For much of the past couple of years, planning an in-person pop-up event has felt like an impossibility. But as things return to normal, Eventbrite’s Commercial Director for UK & Ireland, Sally Pigott, believes pop-ups hold plenty of potential. She shares tips for harnessing the idea-testing, fun-promoting and community-building opportunities it presents.  

Often organised around a specific theme or strong experiential element, and almost always involving real-life interactions, pop-ups were significantly impacted by Covid-related lockdowns and social distancing measures. However, as temporary events begin to return, here’s how they can benefit creators. 

Tap into people’s appetite for new experiences 

I really believe that change drives innovation and, as we emerge from the pandemic, now’s a great time to push the boundaries and offer something entirely different. When venues were forced to close and large gatherings were not allowed, many organisers embraced digital and hybrid events, and will continue to do so. However, pop-ups don’t tend to translate that well to an online setting, leaving many people hungry to attend something unusual or unique. Like indulging in a multi-sensory food experience and sampling sweet treats at the London Dessert Festival.

A pop-up that provides optimism and inspiration can be really engaging right now. Organisers should seek to create the kind of anticipation and excitement in the weeks before their event that will make people want to put their hand in their pocket and venture out of the house again. 

Ask your audience what they want 

It’s so important to talk to your community via social, email newsletters or in real life to find out the things they want to experience and what they feel comfortable with. Knowing what’s likely to sell tickets, and what you can do to welcome attendees back to in-person events, means you can tailor your pop-up to the people you want to attract. 

Treat a pop-up as a testing ground

A pop-up presents an opportunity to find out whether your event works. For example, is there an audience for your idea? Could your concept become a viable commercial endeavour? After all, it’s not uncommon for a pop-up to become permanent. But before spending time and money on launching a bricks-and-mortar or a more permanent event, pop-ups provide a lower-risk entry point into the event space and give creators the opportunity to see if it’s something they want to commit to long-term. 

Take advantage of the flexibility pop-ups provide

We mentioned lower-risk, and that’s all part of the flexible appeal of pop-ups. You decide how long to commit to your pop-up while avoiding the higher costs that might normally be associated with one large-scale festival or a regular series of events. And with lower overheads, you can also offer tickets at a lower price-point – something that might make it more attractive to people during these tricky times. 

Look at venues you might not have considered before

With regards to flexibility, more and more venues seeking alternative revenue streams are opening their doors to fledgling event creators. The pandemic continues to impact where many of us work, which means that – particularly in cities – there are empty office spaces and areas that don’t see as many commuters as they used to. This presents an opportunity to be innovative about where you put on an event or use a space. For example, Max’s Sandwich Shop in north London plans to tempt people in on a normally quiet Monday night by welcoming Wax / Wine founder Magali Bellego for a one-off candle-making class.

This means it’s worth talking to local restaurants, bars and cafes – or anywhere, really – about turning it into a multipurpose space. Hire costs could be less than a more traditional venue and there’s the chance you could host your event somewhere that wasn’t possible before the pandemic. 

Enable attendees to be a force for good

Having missed out on the opportunity to socialise for months at a time during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for organisers to facilitate connections and build community. Give people a chance to meet in real life and enjoy their passions in a way they can’t via a screen.

In addition, think about what you can do to support people’s desire to support others and do social good – an awareness that’s certainly grown out of the pandemic. Like the team at Tens Studio, who are running three sessions of their natural indigo workshop over the course of one weekend. For every ticket sold, a young person from a low-income and disadvantaged family can secure a free spot at a dyeing event that takes place during the summer holiday. 

Whatever your passion or event idea, hosting a pop-up is a great way to test out local appetite for the experience while also giving you a chance to experiment with event formats, venues and much more. Ready to get started? 

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