Grab your Lanyard, Trade Shows are back!

Trade shows are back

A Greater Appreciation for Trade Shows

Trade shows are back after a year of cancellations. Exhibitors and attendees are ready for their return.

While organizations shifted to virtual meetings out of necessity, the experience was generally inferior compared to the live events. In many cases, even our personal relationships were forced into the virtual realm.

2020 shined the spotlight on the human need for face-to-face connections that were previously taken for granted. Trade Shows, Conferences and live Events are coming back to renew those in-person connections. Event planners and venues are adjusting their focus to attract the lanyard-wearing crowds.

The 2021 Trade Show Industry Projections

Experts in the $100+ billion US trade show and exhibition industry report that the in-person events are slowly coming back after the lost year. The uncertainty of 2020 rolled over into the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2021 leaving planners to look ahead to the 2nd half of the year for dates. Unfortunately, large Conferences and Trade Shows are booked years in advance so their window of opportunity has passed for 2021. Especially for the shows that are normally booked from January thru June.

Although 2022 will be a big comeback year for in-person events, some predict that a full recovery will not happen until 2023. For the rest of 2021, planners will have difficulty in forecasting attendance reluctant to crowd into expo halls with strangers.

Early social signals are positive for the industry as people crowd into restaurants and book Summer vacations with their families. Facebook is loaded with posts of families gathering after a year apart. Grocery stores are filled with unmasked shoppers happy to see smiles once again.

Industry Obstacles for Trade Shows to Come Back

While attendee concerns about safety and health are relaxing a bit, venues and planners are taking extra precautions to ease the concerns of some who may be on the fence. As a result, many venues have upgraded their ventilation systems to improve air cleanliness. Sanitation stations will be a mainstay in large expo halls. Even exhibitors will be a part of the solution as they hand out branded hand sanitizers at their booth.

There are still some obstacles for the rest of 2021 –

  • How quickly can trade shows get back on the venue calendar?
  • Are attendees ready to return?
  • After a year of virtual networking, do attendees feel a need to attend?
  • Do Exhibitors have budgets for in-person events for 2021?
  • Are attendees an international audience with travel restrictions?
  • Will organizations be willing to pay for in-person attendance when a less expensive virtual experience may be available?

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Even though less than 50% of our exhibiting customers we reached out to plan to attend in-person events this year, the good news is that 100% are already planning for 2022 events.

We made it through 2020 selling PPEs, Virtual Conference Kits and Commercial Printing to our customers deemed as essential businesses. Our excitement about the return of trade shows began when our first exhibiting customer, MedAmour, reached out to us to help them with their exhibit at the IECSC, International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference in Las Vegas this month. MedAmour needed Tablecloths, Signage and Tote Bags for their booth. We were happy to oblige!

Since then, the orders have been increasing from our returning exhibitor customers. Our conference planning customers are reaching out to us as they budget for their large 2022 events as well.

As a supplier of Promotional Products to trade show exhibitors and meeting planners, we’re bullish about the future of in-person events. They’re slowly coming back and we expect a strong resurgence of trade shows and conferences in 2022.

We’re happy to get back to our core business that we love.

How to choose the right Custom Water Bottle

Serving up an effective business gift should be done with some thought. One of the most thoughtful and well received promotional gifts to give is a Custom Water Bottle. Here’s why…

  • They get reused – Environmentally Friendly
  • Daily use gets your brand noticed frequently
  • Versatile – Good for Water, Coffee, or even Skittles!

With so many choices, selecting the right promotional Water Bottle can be a daunting task. Here are some considerations to guide you in your decision.


Understand why you’re giving away a free Custom Water Bottle to someone. If it was as simple as giving away a free water bottle, you could go to Target and buy a cheap water bottle and hand it to them. That totally misses the point.

Face it, the real reason that businesses and events give away custom water bottles is to have their Brand remembered.


If I sent you a free Stainless Steel Tumbler with my company logo & website URL printed on it, you would understand my intention. I would hope that the next time you were looking for custom printed drinkware you would consider browsing my company’s website to find what you need. That Brand Recognition can lead to a sale.


