I’ve talked in the past about how much I love the many Sweet Suite events that I’ve attended throughout the years while traveling for conferences. So, I was one of the first to sign up last year when they launched Sweet Suite at Home for 2020. And, if you remember my post last year, it was an amazingly good time.
We’re talking all of my kids’ favorite brands: Nintendo, Playmobil, Schleich, Schilling, Mattel, Calico Critters. It was as if my childhood toys all got together and designed a show just for me and my family.
This year, though, I let me kids attend some of the Sweet Suite at Home meetings with me. They were bummed last year that they missed all the Sweet Suite fun, so I was thrilled when they could participate with me this year. That turned out to be a very good choice, because it’s easier for brands to see how passionate you are about a brand when your kiddos are giving them a personalized tour of all their toys we own and love.
What is Sweet Suite?
Sweet Suite is the biggest toy party and it’s hosted by The Toy Insider each year. The event is attended by the biggest names in play and covered by press and influencers all over the world. In the past, I have connected with some of my very favorite brands at their events, and this year’s Sweet Suite @ Home was no different.
On July 14 this year, instead of being a stand alone event in a major North American city, Sweet Suite took place in living rooms all around the world. Sweet Suite @ Home brought all the fun and excitement of Sweet Suite, without the need to travel or even leave your home.
If you’re picturing a trade show, you’ve got the wrong idea. Sweet Suite isn’t a stuffy showroom, it’s absolutely a party. The Toy Insider team of play experts presented toy trend roundups, live Q&A sessions, real-time giveaways, and other fun activities that made it even more fun. Want to see all the fun? Check out @thetoyinsider on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook or check out the hashtag #sweetsuiteathome
A new virtual experience, take 2
Sweet Suite @ Home was the full Sweet Suite experience, including the ability to explore the show floor, walk up to sponsors’ booths, and engage in live face-to-face toy demos via video chat. We had the ability to chat with more than 75 toy companies and get inspired for holiday gift guides, future toy reviews, and more.
I bet you’re still wondering how fun a virtual show could be, and I’ll admit I was right there with you until last year. I’ve experienced online events in the past, and they always feel forced and I somehow feel left out even though I’m right there in the “action”.
Sweet Suite was decidedly different. It was designed just like a trade show where you can walk the floor and visit booths, but because it was virtual, you “walked the show” via internet magic that is hard to describe to those who haven’t experienced it.
Plus, I was *encouraged* to wear PJs. Win, win, win.
You could send instant messages to representatives in each booth you were interested in and the reps would reply almost immediately. This made it easy to let them know what interested you the most and make the most of your experience. Even if you “left” the booth, you could still see all your messages from reps wherever you virtual walk took you next.
You could also click on interactive brochures and flyers in the booths to learn more about the brands being shown and all their newest arrivals. From there, you could hop into prescheduled Zoom meetings or join in on meetings in progress for booths that were mostly stop-in. While I only scheduled about a dozen Zooms, I still ended up at over 20 Zoom meetings just by hanging out in booths and talking with reps.
I also loved that I could even send emails right from in the booth to let the brands know what I’d like to follow up about after the show.
There was also a virtual press lounge where I could visit to grab press kits and other information about exhibitors. I didn’t spend a ton of time here during the show, but after hours I checked out all the releases that went live during the event. There were some really cool resources and I ended up really appreciating all the links and info as I was talking with companies after the show ended.