Make Mine Truffles

For speaker gifts, Heidi VanDerVoorn encourages giving regional items. Event coordinators, conference planners, and anyone involved in recruiting or managing speakers for an event know the importance of saying “thank you” to those generous souls willing to stand before an audience to entertain and inform.

How thanks are given to speakers can range from simple thank-you cards to more elaborate gifts. Heidi VanDerVoorn, conference planner and National Account Manager for Conference Direct, encourages giving regional gifts related to the business or location. Having organized an annual software conference for nearly a decade in Oregon, she favors sending gift baskets from local supplier Made in Oregon.  She recommends sending gifts to clients before they have their “big day.” “It lets them know that they are appreciated and that we are thinking of them.”

Michael Quonce, Public Relations & Advertising Manager for The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center and The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, concurs. “While not every conference, event or meeting will give amenities, it's always a gracious welcome to send…a gift.”

Speakers' amenities from The Hotel Roanoke The Hotel Roanoke offers a guest room "Amenities" book featuring 15 packages and a widely popular customizable option with items that range from plush Steiff Teddy Bears, chocolates, gourmet lollipops, snacks, and wine, to books, commemorative spoons/mugs/ornaments, Hokie paraphernalia, complimentary movies and games. Michael notes a recent increase in bookings for in-room spa services that can include facials and massages.

The Inn at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg offers six pre-packaged amenity items as well as custom-made packages. The three top sellers include:

  • The Around Towner, a snack arrangement with keepsake coffee mug and hotel sparkling water, sparkling apple cider, and red or white Virginia Tech labeled wine.
  • All About Virginia, a collection of snacks and drinks produced in Virginia delivered in a basket shaped like the state of Virginia.
  • The popular Go Hokies! Package designed for the sports enthusiast. It includes snacks, plus two souvenir pompoms, two Virginia Tech beverage tumblers and a 10-inch round metal beverage tub.

Having been both a weary traveler and a nervous conference speaker, finding truffles and liqueur along with a note from the association director waiting for me in my room was an uplifting surprise which, of course, now makes it my turn to say thank you.


Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0. You're invited to follow her on Twitter at @zkellyq.

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