Unlike a gift card or cash that is forgotten shortly after they’re spent, a high-quality water bottle will leave a long-lasting impression. Your Gratitude will be remembered for months, if not years, to come. Don’t go cheap for this purpose. Spend enough to let them know that you’re truly grateful for their efforts.


Giving attendees a water bottle printed with an event and date remind them that you shared a good memory with them. A Company Picnic, a Conference, or a Fun Run are all events that scream out for souvenirs. The image printed on these souvenirs is more important than the actual bottle. AND they may return for next year’s event to add to their collection.

Consider the Recipient

Don’t focus on the Water Bottle yet.

Next to understanding your Purpose for giving the Custom Water Bottle, your recipient is the most important consideration in choosing the right one to give. Here are some things to consider about the recipient…

  • Occupation – Executive? Retail Store Employee? Salesperson?
  • Lifestyle – Active? Desk Jockey? Commuter?
  • Age – Youth? Boomer? Senior?
  • Event Attendee – Business? Family? Competitive?

You may not have the answers to all of these questions unless your recipients are a very specific group like a High School Men’s Volleyball Team.

More often than not, you’ll need to make some general assumptions about the group you’re giving the water bottle gift to. Any common demographics can help.

Employees of all ages that work in the office at a desk provides you with enough to know they drive to work and have desk space. A coffee travel tumbler would be a good choice for this group.

A little thought about the recipient will help you determine your budget, the style, and the material of the promotional water bottle gift to give.


Now that you know the WHY and the WHO, you can start to focus on the Drinkware.

Budget is the first consideration that most companies start with in finding the right drinkware gift. Let’s be honest though, a $3.00 plastic tumbler will definitely miss the mark for saying thank you to a C-level executive. On the flip side of that, giving a teenager a $20.00 Stainless Coffee Travel Mug probably isn’t the best use of your budget either.

Quantity will have an effect on your decision process because the final budget is what has to be approved. That $20.00 Stainless Travel Mug is easier to sell to the boss if you’re only giving them to 50 people.

Looking at your final total budget for the project and the number of people you are giving the gift to will determine a price range for the water bottle gift.

PROs and CONs of Water Bottle Materials

How the drinkware will be used can help you determine which style to choose from.


Cost: $3.00 – $75.00


  • Durable
  • High perceived value
  • Long Lasting
  • Recyclable
  • Most are dishwasher safe
  • Holds hot or cold liquids


  • Heavier than Aluminum or Plastic
  • Heats up in hot temperatures


Cost: $3.00 – $20.00


  • Lightweight
  • Recyclable
  • Holds hot or cold liquids
  • Most are dishwasher safe


  • Easily dents
  • Heats up in hot temperatures


Cost: $3.00 – $20.00


  • Taste free
  • Long Lasting
  • High perceived value
  • Hold hot or cold liquids
  • Dishwasher safe


  • Breakable
  • Pricier Option
  • Heavy
  • Not for active use


Cost:$1.00 – $3.00


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Freezable
  • Recyclable
  • Easy to clean


  • Not for hot liquids
  • Can have odd taste

Get started…

If you search the internet for “Cool custom water bottles” or contact your local promotional products company and ask for “What’s new in water bottles”, you’ll be just as confused as you were before you read this article.

Hopefully I gave you the questions to ask yourself that will help narrow down your options and guide you in choosing the right custom water bottle for your business or event.

Once you answer these questions you can get started in your search by knowing more about what you need. Armed with your purpose, knowledge of your audience and what you can spend to make your project successful.

What’s your favorite Custom Water Bottle?

Agua Fria Freddie 2021 – Arizona’s Groundhog Day

Rattlesnake Pic

While onlookers in Pennsylvania are bundled up, anxious to see what Punxsutawney Phil forecasts on February 2nd, here in Arizona, we have our own weather prognosticator. Agua Fria Freddie! Arizona’s Groundhog Day!

Agua Fria Freddie, the legendary rattlesnake comes out every year to predict the coming of spring. Whether you care or not,  his accuracy is way better than his Pennsylvania counterpart. Freddie’s East Coast Weather Peer is only correct in his predictions 39% of the time since his first showing in 1887.

The legendary, yet lesser-known, Agua Fria Freddie lives right here in Arizona with a 98.8% accuracy rate.

