Can You Share Too Much Information With Event Guests?

Can you put too much information on a guest itinerary? The short answer: No. Knowing what to expect is key in building attendee anticipation. We have some serious experience doing this, so we’ve laid out our recommendations for what and how much to tell attendees before an event.

In our case, this information lives in a cloud-based itinerary, so it’s available ahead of time and is always up to date. Even if you’re not working with dynamic itineraries, these tips apply to any pre-event communication you send out.

More is Better

As Event Professionals, we can all relate to being a little Type A. It’s what makes us thorough, knowledgeable, and dependable. We can relate to the need to know as much information as we can about an upcoming party or trip. While not every attendee you’ll encounter will be as Type A as you, people are now accustomed to having tons of information at their fingertips that will help them pack, prepare, and get excited for an event. When you provide less than what attendees are used to, it’s actually a point of frustration. This is why we abide by the “more is better” rule of thumb. Every description is an opportunity to engage and excite.

Types of Details

So we can agree that more information is key – but where do you start? What kind of information should you include?

Common Courtesies: don’t underestimate the power of speaking to your guest as though they are, in fact, a person. It’s easier to just list out details, but simply starting with a “Please join us for” or “We’re looking forward to seeing you at…” goes a long way in making the experience feel personalized.

What to Wear: it’s not news that people agonize over what to wear to an event they care about. Any direction you can provide as to the formality, location (indoor/outdoor), or forecasted weather of an event will be appreciated. If your event warrants it, this is even great content to share leading up to the event in a “What to Wear” blog post or social series. Feature photos from last years’ attendees or inspiration from influencers.

What to Bring: what’s worse than showing up somewhere and realizing you needed a photo ID (which is now inconveniently in your hotel room and you’re carless)? Or bringing an umbrella you can’t take into a concert? Or not using a venue-approved bag for your belongings? The list goes on. A description or list of items to bring (or not bring) is extremely useful and avoids attendee frustration.

What Will There Be to Eat/Drink? Should attendees eat ahead of time or will food be provided? If it is provided, how heavy is the meal and are there options for those with dietary restrictions? Is there a cash bar or are drinks complimentary? Hungry, sober guests aren’t high on anyone’s list of event outcomes, so help them prepare for the situation.

Brand Messaging: use event descriptions as an opportunity to reinforce your messaging. Give them some history, reinforce your tagline, and share facts and statistics about why your event is the best event. This is also a great place to introduce attendees to a campaign or hashtag you wish to use during the event. The more they are exposed to it in a relevant place, the more likely they are to recall it when it’s time to use it.

Good luck on your next event and happy writing!

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The Vegas VIP Experience

What Can Event Planners Learn from Las Vegas VIPs?

Las Vegas invented the VIP experience, and they continue to redefine what it means to be indulged. Whether you want playlist control and a front row fountain seat at Hyde Bellagio (for a cool $250,000, with drinks delivered by the Super Mario Brothers) or a Villa at Caesar’s Palace that boasts self-playing pianos, private celebrity chefs, and remote-controlled toilets, Vegas has you covered.

As a company that champions remarkable experiences, we know there’s a lot to be learned from the way Vegas treats its guests. It’s the perfect place to find inspiration if you’re looking for ways to step up your guest experience game. We’ve pulled together some Sin City tricks of the trade that could work for any event to get you started.

Personalize Everything

It’s the same concept that makes you feel welcome in the home of a great hostess. A guest should feel they’ve been thought of ahead of time and that their presence is an important one. After all, few things make you feel more important than when little details were clearly designed with you in mind: your favorite music is playing when you check into your hotel room instead of stock smooth jazz; when you arrive at the theater, you are greeted by name and led to your seat with a smile; your massage chair relaxes you to the rhythm of whatever song you’re listening to (this is, of course, an actual thing in Vegas). Anything you can do to include someone’s name or personal preferences into their experience goes a long way in making them feel like a guest – not a number. This can be accomplished in communications, greeting during events, and in the way you prepare materials and spaces ahead of time.

Don’t Underestimate Exclusivity

We all love a little something extra, don’t we? A complimentary upgrade we didn’t expect, a personal tasting of a new dish the chef is trying out, or early access to, well, anything. It’s a little like winning the experience lottery because you always expect what you planned and paid for, but the extras are the most exciting. Even if those exclusive pieces are paid for, that is what sets their experience apart from everyone else’s. Try adding in tiers to your event, so guests can choose to upgrade their own experience if they have the budget. You can also plan ahead for upgrades, extras, or surprises that you present to VIPs, influencers, or other guests for free – this way, you’ve budgeted for it and they still get the surprise of a complimentary perk!

