Organizing a Pop-up Event: 4 Keys to Success

Pop-up events have been around for some time, especially in the retail sector and recently pop-ups have become increasingly popular among restaurants and art galleries. Pop-up events are very popular in the UK and interest is spreading to North America.

More and more, corporate event and meeting planners are using pop-up events for meetings, product launches, and even hybrid events. When they are well executed, pop-up events can create excitement and have a high impact in a short time period.

What are pop-up events?

Pop-up events are temporary, unexpected events in unique spaces. They pop up and, after a few hours or days, they pop down. By definition, most events are temporary. It is the element of surprise in unexpected locations that distinguish pop-up events.

Pop-up events can be:

  • Face-to-face
  • Virtual 
  • Hybrid 

In this post, we’ll explore the keys to a successful pop-up event:

  1. The Right Venue
  2. Smooth Logistics
  3. Event Technology
  4. Strong Marketing to Create Buzz

In fact, the right venue, decor, event technology, and the element of surprise can create excitement for any product category. Here’s an example from an airline.

Pop-up Events Venue Selection

Pop-up events can take place in temporary venues like event domes, igloos, and marquees or permanent structures like retail spaces and resorts. To surprise employees, companies can set them up on-site overnight in the parking lot, corporate green spaces or even the lobby.

Temporary pop-up event venues are a perfect fit for guerrilla marketing events as they generate a lot of buzz by seemingly appearing out of nowhere. Temporary event venues do create special challenges; decor, electrical outlets, sound, lighting, AV, WiFi, and bandwidth must all be brought in. With a little imagination, it doesn’t take much to create a temporary event structure.

At one time, hotels were concerned that pop-up events might compete with their offerings. Yet more and more properties are coming to the realization that pop-up events do not necessarily need to take place in a pop-up venue. They can take place on hotel property or in a function room. The advantage is that all infrastructure is already in place.

Pop-up Events: Logistics

Even though pop-up events may seem impromptu, they require a lot of planning and attention to detail for successful execution.

UK- based Sventa, known for exciting pop-up Christmas event venues and on the beach summer pop-ups, created The Cool Conference  for a client.  This example shows the importance of going through and identifying the technology required to ensure smooth event operations.

Pop-up Events:  Event Technology

Technology like iPad kiosks, video walls, touch screens, and digital signage can deliver great impact at pop-up events.

  • Technology for Creating the Right Ambiance:  The right ambiance is part of what attract people to pop-up events, brand activations, and 3D projection mapping can go a long way to creating the right ambiance. Fortunately, technology has made 3D projection mapping more affordable and accessible.
  • Engaging Participants Through AV: Whenever possible, AV should be compact and move beyond mundane projectors and screens. 360° degree screens, wireless presentation systems like Montage, and interactive screens are effective approaches for capturing the attention of participants. Here are a couple of examples.
  • Wifi Connectivity and Bandwidth: Enough bandwidth to support all exhibitors, AV and presentation technology is a must for pop-up events. Participants also expect free WiFi hotspots.
  • Temperature and Guest Comfort: During the winter and on cooler days in the fall and spring, keeping guests warm can be a challenge. Portable glass enclosed fireplaces with realistic flames are on the horizon. They are currently available Europe and the UK such as the Sunwood Marino.
  • Food and Beverage Service:  For pop-up events, keeping the environment clean and hygienic, and ensuring that food and beverages are served at the optimal temperature is essential for the safety of all guests. Dometic as well as Evaptainers have developed new, low tech approaches to keep food cool at remote locations.  Here is how one agency approached these challenges.
  • Cashless Payment Systems:  Cashless payment technology handles payments quickly and ensures accuracy. There is a wide range of mobile apps available such as Fastbar which replaced expensive and problematic POS systems with plastic wristbands.
  • Videography: Recording pop-up events and posting them on YouTube is one way to extend the longevity of the events. More tools are coming onto the market to make this easier.

Marketing of Pop-up Events

The key to pop up event success is to build enough excitement to attract as many participants as possible within a brief time frame. Social media is going to be your best friend here. One way to drive curiosity and excitement with your audience is to post fun teaser photos and mysterious captions.

Even if you want to surprise the intended participants, “save the date” notices on all social channels with a countdown to your event date can build some anticipation around your big announcement.

For one of my clients, we used pop-up events for their Apprentice inspired team building project. Save- the-date notices were sent out on through the radio, social media, and newspapers. One team leveraged the radio and had many people pop-in after work indicating they had been listening to the broadcasts all day.

What’s Next?

  • Learn how Live Display goes beyond social walls to help you capture sponsor ROI and keep attendees informed on-the-go
  • What makes a marketing event successful? Read this post for a checklist of our Corporate Design Essentials.
  • Thinking about redesigning your sponsorship model to include event technology? Download our template.