Locals know him as Agua Fria Freddie, a shadow-seeking rattlesnake that comes out every year on February 2nd to predict the coming of Spring to us desert-dwellers.

This event is actually a non-event, as we cannot find record of any gathering to watch this legend search for his shadow. There are some legitimate reasons for not having an actual event to celebrate his findings this year. 

  • Tourists are already in shorts and t-shirts so they don’t care.
  • Social-Distancing… Need we say more?
  • Bill Murray was not available this year for the event.
  • Nobody ever volunteers to get close enough to look for the shadow of a rattlesnake.
  • The big party is at the Phoenix Open Golf Tournament
  • Football fans are busy preparing for Super Bowl LV

Don’t let his cute little Heart-Shaped picture lure you in for a closer look.

It’s not difficult to predict when Spring will arrive in Arizona when the sun shines 300+ days a year, but it is comforting to know that Agua Fria Freddie is watching out for us.

Just watch out for him the other 364 days a year when you’re hiking around South Mountain in Phoenix.


August 28th is National Red Wine Day

National Red Wine Day is actually celebrated twice a year. The August 28th event was created in 2013 to promote Red Wine during the Summer months. While the October 15th event origins are less clear.

Today’s celebration of this beloved beverage lands on a Friday, the day of choice for online wine parties with friends and family.

Our six months of virtual online wine parties during isolation have increased wine sales by 28% in 2020 yet the store shelves have remained fully stocked.

The History of Wine

About 6,000 years ago, the first winery was established in what is now Armenia. The ancient Greeks used wine for trade, religion and health as early as 800 BC. They cultivated grapes in Italy and Spain as they conquered their lands. In the 1300s, Europeans had no steady supply of clean drinking water causing the public (including children) to drink wine. In the 1500s, Spain introduces wine to the new world as a completely new alcoholic beverage.

California wines earn recognition in the 1970s after being snubbed for decades by critics worldwide. The domestic wine industry was ignited by this and today there are over 10,000 wineries in the US. Wineries exist in all 50 states.

Wine by the numbers

California boasts 4,613 wineries in 2020 producing 86% of all domestic wine, followed by Washington, Oregon, New York and Texas.

Of the legal drinking population, 49% drink wine. 54% of those consumers are Women while 46% are men and Red Wine is preferred over White Wine by a 65/35 ratio. The Wine Institute reported in 2018, the average consumer drank 2.95 gallons of wine per year making the US the largest wine consuming country by volume but the per capita rate is lower than many other countries.

Baby Boomers are 34% of the wine market, matched only by the Millennials, also at 34%. Gen X’ers and Gen Z’ers trail at 21% and 7% respectively.

Take it for a Swirl

Swirling your glass of wine aerates the beverage to release the aromas. Much of the pleasure in drinking wine comes from the many scents you inhale as you raise the glass to your nose. Once swirled, the aromas will settle in the glass so you don’t need to swirl every sip.

Many experts agree that red wine does not have to be served at the optimal room temperature of 65 – 70 degrees but rather, drink the wine at the temperature you enjoy. Chilling red wine in Summer months make it a more refreshing choice.

So tonight when your saying ‘cheers’ your virtual friends in front of your computer screen, enjoy the variety of wine that you like best at whatever temperature you like and toast National Red Wine Day.


Promotional Wine Glasses

Today is National Dog Day

August 26th is National Dog Day. This year, more than ever, our furry friends should be revered as National Heroes as they’ve kept us sane during the boredom of working from home.

Their unconditional love and insatiable need for attention have been a much needed distraction from the daily grind of sitting in our makeshift home offices.

Your dog’s schedule has been thrown off as much as yours during this shift in our new normal. T-R-E-A-Ts are requested (or demanded) more frequently throughout the day.

W-A-L-Ks are more frequent in my home as we both battle the urge to walk into the kitchen.

It’s no surprise that the American Pet Products Association estimates that in 2020 we will spend $99B on our pets and dogs are, by far, the largest category in that estimate. We spend money on toys for them but, like Kids, they prefer other items from your closet (my dog loves my dirty socks) to play with.

