vacation poll? When you get ready to go on vacation, do you:

  1. Stress out until the very last minute, wrapping up deadlines, and throwing clothes into your suitcase.

    -or-

  2. Make a travel plan weeks in advance so you know who’s covering your work while you’re out of the office – along with a packing checklist ready to go a day or two ahead of your travel.

If you answered a), you are most likely in the majority of people who feel like they are rushed into their time off from work, and need a few days before they can truly relax when on vacation. Many employees skip taking their full benefits of time off altogether. Findings from Project: Time Off show that 54% of employees ended last year with unused vacation time. This doesn’t have to be you!

Depending on the number of work responsibilities you have, taking a break from work and preparing for PTO can feel like a job in itself to assure your work is covered and to help avoid any conflicts while you are away. The good news? You can go on vacation without feeling guilty! There are ways to combat this feeling of craziness before leaving on your trip, and tips to help you feel prepared for the onslaught of emails when you return from vacation.

  1. Review Your Tasks

    Alert your team in advance of the days you have scheduled off. The chaos factor will most likely be determined by how many days you’ll be out of the office. If it is one or two days, it is likely you can work ahead and wrap up any forecasted situations before leaving the office. If you are out for an extended period of time, divide and delegate.

    Start with the tasks that have the most pressing due dates, then work with your manager and/or team to find areas where others can assist while you are out. The more you plan ahead, the less stress you will feel as your vacation days approach. You can then leave without feeling like you have forgotten something.

    There might be a to-do list waiting for you when you get back to work after vacation, but the more you prep yourself and your team, the better handle you will feel you have on your tasks.

    Coworkers Planning Getting Back to Work After Vacation

  2. Set Your OOO

    Make sure you set your “out of office” message to direct any pressing emails or phone calls to a manager or another team member while you are out. That way, the person sending the correspondence knows you are not ignoring their messages and know why there will be a delay in the response.

    This also allows for any potential “fires” to be escalated to your team and/or manager right away, rather than waiting for you when you get back or check your email. It is also a good reminder for other people within your company to know you are on a work vacation so they can adjust deadlines and/or expectations for different projects in your absence.

  3. Turn Off Notifications

    Paid time off is designed for taking a break from work and your daily grind to recharge and reset, so you can come back to the office feeling more refreshed. If you continually work while on vacation, you will never get the opportunity to replenish the energy and motivation you may need to put your best foot forward.

    If you are in a position where going completely silent during vacation is unacceptable, designate one time every day when you will check your work emails or respond to notifications. This is better than having constant interruptions during time off of work. No matter how minor they may seem, the alert immediately takes you back to work when you are supposed to be enjoying time off. This can lead to job burnout and fatigue, which can lead to lower performance while in the office, and poor retention by employers. Use this time to also take a notification vacation.

  4. Don’t Talk About Work

    Vacation is vacation and work is work. That means when on vacation, try not to dwell on the deadlines that may be looming when you return. If you do decide to discuss work, try not to make it the focal point of conversations for those you are with. Even if you are taking a solo vacation, the last thing you should be thinking about is work.

    Plan your days to incorporate what will really help you relax. Maybe that is keeping busy with activities from sunup to sundown. Or maybe it is sleeping in, then lounging by the pool with a good book. Whichever way you like to vacation, make sure you are getting the downtime you need.

    Office Chair with Note for Work Vacation

  5. Mitigate Inbox Overload

    One reason why some people decide to check their email while on their time off is to not return to overflowing communication when getting back to work after vacation. Whether you decide to turn off notifications completely or not, when you return to your inbox post-vacation, the best approach is divide and conquer.

    Not all emails will require an immediate response. Prioritize your projects first. That will help determine which emails need to be responded to. Then, in the upcoming weeks, try arriving an hour earlier to get caught up. Also, reach out to your supervisor or co-workers and see where they may be able to assist. Not everything can be done in the first day you are back, and by creating that expectation for not only your team, but yourself as well, it will help you get back into the swing of things without feeling like you are going crazy with a flood of to-dos.

  6. Plan Something Fun

    Coming back to work after vacation and immediately diving headfirst into work again can feel deflating. Schedule a lunch with a co-worker or plan a night where you order takeout and catch up on TV shows, so you have something to look forward to when you get back from vacation.

