Secret Events: How to plan a ... secret event

Planning a mystery event? Then you must tease your guests. Five experts share their tips with Katie Deighton.

Create a buzz...

Guests love a mystery, so drip-feeding them information as to what the event might entail builds excitement and sustains talk on social media. Agency Hot Pickle's creative director Rupert Pick says it's all about creating intrigue. "Offer up little clues that get your audience guessing. Start with tenuous ideas, and as the date approaches make them more logical," he says. "Toss in a red herring too by giving the audience an unrelated clue."

...but think through your strategy

Ben Murphy, account manager at Fuse International, believes the reveal is vital to the event's success. "There are several key elements to planning a secret event," he says. "Identify the main selling point, what has to be kept secret and what should be shouted about."

Clare Howlett, head of business development at Timebased Events, agrees: "An event is a series of moments and experiences. Think about which elements are secret, how they are revealed and what happens next."

Agency Greenspace's founder and chief executive Adrian Caddy points out that by carefully selecting who knows what, information can be leaked the way you want it to be. "Make sure you keep it a secret, but the moment the secret's out, everyone has to know about it," Caddy says. "Everyone loves being the first to hear about something and spread the word. Choosing the 'right' people to tell first is key."

Get guests talking

"The secret element is not enough," believes Anna Templeton, co-founder of experiential dining company Shuttlecock Inc. "You have to tell people a little about what is going to be there, to get them excited and talking."

And once guests have arrived, Caddy believes, there has to be dialogue between them and the organisers to make the experience stand out. "Events should always leave a legacy," he says. "Whether that's a new space to experience once the event has gone, content that was created and now lives digitally, or two-way engagement with the local community - these are positive qualities that make what was once secret an experience that lives on.

Howlett agrees: "Encourage interaction with your audience. The more they participate, the more engaged and immersed they have to be - all the time escaping, exploring and learning."

Do it right

As with any event, a poorly executed secret experience will live on in the memory for all the wrong reasons.

"Plan your event well," says Murphy. "It may be the best idea in the world, but if you can't deliver, all that potential good sentiment and buzz could be lost. So take the opportunity to deliver amazing experiences that will be talked about again and again."

THE EXPERTS

Adrian Caddy, Founder and chief executive Greenspace

Rupert Pick, Creative director Hot Pickle

Clare Howlett, Head of business development Timebased Events

Ben Murphy, Account manager Fuse International

Anna Templeton, Co-founder Shuttlecock Inc.


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