Last week we had the pleasure of attending one of our fav conferences — The Financial Blogger Conference, better known as FinCon. It’s a personal finance blogger meetup founded by PT Money  where “money meets media.” We reconnected with some old friends and met new ones. Overall it was a bunch of fun.
But enough about that. We’re here to talk about booths, and we’re here to talk about top notch SWAG.
This year, our SWAG came courtesy of the booths from the FinCon expo hall. There was a decent variety of companies on display, and many of them stood out with some truly impressive layouts and gifts. But before we jump into our top picks, let’s break down our scoring rubric.
We’re all about SCIENCE here at Bargaineering, so we judged booths on the follow categories:
- Location: Where is the booth? Is it easy to find? Is it back in a corner where we don’t feel safe venturing? This is pretty important, because we have only so much time to navigate the expo hall, we gotta be efficient.
- Display: Is it coloful? Does your booth reflect the company/brand it’s supposed to be representing? Is it creative? Inviting? It’s like a little home, we should want to spend some quality time in this place.
- People: Are your booth interns playing Candy Crush or talking to me? This is crucial. We’re full of ourselves, and want, nay, DEMAND, your full attention when perusing your booth. We shouldn’t be sitting there hoping you’ll talk to us. You gotta be lively, attentive (not overly so, that’s creepy, man) and most of all, informative and helpful.
- SWAG: Ok, I’ll admit, all that other stuff I said is crap. I just want cool stuff to take home. But I’m only gonna make room in my carry-on bag for the absolute best SWAG — no cheap pens or chintzy key chains allowed. We want quality, we want creativity, we want fun, and ultimately we want UTILITY. What can I do with this thing you have? Would I be embarrassed to admit owning this thing in public? That’s paramount here.
Ok, so now you have an idea of our (totally FUBAR) grading method, let’s get down to the booths.
4. Loan Depot
I like these guys. Their booth was in a prime locale, right at the beginning of the aisle, which is hard to beat. And c’mon, look at all that color! It works well with the brand, It’s coordinated well and just seems like a pleasing place to be. The young lady stationed at the booth when I dropped by was helpful, unobtrusive and allowed me to stroll around and admire the booth while just hitting me with some light conversation.
And then there’s the candy.You can’t really go wrong with candy. And they had little boxes for you to scoop as much as your hands could carry. They kept with the theme throughout the candy, which is just a nice touch. A small downside is that the containers didn’t seem like they’d hold up well in a bag filled with other crap — I actually decided not to gamble on that myself. But that’s nitpicking. Nice design. Friendly people. Good locale. And Candy. Win.
3. Ally Bank
I’ll start off by saying this pic doesn’t do the booth justice. I grabbed this pic on the last day, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. It was colorful and fit the theme and brand of Ally perfectly. They had monitors with live Twitter feeds, they were recording Vines for their #6SecondFinance  campaign — it was a high tech affair, and done well. Now where they hit the daily double is with SWAG.
They came prepared with usability and yumibility. Making a return from last year are their utterly adorable and scrumptious Ally Oreos. I think these are individually-wrapped parcels of crack-cocaine — It’s impossible to have just one. And any more than 5 will require an overnight stay at the local hospital, but it’s totally worth it. Secondly we have their portable USB chargers. These things will help in a pinch if one of your mobile devices runs out of juice — ingenious at a techie/blog convention.
Bankrate keeps it professional — no need to be overly flashy here.We get a spic-and-span layout and design, with the goodies being the highlight of the display. Bankrate also had some prime real estate, right up front, off the busiest isle.
SWAG-wise we get a decent mash of extreme usability (high-quality coffee mugs with a nice leatherette sleeve) to something more funky (Bankrate-branded wine openers!). This is just a good overall blend of fun and function. They were also running their “so bad it’s good” #LOLFinance  campaign from here. Check it out. It’s gold.
To top if off, the booth peeps were helpful and knowledgeable (full disclose: Brandon and Claes were stationed at this booth to help out). Now, I’ll add that I’m not sure how easy it will be to sneak the wine openers through airport security, but if anything that just makes the idea of corporate-branded wine-openers even more awesome.
And the winner is…
Just look at this friggin’ booth. Take a second to process how much stuff we’ve got going on here. There’s a lounge, there’s a life-size JENGA tower, we’ve got a variety of snacks from water, chips to a FREEZER FULL OF FROZEN TREATS. We’ve got stress pigs, eyeglass cloths, and, probably coolest of all, phone charging stations.
Seriously, you can’t beat this. It’s impossible. All they’re missing is DAFT PUNK manning a DJ booth full time. Everything is covered here, and it all works. After a full day of Finconning those couches are the most inviting place on earth. And I almost forgot to mention the people. So nice! So cheery! And with all of that, they somehow managed to squeeze in a couple Chase brochures in case you were interested.
Stellar job, guys, top to bottom.
Honorable Mention: Pierry
And here we have guys offering shots of Jameson. I mean, what else do I need to say.
They also have wristbands, because, y’know: wristbands. But yea, shots of Jameson. And you can keep the glass. Had to mention these dudes. Nice guys. Cheers.
So there you have it. All around it was a very well put together event. All of the vendors were impressive and the people were fantastic. If you’ve never been to FinCon, go. It’s great. You’ll never find a more tight-knit, fun-loving bunch of folks.
Congrats to all the booths. We truly enjoyed ourselves and absolutely hoarded so much SWAG.*
’til next year.
* If there’s anything SWAG that catches your fancy above, drop us a comment and we’ll see if we have any extras to send your way!