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Go Beyond the T-Shirt With These Merchandise Ideas

T-shirts, hats, keychains, and water bottles are great, traditional products to sell, but if you’re already committing to selling physical merchandise, why not get creative?

Enamel Pins:

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Pins have been a popular collectible for decades — Olympic pin trading is one of the most popular collection hobbies out there. Just recently, though, enamel pin collecting has reached new heights, driven largely by young artists and their fans online. You can find the pins all over Instagram, decorating popular users’ lapels, bags, and jackets.

As trends go, this one is still gaining steam, and it’s spreading beyond the Internet, and beyond Millennials.

Your branding alone may not make a pin a big seller, so consider what unique imagery might best represent your brand, tours or experiences. Artists can be commissioned to create interesting, original designs on sites like Fiverr. Make sure you get a commercial license for the design, and keep it simple — not too many colors or fine details. Then you just need to pick one of the thousands of worldwide pin manufacturers and place your order.

Need inspiration? Search for #enamelpin on Instagram for an explosion of popular pin designs.

Bags (Beyond the Tote)

Tote bags are a classic piece of merchandise and with good reason. They’re inexpensive, easy to get printed, and useful. Everyone needs to carry something once in a while, right?

But totes are just one option when it comes to bags, and they’re hardly the most exciting one. If you’re considering selling bags, consider what will complement your brand and your activities.

Pocket belts: If you run all-day festival style activities, consider selling pocket belts. Also known as hip bags, utility belts, belt bags, and — yes — the dreaded “fanny pack,” these are popular with festival-goers because they hold the essentials, don’t occupy hands or shoulders, and are particularly challenging to steal. Plus, modern options can be very fashionable.

Sports packs: Any activity that involves a lot of foot travel demands a good sports pack. You can help your less-prepared guests out by selling small, light day packs. Or sell a “day trip essentials” package with a bag, water bottle, and allergen-free energy bar.

Artisan bags: Do guests visit your region for its unique culture? Work with local artisans to sell premium hand-crafted bags. For a lot of travelers, there’s no better souvenir than a practical, functional piece of hand-crafted art.

Postcard Packs

Everyone has a postcard rack. They’re so ubiquitous that most customers don’t even see them, not unless they’re looking for a truly cheap, quick souvenir.

But a postcard pack is different. Put together 10 carefully-chosen images that represent your company’s experiences and your locales, wrap them in a nice package, and sell the idea of writing home. Package them with a pen and stamps, or sell them in pairs as a BOGO deal. Customers can keep 10 to frame or put in their scrapbooks and send the other 10 home to their loved ones. “Wish you were here, taking these awesome tours.” You can even include your website URL on the back of the cards for a little stealth advertising.

Sourcing the images can be a great opportunity, too. You can hire a photographer, but you can also work with local artists or hold a photo competition for your customers (just make sure to secure the rights).

Local food

If your guests come to you for an authentic local experience, you can help them out by selling local foods. Not fresh food, which is generally subject to a lot more legal requirements, but preserves, packaged treats, and other goodies.

Just as food tours have become more popular in recent years, so too has less-structured foodie tourism. If there’s a local specialty that can be packaged and sold, you may well find it to be a fantastic seller. Honey, oils, chocolates, spices and all sorts of preserves are making it home as souvenirs. If you offer food tours, so much the better — give the guest a taste to take with them.

Written by

Nissa Campbell is a writer who covers tourism and technology. Since 2014, she has been documenting booking software at Rezgo, and working with tour operators at all levels of the industry to help them find solutions to their technical needs.

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