Unlike 6 months ago, my home office now includes a dog bed where my dog can nap and occasionally look up as I tap on my keyboard. He was a little thrown off in March when I altered my working situation but now I think he’s loving his new normal.

Give your little fuzzy hero an extra squeeze today for all of his help in making your new normal just a little more tolerable. After all, it is his day.


Markit on PPEs for Your Business

Huge selection of Personal Protective Equipment

In March, OSHA released a 35 page document with Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 that includes recommendations to employers about how to create a safe workplace for employees and customers.

Empty Shelves

Initially, Essential businesses scrambled to find the appropriate PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) to keep the workplace safe but the items they needed were nowhere to be found. Suppliers, unprepared for the increased demand, also scrambled to find alternative sources to fulfill the need.

Store shelves emptied as masks, bandannas and hand sanitizers were gobbled up by the general public. Thousands of home-made masks and face-covers started to be offered on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy to fill the void. Even recipes for making your own hand sanitizer circulated around the internet.

I personally witnessed a mother at the grocery store asking for the largest, cheapest bottle of vodka to make her own hand sanitizer for her family.

We’ve Got You Covered!

In response to the high demand for PPEs for businesses to create a safe workplace, Markit has assembled over 500 PPE related products for business owners and managers to find every solution to their unique business COVID safety requirements all in one place.

Of course, we have masks (over 130 to choose from) but we also assembled a selection of distancing barriers, infrared thermometers, coronavirus safety signs, social distancing floor decals, hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes, UV light device sanitizers and bandannas. Basically, we think we have thought of everything a business will need for workplace safety.

A Brand-New Opportunity?

In 2009, during the first season of the hit TV show ‘Shark Tank‘, the investors were presented with an opportunity to buy into a business of custom printed surgical masks. All 5 Sharks passed on the idea in 2009 but if they were presented with the opportunity in January of 2020 I’m sure the outcome would have been very different.

Of course, we’re a branding company so we see the opportunity for businesses to prominently display their company logo, slogan or positive message. PPEs are viewed hundreds of times daily on every face in public, every retail floor and every entrance to every business the public visits.

It’s amazing how fast PPEs have become necessary in our daily life and in the operation of our businesses. With the introduction of new products with such high visibility, businesses are now presented with the opportunity to utilize this space as an effective marketing tool.

Over 500 PPE Products To Choose From

Our selection of 500+ PPE products offer businesses the opportunity to display their company brand prominently.

Browse the product categories we have assembled for your business.

For guidance in selecting PPEs for your specific workplace requirements, call us at 877.553.0857.

Sweet Swag for Your Virtual Conference

Photo by Sharad kachhi on

I don’t know about you but I loved the anticipation of planning to attend an industry Conference or Trade Show. My excitement grows as I track the countdown to the date on my calendar before every conference.

The promise of networking with like-minded professionals in my industry, new products, new ideas, seeing old friends… the SWAG!

With Live Events in disarray, not only did all of the Conferences and Trade Shows cancel that Markit4Events provided SWAG for, but all of the Conferences I planned to personally attend cancelled too. No trips to Vegas, NYC or Dallas are on my calendar this year. No countdown of anticipation. No SWAG!

Sure, I can attend a Virtual Conference (and I reluctantly have) but there’s a lot missing from the experience…

Can you hear me now?

The Virtual Conference feels like more of a chore while I sit at my desk totally distracted by my phone, email and other things I’d rather be doing.

The learning sessions still provide me with useful information but, unlike an actual classroom, my phone is not silenced and my emails keep coming. It’s not the speaker’s fault, they’re still delivering the knowledge.

I’m just not engaged. The virtual background on the screen is distracting and feels inauthentic. I find myself checking out, while I hear the speaker but I’m not listening.

I have very distinct memories of past conferences I have attended but I guarantee that by the following week, the Virtual Conference will be long gone from my ability to recall it.

Elevate the anticipation

Social media, emails and text messages are great for reminding attendees that the conference is ‘coming soon’ but do these tools really create anticipation and excitement for the event?

Virtual messages are like bumper stickers on the super highway of digital information we are bombarded with every day.

Pre-Engage your Virtual Attendees with a Gift

Build anticipation and excitement for your Virtual Meetings by sending your pre-registered attendees a Virtual Conference Gift Set. We have not only created Standard Kits to make your selection easy, but we can print, build, package and send custom kits made up with any items on our site.