Finding the work-life balance in your day-to-day can make it seem less extreme when you transition from work to vacation and vice-versa. Although at times it may not seem like it, there is a way you can enjoy your vacation without losing your mind. It may take some planning on your part, but it will feel well worth before, during, and after your time off. Then, all that is left to do is start counting down the days until your next work vacation.

Doctor’s Orders: Healthcare Management for Staff Satisfaction

Employee morale is crucial for any business and with the serious nature that often surrounds healthcare management, keeping a positive mindset is of great importance.

Happy Doctor Standing in Doctor’s Office

The vibe of your practice can be felt among both colleagues and patients, so you want to ensure you have a positive atmosphere as much as possible. In the fast-paced environment doctor’s offices have, it’s important to check the pulse (no pun intended) of your staff and address their needs as much as possible. There are several ways to do this and it’s never too early to get started. With a happy healthcare staff, better work will be done, thus improving patient satisfaction.

If one of your company goals for 2017 is to create a more welcoming, calming place for your staff and your patients, here is a list of things you can do to keep everyone in a happier mood with the right healthcare management.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

While employees value compensation for a job well done, you might be surprised to know recognition is equally valuable. When people on your healthcare staff go above and beyond their job duties, a sincere note or verbal thank you can make a big difference.

Your employees most likely know how busy everyone is with keeping up with new technology, customer service requests, billing challenges, and everything else that goes into making an office run smoothly. But there’s always time to give kudos.

If you have an employee celebrating a work anniversary, buy a card for everyone to sign, initiate a group lunch, or put together another small event to show how much their work and loyalty means to the office.

Implement a Wellness Program

It only makes sense to promote a healthy lifestyle at your place of work when your work is focused on keeping others illness- and injury-free. This can be accomplished in several ways. First, stock the office kitchen or breakroom with fresh fruits and vegetables, protein bars, and other healthy snacks to keep your staff nourished throughout the day.

If it works within your budget, offer a reimbursement for gym memberships, exercises classes, or other similar wellness events. But keep in mind, it’s not only about physical wellness. Mental wellness is equally important. Schedule a chair masseuse to come by the office monthly to help your healthcare staff ease tension that may have built up throughout the day while running around the office and tending to patients.

To understand your staff needs or wants, take an informal poll or send out a company survey and see what would be most appreciated and welcome as an added perk for their hard work.

Stethoscope on Table for a Medical Consultation

Schedule Team Building Activities

Sometimes it feels good to just get out of the office. If your team has been through a recent training or has been working longer hours than usual, set up a time to get out of the office and enjoy yourselves while not thinking about work. Taking a day off from healthcare may be difficult, so try to plan far in advance so no appointments are booked on that day.

Set up a city scavenger hunt, schedule a tasting menu at a new restaurant, or if your city has the accommodations, take them to a sports event. Decide your budget for the year and make sure to allocate the funds toward these initiatives to keep the morale high all year long.

Provide Stress Relievers

Keep a stock of small stress relievers to help your healthcare staff take a few minutes to themselves every few hours. Coloring books designed for adults have been growing in popularity for their calming nature and a mindless way to be creative without having to concentrate. This can also be great to give patients to take home or have available in the waiting room.

Get a diffuser for the office to use for aromatherapy using essential oils like lavender to calm or citrus to energize. Pink Himalayan salt lamps are also often found in medical offices for their therapeutic benefits as well. Too many scents at once will be overwhelming, but a carefully chosen one can help switch the mood for the better.

Host a Company Picnic

Ever go entire work days without stepping foot outside simply because there’s not enough time? Being in a doctor’s office can mean you have back-to-back appointments, making it difficult to take a breath of fresh air. Schedule time for your staff to enjoy their lunch break or a full afternoon outside with a potluck picnic. Have everyone bring a dish to share, and have the company host the drinks, cups, plates, and silverware. Grab a couple of lawn games and soak up the sunshine. A breath of fresh air is sure to help improve everyone’s mood.

If your office simply can’t shut down for that long during the week, extend the idea to the weekend and make it a family affair. Host it at a nearby park, lake, or area where there are picnic tables, grills, and plenty of parking to make it easy on everyone.