Always Deliver – Or, Better Yet, Overdeliver

Here’s the scenario: Your high-profile guest is all set for the trip of a lifetime; their expectations are high, and your team is all prepared to exceed those expectations, but in hospitality, you have to expect that things will go wrong. Planes may be delayed, rooms aren’t always ready on time, or rain ruins plans for a rooftop event. It’s how you respond that defines your guest’s experience, and this is where many fall short. When you’re dealing with VIPs, you should take every opportunity to make up for inconveniences and disappointments, even when they weren’t your fault.

Don’t just correct the mistake – take the opportunity to go above and beyond for their trouble to leave a lasting impression of quality. Sometimes it’s going to cost more, but Vegas hospitality icons know that the small extra cost is well worth the customer satisfaction and loyalty. If a guest’s room isn’t ready, provide them with complimentary champagne while they wait. If the VIP table they reserved got moved around, comp their meal and invite them back.

The Las Vegas commitment to VIPs provides endless inspiration. If you want to see how executing on that commitment becomes easier with, visit our software page. And, of course, a little reconnaissance trip never hurt, right?

Managing the iHeartRadio Guest Experience: The Client

Welcome to Part II of our iHeartRadio guest experience series. This time, we sat down with iHeartRadio’s Christine Flipse, Senior Manager of National Entertainment, to get some insight into her experience working her way through the company, coordinating national events, and working with Lady Gaga.

Q: Give us some background about your role and how you started with the company.

I’ve been with the company for 9.5 years, since before it became iHeartMedia, back when it was still Clear Channel Radio. I started as a promotions assistant at Z100, then worked for all five New York radio stations at the time. In 2011, after our first iHeartRadio Music Festival, I started working for Darren Pfeffer [SVP, Music & Entertainment], became a coordinator, manager, and now a senior manager. Our team produces all of the national events for iHeartRadio such as the iHeartRadio Music FestivaliHeartCountry FestivaliHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, as well as all the B2B and internal events for iHeartMedia, such as activations at the Cannes Lions Festival and SXSW, and a lot of other events. I produce all the events in the iHeartRadio Theater in TriBeCa, as well as manage travel and fulfillment for all of our major events.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about the job?

I love watching our events come to life. Working on this team and knowing how much work goes into each event, being an integral part of pulling off something like the iHeartRadio Music Festival is huge. I love seeing everyone work together to make our events a success.

Q: What, to you, defines a successful event?

There are always going to be challenges and bumps in the road leading up to an event, but if everyone walks away from it at the end and feels like it was a great experience, then that’s a successful event. Whether you’re in the audience or the artist on stage or the executive producer or a stage hand, no matter who you are, if you walk away feeling like “that was great”, then you have a successful event.

Q: I’m sure you meet a lot of big names through your job – who has been your favorite? 

I think Paul McCartney because, come on, he’s Paul McCartney! I’m a huge fan of Lady Gaga and working with her is incredible because she is so involved with the creative aspect of her performances. It’s amazing to see how involved she is during rehearsal – you’ll see her tweak the angle of the piano herself until it’s perfect, that’s how invested she is. One of the most exciting moments for me was when we had the Foo Fighters at the iHeartRadio Theater in LA. I was able to watch Taylor Hawkins as he was listening to his drum track from soundcheck, correcting things in his mind, and making sure he sounded the way he wanted to. You don’t think of someone that big doing that. It’s great realizing that these people are people just like you and me, and they need to practice and prepare. They don’t just get up there and do it; there’s a lot of hard work on their end.

Q: What’s the best thing you could hear from a guest about one of your events?

We hold contests for our events for people to win a trip there, and a lot of our winners are people who have never been on a plane before, and they otherwise wouldn’t have that type of experience. So when they come back to us and say “You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget”, that’s so special to me. To give that type of experience to someone who wouldn’t otherwise have it is the greatest.

Q: How do you and your team cope with the stress of an event?

We are really in it together; our team is very much like a family. We pick each other up when we’re down and we celebrate each other’s successes. This is not a standard nine-to-five desk job where you come in , do your work, and leave. We eat more meals together with our coworkers than our families some weeks. Being there for each other and having each other’s back helps us get through it. We also often work out together, whether it’s a run or a SoulCycle class, to help us clear our minds and not just talk about work 24/7.

