Six Ways to Improve a VIP Event

18 Jul 2016

Who doesn’t have a favorite musician or group? If you are like many people, you’ve probably downloaded their songs, purchased their CD’s, watched them perform on TV and maybe even attended a live concert.

The most die-hard of fans pay a premium to purchase a “VIP” package for a concert . This provides an opportunity to not only score great seats, but also to get a behind the scenes look through perks including a “meet and greet” with the artist, attending a sound check or getting branded promotional items and wearables as gifts.

My two most recent VIP experiences with musicians/bands that perform in medium–sized venues (those that seat 2,500 – 5,000 people) indicate that there is room for improvement and many things that the band or their event management agencies could easily and affordably institute to vastly improve the customer experience at a beloved band or artist’s VIP event.

Full disclosure: I am both a music fan and a marketer. As a music fan, I’ve attended many concerts and VIP events; as a marketer, I’ve hosted many different types of events.

Here are six ways to make a VIP music event better for the attendee:

  1. Set expectations for the attendees ahead of time. Remind people of the agenda, process, do’s and don’ts, etc. at the event. At a recent VIP sound check in New York City, everyone was taking pictures and shooting mobile phone videos. Abruptly, the event manager told the group that we all had to leave because the sound check was officially over instead of explaining that the band was about to play some new material and they didn’t want it to be recorded or shared with others until they had a chance to practice it more before the concert later that night. It would be helpful to offer a printed hand-out when we walked in the door or provide a banner stand in the venue lobby to tell us what was happening and what to expect at the sound check.
  2.  Have the person speaking or interviewing the artist use a microphone. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate A/V set up; it could be a simple portable microphone that can be purchased on Amazon for $100. We listened intently to hear a shy, soft-spoken artist tell stories without amplification with 200 people gathered around him in a Las Vegas hotel ballroom. Unless you were lucky enough to be standings in the first two rows, you missed hearing about the artist from the artist, which is one of the reasons that VIP packages are attractive. The event team could have also filmed the artist in front of a branded portable backdrop. Or they could have simply created a podcast out of the recording and posted it on the artist’s website and social media accounts to get others interested in attending a future VIP event or learning more about the artist.
  3. Create a mobile app. Or if that is time/cost-prohibitive, produce a VIP SMS (Short Message Service) text campaign pre, during and post event. The goal is to have an ongoing way to push messages to attendees, whether that is to advise of a scheduling change, provide an event reminder or share something to get them excited about participating in an upcoming event.
  4. If you promise food, provide it. One VIP event that was held from 5pm -7pm had only small bowls of tortilla chips and store-bought hot sauce on a few of the standing cocktail tables. Another VIP event promoted an open bar and full dinner buffet but once we arrived, there were only enough tables to seat about 20 percent of the attendees. Most people (including us) left and paid to have dinner somewhere else on a busy Saturday night right before the concert (even though we had paid for dinner as part of the VIP package and didn’t have a reservation anywhere in town).
  5. If you provide branded promotional products or wearables , choose quality over quantity and have a rationale for the items selected. What are great gifts? A printed poster that is signed by the band and given to you rolled in a tube for easy transport. T-shirts imprinted with something to remind you of the event in sizes large enough for an average size adult to comfortably wear, made from heavy weight cotton. Plastic VIP badge holders on lanyards that provide a place for your ticket so that it is visible during the event. Logoed baseball caps are useful if the event is outside.
  6. Lastly, thank attendees after the event. It could be something as simple as texting or emailing a link to a recorded message from one of the artists or mailing a letter to each VIP attendee’s home address saying “thanks for being our fan” with a picture from the event night. The key is to keep the event top of mind for the attendee so that he or she remembers it fondly and tells others how great it was and how they can’t wait to go to another one again.

Having effective communication pre, during and after an event can help ensure that expectations are met. Whether that communication is in person, in writing or through visual graphics such as message on banners, floor graphics, digital signage or SMS text campaigns, making communication a priority will greatly improve the customer (in this case, the VIP attendee’s) experience. Music makes the world a more interesting place and attending a VIP event gives you inside exposure to the artists that make it all happen.