We often equate VIP events with the doling out of goods: dinners at a fancy restaurant, front-and-center seats at a baseball game, a VIP lounge at a conference.
If you're hosting a VIP event, there's a good chance it will come with a heftier price tag. But to make that price tag worth it, you have to put time and energy into creating value that can't be tied back to the number of dollars you're forking over. Take these hypothetical events as examples:
Hypothetical Event #1: Your guests like the event
Let's say you're renting out an entire restaurant to host a dinner for 40 high-value prospects and customers. The restaurant is fancy and staffs its own sommelier—so the restaurant itself is compelling enough to entice your guests.
You send out invitations—free dinner and drinks at a private gathering. Delicious food. A room full of industry peers. You hit your registration goal and spend the rest of your time making sure event logistics are spot on.
The event comes, everything goes smoothly, and your guests really like the event. Great!
Except you want them to like more than the event. You want them to like you and your company.
Hypothetical Event #2: Your guests like the event and like you
Imagine the same setup, except this time you also do something extra—you treat your guests better than they expect to be treated, even though you're already treating them to a nice dinner with smart people.
What does that look like? It could be a lot of things, but Event Farm is an event tech company—so we like to use technology to anticipate and cater to what our guests need and want. Here's an example of what that might look like for your VIP dinner:
- When guests RSVP on your event website, you'll ask them the standard questions: Name, email, etc. But you'll also ask about their drink preference from a menu of cocktails.
- When each guest arrives, you'll activate an NFC-powered wristband that knows each guest's drink preference.
- As guests make their way to the bar, they'll scan their wristband at EFx Smart Bar, a kiosk that takes orders and queues them for bartenders. Smart Bar will verify that the guest still prefers the drink they selected during registration, and the order will be sent to the bartender.
Smart Bar adds a touch that exceeds your guests' expectations. It's personalized and streamlined, and your guests know you set it up—it's not something the restaurant did for you. The end result is that your guests like the event and like you.
Sweet. A step up from Event #1. But if you want your event to lead to more business for your company, your guests have to like you and understand the value of your product or service.
Hypothetical Event #3: Your guests like the event, like you, and understand your company's value
Imagine the same set up as Event #2. You're hosting a nice event, taking care of the logistics, and exceeding your guests' expectations.
But for this event, you're going to add one more layer: Your guests have to know why they're at your company's event. They have to understand the value of your product or service.
Now, you're probably thinking, this is a lot. I hear you—just taking care of event logistics is a lot, and I'm skimming right by logistics. But your guests' attention is valuable. People might end up on your website by accident, but they're not walking into your VIP event by mistake. A VIP event is full of the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Making the most of that does require a lot.
Your guests' attention is valuable. People might end up on your website by accident, but they're not walking into your VIP event by mistake. A VIP event is full of the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
So how do you do it?
The specifics will be different depending on the goal of your event and the product/service your company offers. In general, though, you can think about it as preparing the humans.
Preparing the logistics doesn't pay off if you don't also prepare the people who are coming. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, encourage attendees to engage with the narrative your event will tell—this is where you start incorporating value that goes beyond the dollar amount you're spending.
For something like a VIP dinner, you might invite guests who hold similar roles at different companies. They'll probably get a lot out of talking to each other, which means you might want to set up attendee groups and introduce group members to each other before the event begins. You might also send articles relevant to your event and ask attendees to discuss the article's ideas once they're in person.
Whatever conversation you facilitate and however you do it, help each guest think through the problem they have that you might be able to help them solve. If you're able to weave that into an experience that exceeds expectations, you'll set up guests to like you and understand the value your company provides—which makes the energy and price tag worth it.