Team of Happy Healthcare Staff Outside

Lead by Example

No matter what your office role is, your good attitude is contagious to the rest of your co-workers. Ever notice how someone who’s having a bad day immediately can bring down the entire mood of a room? The same can be said for those who are having a good day. Radiate positivity and sincerity in all you do and see how fast it starts to catch on. This alone can turn an anxious patient into having a calmer mindset.

Talk Things Through

It’s part of a doctor’s job to review patient symptoms, and this can include things not said. The same can be applied to your healthcare staff. If members of your team are being unusually quiet, reserved, or anxious, schedule a private meeting to check in with them and see what might be weighing on their minds. Sometimes in order to avoid bad morale, it’s best to address a situation before it turns into an actual problem.

Offer the Best for Your Healthcare Staff

Work can be a stressful place at times, no matter what industry you’re in, so whatever you can do to project positivity will help.

Like any prescribed regimen, it may take some time for it to work, but the key is to be consistent. Make sure if you decide to implement some of these employee appreciation initiatives, that you don’t let them dwindle after a few months. The result: a happier staff, a happier office overall, and even improved patient satisfaction.

How to Ensure Your Insurance Marketing Stays Top of Mind

In today’s competitive market, it can be hard for any company to stay top of mind, let alone an insurance company. But once people find insurance they like with costs they can afford, it’s likely they’ll stay loyal for years. They will also be more likely to refer them to their friends, family members, and co-workers.

Insurer with Paper Cutouts of Insurance CoverageThis means whether or not your target audience is actively looking for new insurance, you still want to stay top of mind. Word-of-mouth is still a great marketing resource for insurance companies, which makes it important for the majority of people to have familiarity with your insurance company. If they are a current customer, you want their loyalty. If they are not yet a customer, you want them to switch from their current insurance provider to yours. How do you achieve this?

In today’s world, online marketing is a strategic, impactful way to make it more convenient for customers to sign up for insurance with you, but there are still some tried and true tactics that will keep them on board and walking through your door. Here are a few main promotional insurance products and marketing ideas that will help you maintain your customer list and make it continue to grow.

A Token of Appreciation

Let your insurance customers know how much you appreciate their business and loyalty. Send a small gift with a personalized note saying how thankful you are to have them as a customer. Focus on the season to coordinate your gift giving. For example, during the winter holiday season, think about sending ornaments. When it’s warm outside, Koozies are a smart idea perfect for picnics, the pool, and other summer activities. Then again, everyone can use basics like hand sanitizer or lip balm; choose what you think your customers will value most.

If someone has been with your insurance company for several years, think about sending an anniversary gift for bigger milestones like five or ten years of customer loyalty. The sincerity behind what’s given is what will make the biggest difference. It will make your customers smile and remind them why they choose your insurance company in the first place.

Group of People Mingling at Networking Event

Host a Networking Event

Partner with a few other local businesses, and host a networking event that’s linked to the chamber of commerce or other professional organization. When you start with your own professional circle, it can lead to more opportunities and give visibility to your company and its offerings. Ensure you are well prepared with the event with plenty of promotional insurance products like pens, business cards, and perhaps, individual swag bags to give away to attendees so they remember your name.

Use this as an opportunity to connect with others in your community and share referrals, but also to make your branding stand out in a memorable way. Get creative with the kind of products you hand out. It doesn’t have to be all office supplies. Choose a mix of tote bags, magnets, can coolers, mugs, and other items that will be useful and enticing by those in attendance.

Perfect Your Customer Service

Excellent customer service helps your product speak for itself. Besides affordability, there isn’t a lot that differentiates one insurance company from another, which is why consumers often choose the company who has the service they like best. Friendly, helpful customer representatives can make or break it. Keep in mind, reports show it takes 12 positive customer experiences to erase a poor or unresolved one.

Filing insurance claims or understanding insurance policies can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. By having team members who make your customers feel comfortable and important, it will create loyalty for life. A great “face” to your company is one of the best products you can have.

Couple Planning Insurance Coverage with Agent

Help Your Customers Plan

Planners or calendars will help make your insurance company memorable, because for people who follow a schedule, they are constantly looking at their calendars to set appointments and remember important events. If that calendar has your company’s name and logo on it, then it’s easier to be on the top of their mind. When someone wants an insurance referral, you are the first company they say.