Communication is also key. There are so many different aspects that need to come together properly in order for the event to be a success, and there is a lot of overlap between teams – the sponsorships being incorporated into the backstage areas or party spaces, the number of credentials lining up with the number of tickets, the stage call times working with the backstage artist “move times” – everyone needs to be on the same page.

Q: What is one of the most rewarding moments of your job?

My favorite part of an event is to go out into the house and stand in the arena and just look out while everyone is having an amazing time, knowing that I helped get them there. I try to make it a point at every iHeartRadio Jingle Ball stop to go out and do just that. The iHeartRadio Jingle Ball is a 12-city concert tour every December. It’s one of our busiest times of the year so taking a moment to be reminded of why we’re doing what we’re doing gives you energy to get through it.

Q: Speaking of people having an amazing time, you’ve seen so many live shows. Which artists have the most excited crowds?

The Backstreet Boys were huge. They make full grown women act like tweens again. Like professional, marketing geniuses become children again. I mean, of course, Bieber comes on stage and gets an amazing response, the girls go crazy, but seeing the adults react like that is the best.

Q: What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow your career path?

Work hard. Really hard. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, to start low and work your way up. If you have the motivation and the drive and love for what you’re doing, it’ll show. When I started as a promotions assistant, it wasn’t even in my mind that I’d end up here. iHeartRadio wasn’t even a thing yet, and I’ve been part of the whole ride and I’ve seen it through, and now I’m a member of this great team. Take any opportunity and make it everything you can. Work hard from wherever you are and be passionate. Those are the most important things. Everything else can be learned.

When to Text or Email Guests During an Event

Picture this. The stunning outdoor event you’ve been slaving over for months is about to be rained out and moved to your backup location indoors.

The issue? Your event guests are spread all over the city right now and you need to let them know ASAP. Luckily, we live in a modern event planning world with instant communication at our fingertips. It’s why lets you text or email your guests through the system however and whenever you need to. Although, just because you CAN communicate with your guests at any time doesn’t always mean you SHOULD. Read on to learn how and when to text or email guests during an event, and when not to.

Instant Text and Email Best Practices

The ever-presence of mobile devices really allows us to make every guest feel connected and cared for leading up to and during an event. When done respectfully and sparingly, instant communication to event guests can reduce anxiety and promote trust.

Changes: Anytime there is a change to guests’ itineraries, it helps to get in touch with them as quickly as possible so they aren’t left feeling lost. Use this any time you have a venue, time, or speaker change. Additionally, if you’re aware of traffic or transportation concerns (like an accident on the highway), a heads up to guests is always appreciated. Be as brief as possible while conveying all of the change information.

Select Reminders: Especially if you have guests traveling to your event, it can be helpful to remind them about presentation or event start times, where they can find catering or meals during a break, or if there are any delays.

A recent firsthand example of this: a client of ours was hosting a party during a sporting event weekend – at said party, our client was broadcasting the game, but attendance was strangely low. They realized their guests didn’t know that the day’s game was being broadcast at the party and, instead, the guests were at bars or hotels watching it. They used that opportunity to text guests reminding them that the game was being shown at their party, and the guests showed up in droves. Big win.

Follow-Ups: Few things are more helpful than leaving a great presentation with follow-up materials, resources, and links sitting expectantly in your inbox. Creating a seamless guest experience means staying top of mind for guests and meeting needs before they are even realized.

When Not to Use Text and Email

Now that you’ve seen ways immediate, personal communication can be done well, let’s look at ways it can damage a relationship so you can actively avoid them at all costs. Guests can spot fake and manipulative communication from a mile away, and it instantly leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Let’s not.

Every Little Thing: Sure, you’d love to be there at every turn to welcome your guest to their hotel, presentation room, or afterparty, but doing it via text or email for every little thing is going to get old fast. Instant notifications are meant to be attention-grabbing in order to share important information – once a guest receives them too frequently, they tune them out and might miss the actual important info.

Third Party Information: This is not the place for third party advertising or sponsor messages. It is self-serving and not useful to your guests, so it is seen as a nuisance. Advertising is best left for event web pages, print and digital materials, and perhaps as part of useful post-event offers.

Polls and Questionnaires: Be wary of sending out polls during your event. Yes, it’s nice to get feedback when the content or event is still fresh on guests’ minds, but this also falls into the category of unnecessary communication during an event. If the poll is going to inform the schedule of events or itinerary, then it may make more sense. In that case, keep it short, sweet, and on topic. Otherwise, plan to send out any surveys at one time after the event has ended so attendees can answer at their convenience.