Through the years, we have covered a vast array of topics on our Event 360 Corp Blog, giving our followers the kind of advice that can lead to safer, more successful and efficient events that leave your participants happy.
In case you’ve missed any of that great content, we bring you our Throwback Thursday series, which you’ll see pop up in the weeks ahead.
We decided to dig deep into our vault and bring back some of our most popular posts over the years. Now let’s kick things off with a post by Patrick Riley, Event 360’s Vice President and Account Director. Read on as Patrick takes us through Creating a VIP Experience for clients and participants.
The VIP experience has become commonplace, with an expectation from customers and participants that it exists and is easy to attain. During everyday transactions, we’ve grown used to being rewarded for loyalty, value, and clout. Starbucks rewards you every 12 coffees, Uber rewards you for referring your friends, and airlines (some of the originators of VIP programs) let you into the express line.
Now that we’re accustomed to being treated as a VIP in many of our transactions, it raises the bar to create a true VIP experience. The most important considerations for anyone creating a VIP experience is determining the behavior you want to reward and the target audience for the behavior.
In the event world, we often reward our biggest fans (loyalty), our high rollers (value) and networks of fans/teams (clout). We recently created a VIP experience for our MuckFest® MS series of mud and obstacle fun runs in 10 cities around the country benefiting the National MS Society. For our VIP program we wanted to reward the behavior of fundraising and team size (registrations).
Here are five motivations for our program:
Decrease wait time and increase the activity time. VIP parking and express passes are the low hanging fruit of events. Take away the things that can detract from the overall experience, like parking or waiting in line. You want your VIPs to be focused on the activity of the event and walk away thinking, “That was awesome and I want to do it again next year.” Instead of the last memory being annoyed at how long it took to get out of the parking lot. Your best sales tool for getting your VIPs to return to your next event, and bring their friends and family, is to remove the obstacles not related to having fun.
Let your VIPs stand out from the crowd. Your VIPs want to feel acknowledged and recognized. There is a reason the backstage pass is a big credential people wear around their neck with pride. Give your VIPs something to wear that has others asking them, “How did you get that?” and they can boast of their accomplishments. We provide our MuckFest MS participants with a different colored race bib so everyone on the course knows they are valued.
Set up a VIP area. It’s fun for people to go behind the velvet rope. Set up a space for your VIPs to mix and mingle. Make sure that area is in the middle of the action. It never hurts to create a little envy and competition for future VIPs. We knew that teams wanted an area to gather as a community and earning a team tent was a great motivator for this important group of VIPs.
Ensure your VIP experience is seamless. While your VIPs are proud of what they have accomplished, they are also a humble bunch that care more about your organization than the rewards. Make sure they don’t have to ask for their reward. Instead set up operations so they are welcomed, thanked and rewarded the moment they arrive. For our program, we email VIP passes directly to our participants so we know who they are the moment they drive onto the site.
Create surprise — a new experience they weren’t expecting. This may be the most difficult one to create, as it needs to be directly related to your event and organization. For MuckFest MS we’ll provide VIPs with special soap or shampoo to wash off the muck and an express pass to the shower area. For your event it might be a face-to-face meeting with a person your VIPs admire, a commemorative t-shirt they weren’t expecting, or a bonus activity. Be creative, but more importantly make sure your VIPs walk away thinking “Wow. That was different.”
One last thought on creating the VIP experience is that all participants are VIPs. We certainly want to recognize those who go above and beyond, but not at the expense of the rest of our participants. Create a VIP experience, but also make sure you have trained your staff to be responsive to all of your participants so the VIP program can be seen as something to earn, not as something elite and detracting from the overall event and community experience.
Patrick Riley, Vice President, Account Director at Event 360, has more than 15 years of event experience, with a focus on developing great client relationships. He is practiced in all aspects of event operations – from marketing and advertising to planning and event execution. Patrick uses project management best practices to create amazing event experiences for participants, volunteers and our client partners.