The ephemeral nature of pop-up events often lures big numbers and big expectations. In this edition we quiz three experts on what it takes to make a pop-up event a lasting success.
Compiled by Lauren Arena
- Choose your location wisely: As the name would suggest, a pop-up event is about surprising people by popping up in an interesting and sometimes unsuspecting location. Invest the time in finding a location that will intrigue your guests like revitalising a rundown city space such as a laneway or abandoned shop. Be mindful of council permits and restrictions. I recommend considering a privately owned space to avoid some red tape.
- Offer something exclusive or bespoke: Successful pop-up events offer guests an exclusive and/or bespoke experience. By the very nature of a pop-up, it’s for a limited time but think about extending the exclusivity by giving them something to take home that can’t easily be obtained elsewhere. This might be a special deal, discount or gift.
- Create an atmosphere: Get creative with your event theming to create a feeling and atmosphere that will leave guests raving to their friends and family. You can’t underestimate the level of ambiance the right music, lighting and even smells make to an event.
- Give them something to tweet about: An invite or access to a pop-up event has great bragging rights on social media. Consider in your planning phase what content opportunities there are for guests to share with their networks. Can you check-in at the event on Facebook? Is there a branded photo wall? Consider working with a company like Polite in Public who will snap photos of your guests allowing them to upload and share them instantly.
- Extend the experience beyond the pop-up event itself: Start the intrigue of the event the moment you invite guests. For instance, you could send them an anonymous or slightly ambiguous invite or tell guests about the event via Twitter. This idea works well for delegates you are looking to invite to a pop-up event during a multi-day conference or industry event.
- Permits – Make contact with the local council to ensure you have the necessary permits. You’ll find that each council has different policies, permit requirements and fee structures attached to pop-up events in public spaces. Avoid any potential issues arising on the day by getting all the relevant paperwork covered.
- Preparation – The obvious one! Yet with the temporary and somewhat spontaneous nature of pop-up events, preparation is key. No matter how much or how little time you have for planning, create a time plan and stick to it. Prepare for the unexpected with a run through of possible worst-case scenarios.
- Price – Don’t be fooled by the fleeting nature of pop-up events – budgets can just as quickly be blown as you try to turn a space with potential into a space that packs a punch. If it’s a ticketed event, ensure you stick to a tight production budget, and allow for contingencies. Include everything, no matter how small it may be, as little things add up and will blow the roof off your budget.
- Plan B – Many pop-up events take place in rather challenging spaces, like the great outdoors, in warehouses and in lane ways. Ensure you have a plan B for wet weather if it’s an outdoor space, a generator if you’re in a warehouse and sufficient security for events such as lane way parties.
- People – Having enough people allocated to your event is pivotal when planning a pop-up event. In unfamiliar settings, a few extra hands will never go amiss. Allocate tasks accordingly and don’t overload people with too many duties. Ensure people are briefed and a run through of the event takes place with all team members present. Many pop-ups are one night only so there is no dress rehearsal.
- Location – This is critical to a pop-up – it should be quirky, fun, a little out of the ordinary or otherwise a “must see” venue. We have used brand new office space, a fashion house’s spare room, The Spiegeltent (a very pop-up venue) and then the newly reopened and very impressive Brisbane City Hall.
- Short & sweet – Think about the traditional length of the event you are running and then think about shortening it. Brisbane Pop-Up by another name is a trade show, however instead of it running for a full day or two, it only runs for two hours.
- Incentives – Give people an incentive to attend by unveiling a new product or offering a sneak preview of an upcoming announcement. At Brisbane Pop-Up 2013, we used “cannons” for our prize draw because we wanted to turn the traditional prize draw on its head.
- Word of mouth – Create an aura around your event and it will be even more successful. We’ve created a reputation for Brisbane Pop-Up which means that we have people requesting invitations, due to word of mouth.
- Feedback – Pop-up events give you a captive audience that’s all in the one place, so use this to get feedback from your clients. This year we got guests to fill out the survey onsite and this resulted in a 550 per cent increase in the response rate. This is valuable information you can use to improve your business.