Physical SWAG Kits build a sense of engagement with Virtual Conference Attendees. This is a win for sponsors too. The purpose of sponsoring an event is to engage the attendees. Virtual Conferences without the SWAG can only offer digital banners and follow up emails. Sponsors want a leave-behind physical item like a Water Bottle, a T-Shirt, or a Tote Bag that will display their logo for months after the event.

Earbuds are one of our favorite gifts for Virtual Conferences because the attendees will tune-out the distractions at the office or at home during the Meeting.

Engage your Speakers to Engage your Attendees

Without the sites, sounds and energy of a physical Conference, not only are your attendees missing out on the excitement but your speakers will be too. Selecting the right speakers for your sessions will be paramount to keep your attendees engaged.

Although a speaker may have the information you want to provide in the session, they may not be polished in a Virtual Conference setting. Face it, sessions about Finance or Government regulations can even be dry and boring in person, even though the information is important. Especially after the lunch break!

Virtual interviews with your Speakers will give you a feel for what it will be like for your attendees. Consider a moderator, a second voice, in the session that can add some color-commentating (like we see in all sports broadcasts) to raise the energy level.

Provide your Speakers with feedback about their on-screen energy level and the quality of their virtual meeting technology. They’re not always professional speakers and will appreciate the guidance. You can also provide them with the tools to create a better environment with Graphic Back Walls branded for your event and Wireless Earbuds for a better connection without being tethered to their screen.

Don’t consider these tools as Speaker Gifts. Give them a special thank you gift that they’ll keep forever to show your appreciation for their extra effort. Some of our favorites include Wireless Headphones, BBQ Grilling Accessories and Bluetooth Speakers.

Lifestyle gifts, things they’ll use at home, add a personal touch to your gratitude.

Keep the energy level high to keep your attendees engaged. Trivia, contests and rewards during your virtual conference can help keep your attendees engaged…And Awake at their desk!

Improve Your Virtual Meetings

FaceTime, Zoom and other video apps have become the ‘norm’ for staying connected with our family and friends during the unexpected Covid quarantine. Even the ‘Old Dogs’ have learned new tricks to keep in touch. Birthday Parties, Happy Hours, and even Family Dinners have been shared so that we can still feel connected to the people we love.

With the spike in Virtual Meetings over the last few months, businesses have been forced into a sudden paradigm shift in their connectivity as well.

While employers focus on training their workforce to utilize the digital tools, little, if any, guidance has been provided about the visual presence for their employees during the meetings.

Communication skills that work well in a conference room in-person may not translate seamlessly to the ‘Brady Bunch’ – style quadrants on a computer screen.

Tips for Successful Virtual Engagement

Eliminate Distractions – Find a quiet place in your home or office for your meetings. This is an easier task at the office, but Work-from-Home employees may struggle with finding a space that suitable for a professional meeting. You can create workspace for your Work-from-Home employees that will eliminate visual distractions in the background by providing them with a graphic back wall.

The wall creates a workspace and allows you, the employer, to manage the visual content of the meeting. Custom design the graphics to include the company brand.

Look at the Lens, not the people on the screen –

Our natural instinct is to look people in the eye when we’re having a conversation. Our training to do so doesn’t work in virtual meetings at all and it’s distracting to the other people in the meeting. It’s a new trick that requires a lot of practice to get it right. The webcam is where the recipient’s eyes are not on the screen.

Practice, practice, practice with your virtual meeting team until they get it right. It’s not easy.

Speak with a strong voice –

They don’t need to yell or over-enunciate but depending on where the microphone is, it may be difficult to be understood. We’ve experienced how distracting it is over the last few months while watching television programs where virtual interviews go wrong because of poor sound quality.

Once again, practice with your virtual meeting employees while they are in their workspace, using their computer so you can provide valuable feedback.

Put your phone away –

You don’t need it! Even if your phone is in silent mode, pop up notifications for texts or emails will distract you for a moment. Recommend that they put the phone in silent mode and leave it in the other room.

Our phones follow us everywhere but we know better than to take it into an in-person meeting with us. Do the same during virtual meetings.

