If you’re looking to host your first live event after lockdown, have you considered organising a pop-up?

Pop-up events are a great way to ease back into things. They tend to be on a smaller scale, which works well with restrictions surrounding attendee numbers. Delighting guests by quite literally popping up for a few days before disappearing, these fleeting events give creators the chance to get creative, too. You can experiment with different types of venues and spaces – both indoors and outdoors – to see what works best. From temporary bars exploring the latest drinks trends to obstacle courses and dating experiences, there are lots of pop-up event examples to explore.

But what makes a pop-up successful in a post-lockdown world? From creating excitement around it to finding the right space, here’s how to plan a pop-up event in the current climate.

Plan an event timeline

It’s not all about generating buzz – good organisation sets successful pop-up events apart from the pack. Putting together an event timeline will help you work out what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by, and who needs to do it. Remember that with changing government restrictions, your timeline may be shorter than before.

Set a budget

Pop-up events are exciting by nature, so it’s easy to get carried away with plans for catering and venue hire. While ideas are limitless, your budget most likely isn’t. Setting a budget will help keep you on track – and can even make the planning process easier. Plus, it will help you decide how much to charge for entry, food, drinks, and merchandise.

Your budget will be determined by the type of event you’re planning. For instance, if it’s a pop-up store event, the entry might be free but you’ll want to cover your overheads in sales. Think about setting a ticket price that pays for the likes of equipment, infrastructure, and staff, then charge for extras such as refreshments. From materials to drinks, this painting and Prosecco pop-up gives a good outline of the things that a ticket price could cover.

Organise your payment process

If your pop-up event includes sales, it’s wise to have a payment process in place. Going cash-only will limit the amount you’re able to sell, as guests can only carry so much. But card payments can boost profits and attendees’ overall experience. And if you set up a contactless system, you’ll minimise interaction between staff and guests – a vital part of helping to reduce COVID-19 transmission. To limit attendee capacity and avoid queues on the day, you might also want to consider selling tickets to your pop-up event online through Eventbrite.

Remain on the right side of the law

You’ll need to apply for a temporary events notice (TEN) if you’re hosting an event in an unlicensed space. This is particularly important for creators looking to host pop-up bars and the like. If you want it to take place in your local pub, you’ll be fine. But if it’s in a church hall instead, it might not be covered. A TEN will cover you for things like selling alcohol, providing entertainment, and serving hot food for up to 10 days. You can apply for up to five notices per year and, if you already have a personal licence to sell alcohol, you can be given up to 50 TENs a year. Remember to check up-to-date guidelines for all the relevant event licences that you may need.

Do a risk assessment

It’s crucial that you conduct a risk assessment when planning any event, including a pop-up. It’s a simple way to determine what risks are likely to be present at your event and how to mitigate them. In the current climate, there are a number of health and safety measures that you’ll want to have in place, such as social distancing signage, sanitiser stations, and regular cleaning. Training event staff in general health and safety, as well as how to minimise COVID-19 transmission, is also vital.

Double check your space

As well as checking licences, you should also comb through what your rental cost covers. Everything should be plain to see in your rental contract, so if it seems like something’s missing, query it. For example, don’t assume you’ll have access to your venue’s sound system – they might require you to bring your own.

In post-lockdown times, it’s crucial that your space complies with COVID-19 measures, too:

  • Does the venue size suit the number of attendees that will turn up?
  • Is there enough room for social distancing and a one-way system?
  • Is there a separate entrance and exit?

Take inspiration from this pop-up vintage flea market that’s operating timed slots to manage capacity.

Build up some buzz

Once you’ve figured out how to organise a pop-up event, it’s time to find the answer to another important question: What do you need to do to promote your pop-up event and get people talking about it? Having instantly recognisable branding will help, so budget in some time with a graphic designer. Plaster this branding across your social media channels to engage with influencers and host countdowns to the day. At the same time, you can keep attendees informed of measures you’re taking to help keep them safe at the event.

On-street marketing is important, too – for example, pop-up cinema advertising might include posters, billboards, a pop-up event stand, and pavement board outside the event. Whether you’re planning corporate pop-up events or a one-off foodie experience, take a look at this handy toolkit for reaching the right audience and increasing your sales.

Have a back-up plan

Over the past year, the importance of a contingency plan has come to the forefront. But it’s not just a pandemic that can cause plans to change at the last minute – bad weather and travel disruptions can also be problematic. To avoid on-the-day panics, have a clear-cut back-up plan in place. This could involve having an alternative venue lined up or a livestream platform ready to take your pop-up event online.

A step in the right direction

No matter what kind of event you choose, whether it’s pop-up food events or film screenings, you’ll want the big day (or week) to run smoothly. There may still be some uncertainty in the events industry, but, with an organised approach and smart promotion, pop-ups are one way to start testing the event hosting waters. Find out how we can help to create a bigger platform for your event.

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