Make it an annual event by sending out calendars or planners to both current customers and a potentially new client base in your area. Send these out at the same time every year, and your customers will not only come to expect to receive it to replace their old one, but will appreciate the gesture as well.

Get Clever with Your Messaging

Using shaped magnets is an easy way to entice people to come in and sign up for an insurance plan or learn about the other types of insurance you offer. Maybe you have customers that use you for car insurance, but didn’t realize you also provide renter’s insurance as well. Pinpoint these types of opportunities where your services could help people further.

With shapes like light bulbs, hearts, homes, and even cats, you have options to speak to your audience in a way that is engaging and fun for them. It’s an affordable way to encourage your customer base to come visit you in person to update their policies, add other people to their plans, or let them know about insurance services you offer.

Know Your Audience

You have to know your audience no matter how you choose to market. Do you know where they are going for information? Is it convenient for them to come into your office? If not, create a reason that will benefit them or encourage them to stop by.

Separate messages that you send to current customers from the ones you send to your list of potentials. Also, don’t underestimate the power of one-to-one communication. Even if you do not have a lot of foot traffic coming through your door, it doesn’t mean you can’t be walking through the doors of other offices, campuses, and businesses to share your knowledge about insurance and the types of policies you provide.

Always make sure you have extra promotional insurance products in your car so you can have them ready whenever needed. Whether that’s an impromptu networking happy hour or a client meeting scheduled on the same day, you will want to be prepared to represent your company and keep your brand top of mind as much as possible with stellar insurance marketing.

Fidget Spinners: Are They This Generation’s Doodles?

Child Doodling with Markers

The history of doodling has evolved as the history of writing instruments have progressed. What started as scratching rocks against caves as means for communication has evolved into creative ways people choose to fidget and pass the time when they’re bored or anxious. From writing in the margins of notebooks, on scraps of paper, and nearly anywhere there’s a surface, doodling comes in many forms.

In the 1980s, when Trapper Keepers were all the rage, it would be rare to find a “blank” binder that wasn’t full of stickers and Sharpie doodles. This period of doodling was the result of boredom from teenagers in class, but it was also a way to express feelings about their favorite bands, gossip about their teachers, and share messages of love for their boyfriend/girlfriend. Remember doodling your crush’s initials paired with yours in a heart? Oh, the memories! The doodles of the 80s were a way to pass time until the bell rang, but they also usually meant something personal to the one doodling.

As doodlers transitioned into the grunge era of the 90s, pen marks of circles, hearts, and bubble lettering transferred from paper and onto jeans and shoes; sometimes even making its ways to arm, legs, and hands, as well. For some, these doodles might have been the precursor to first tattoos. Doodles of this decade were a combination of fidgeting and a reflection of the person’s artistic and emotional side.

Enter Fidget Spinners

Do kids today still doodle like they did in decades past? It’s not surprising to see a notebook or two still filled with sketches and scribbles. But in many cases, laptops or iPads have replaced paper notebooks. If pen and paper are no longer the primary or preferred form of note-taking, how do people doodle? The fidget spinner, this year’s toy craze, has taken over schools across the country. What seems like a simple innovation has captured the attention of many.

Child Playing with Fidget Spinners

Fidget spinners were created to help kids release stress in a positive way. Some suggest they provide health benefits and soothing side effects. Does this mean we’ve learned to fidget better? Was all the doodling of years past child’s play and the way we fidget now a smarter way to avoid boredom? Not necessarily.

The Benefits of Fidgeting

One of the key points made about fidget spinners being more than just a toy trend,  bringing doodling and fidgeting full circle, is that the body movements used to play with the fidget spinner is part of the expression process. In one Forbes article, where they break down the science of fidget spinners, it says, “fidgeting could actually help you think and express yourself.” Ultimately, the fidgeting tool or medium doesn’t matter, it’s the attempt to relieve stress that’s the common denominator.

Much like the use of worry stones and stress balls in the past, the use of fidget spinners is a comforting habit that helps combat anxiety in a benign way. Whether or not fidget spinners truly provide health benefits is still up for discussion, but what is certain is that humans naturally seek out stress relief, and this generation is no exception. Whether it’s with a pen and notebook, a marker and sneakers, or a fidget spinner, it’s proof that sometimes the simplest things are what can calm us down and help us focus.