Dress appropriately, at least from the waist up –

One of the advantages of working from home is that you can dress very casually. It may be obvious to dress appropriately but it should certainly be included on your list of recommendations during your virtual meeting training.

If they do dress for the meeting from the waist up only. Remind them not to reach for something on the shelf above them to expose their Roy Rogers pajama bottoms, or worse. The video of that mishap might go viral on YouTube.

Our recommendations to Employers

You can still manage your Work-from Home employees during their virtual meetings to ensure that they are representing your organizational brand as intended by you. Consider implementing the following recommendations.

  • Create some simple guidelines for them to follow.
  • Provide equipment with quality microphone and webcam.
  • Train for and practice with your team for virtual meetings.
  • Manage your brand by providing them with background graphics, company apparel and even drinkware with your company logo to remind the people on the screen of who you are.

The Grand Re-Opening (Post-COVID)

In the movie Forrest Gump, while all of the other shrimp boats were tied up in the harbor to weather the looming storm, the unaware Forrest stayed out in the high seas to continue shrimping. He and Lieutenant Dan battled to stay afloat and stay alive.

When they returned after the storm they found that all of the other shrimp boats that were tightly tied up in the harbor to survive the storm had all been destroyed because of the efforts to save them. Only the ‘JENNY’ had survived the storm because they kept their boat out on the water – staying FLUID in the situation.

There’s a great lesson for all of us business owners in that scene. BE FLUID in the midst of a crisis to stay afloat.

The COVID-19 storm left many of us in uncharted, turbulent waters that very few of us had ever considered in our Emergency Preparedness Planning.

Rapid Crisis Planning

When the crisis reared its ugly head, we all switched gears into Rapid Crisis Planning mode. Many businesses were forced to close because they were deemed not ‘Essential’, while some stayed open but were required to keep their employees and customers safe. On the other hand, others saw an exponential increase in demand for their products and services that they were scrambling to provide.

The moment that threw me into the fire of Rapid Crisis Planning came after my first phone call from a Conference, that Markit provides products for, to say they were cancelling the event.

It forced us to define what was Essential within our own businesses to come out on the other side of the unknown after an uncertain period of time. We had to Assess the Threats to our businesses by realizing the things we could control as well as the potential threats we had no control over.

I did an immediate Inventory of my Resources

  • Cash on hand
  • Payables/ Receivables
  • Employee Retention Possibilities
  • Available Credit
  • Government Relief Options
  • Analyze Large Customer’s future ordering potential

This probably sounds very familiar to the leadership of every company in this country.

Planning for a Grand Re-Opening

Many states are beginning the process of re-opening by cautiously relaxing or ending the stay at home mandates and allowing some companies to resume business. However, re-opening your business is not as simple as unlocking the doors and turning on the lights. There’s a lot to consider…

In planning for your Grand Re-Opening Post-COVID, you’re going to need to forget your January mentality because, at the very least, it’s not going to be business as usual in the short-term.

A little Empathy will serve you well in your marketing efforts and in the re-engagement with your employees. Everyone is going to have a story about their experience, some may be heart-breaking.

Plan as much as you can for the short-term and consider the contingencies for the long-term. We’re not through this yet but there is a lot to be learned from this experience.

Be FLUID in the moment and your ship will have a better chance of staying afloat.

Markit with Power

Tuscany Power bank & Wireless Speaker

Keeping our technology powered up during the day has become a challenge as our lives become more mobile and disconnected from the nearest outlet. Our biggest surge in sales last year was in ACCESSORIES to our technology that allows us our connected, productive days at work or home.

We tax our devices with our demand on them for remote power and connectivity access. Even at our not-so-mobile desk devices we wish we had just one more USB port to plug into.

Customers are grateful for the gift of power and connectivity, and marking these useful products with your brand will energize your image and create a buzz around their office.

Simple items like USB AC Adapters can save the day in a pinch while Solar Chargers add an extra sense of comfort knowing that power is available when no outlets are near.

Even at the office where power is abundant, you can leave your mark on a USB HUB that will be permanently attached to the laptop your customer stares at all day long.

These powerful accessories can be colorful as well as useful, supporting your brand as a helpful partner in their day.