Get free stuff: tips from a Conference Maven

In the 2009 film “Up in the Air”, George Clooney is such a frequent flyer that he knows all the tricks: which line to stand in at check-in, how to get an upgrade, and which seats to choose on which plane.

Sometimes I feel a bit like the George Clooney of conferences. Go to enough and eventually you learn the tricks of the trade: which sessions to go to and which to skip; when to schmooze outside and when to queue up; where the closed unadvertised sessions (where the real stuff happens) meet; even, in some places, how to get into the more exclusive after-parties without getting into too much trouble.

And so here I am, wandering around Jerusalem’s ICC before the Jewish Federation of North America’s General Assembly officially opens. And here’s why.

As every serious conference-goer knows,  the first thing you do at a big conference is to walk the stalls at the exhibition. Here’s where the companies, NGOs and other organisations have stalls explaining what they do and encouraging people to buy, donate or get involved.

The stalls are there for the whole conference, of course. But the smart conference-goer walks the exhibition early to get the freebies and gimmicks.

The standard freebies are little chocolates (sometimes branded), badges and pens. Some stalls, though, make extra effort to get people to stop at them, hear their message,  and maybe carry their brand around. These top gimmicks go quickly as everyone sees other people with them and wants one for themselves, so it pays to get there early.

Here are my top GA freebies so far:

Tel Hai Academic College: Miracle Berry tablets.

Miracle berry tablets. Weird.
Miracle berry tablets. Weird.

These strange berries make everything taste sweet by temporarily altering your taste buds. Suck on one for a few minutes and then you can munch through lemons

El Al: Teddy bears

El Al bears
El Al bears

Lots of people were getting these for their kids – or so they claimed.

The Israel Project – Ice-cream scoops

Times of Israel, bringing you all the latest Israel scoops
Times of Israel, bringing you all the latest Israel scoops

An unusually practical gimmick sporting the Israel Project’s new logo

Israeli Jewish Congress: Umbrellas disguised as liqueur bottles

IMG_20131110_202303Definitely the top freebie so far, these are useful and interesting-looking and have a built-in handle too. The stall also had really good pens.

About the Author
Arieh Kovler is a public affairs, PR and communication professional. Before his aliya he was the Head of Policy and Research for Britain's Jewish Leadership Council and director of the Fair Play Campaign, the UK's coordination body against anti-Zionist activity.
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