How to Make Your Guests Open Up at an Event
Organizing an event is an exciting process but also a huge responsibility. Choosing an awesome venue or activity, selecting and sending out RSVPs, making arrangements with a catering service, it's like figuring out a thousand piece puzzle.
For guests though, it's not so much about the flower placement and lighting, but they do take note of such details. It's more about a positive experience, cheerful conversations, and simply having a good time.
The end goal of all the organizing is to help guests enjoy the event.
A positive and unforgettable emotional experience is the primary value for any kind of event, from a more intimate occasion like a family-only birthday or wedding party to a full-blown opening night or launch.
And if we're talking about brand parties specifically, the positive emotions the guests will associate with the brand are priceless. Brands like Aston Martin, Brioni, Rolex, and many other high-end companies value the events where they can form a close connection with their clients.
How to Create a Positive Experience for Guests
First and foremost, find out everything you can about the people on the guest list. Learning the likes and dislikes, family status, and career choice of those invited can give you a good idea of the kind of event they might enjoy. If you know a lot of details about a person, it’s a lot easier to start a conversation or introduce two guests that you know would be delighted to meet each other.
Their relationships also play a role in creating an experience. If you’re organizing a small birthday or wedding, most of the guest know each other and don’t need much incentive to open up and have a good time. Brand events are trickier. Guests are selected by certain criteria. A cosmetics launch, for example, could be for a group of influencers in the field. And, most likely, they don’t hang out on a regular basis.
So how do you help them relax and connect with other people at the event if the guests are more or less strangers? You get them excited about the party starting with the very first contact.
Create an Outstanding Invitation
The event experience starts long before the doors open.
An unusual invitation might strike the right chords of your guests and those around them. It could be something small but special or you could do a one-eighty and make something spectacular. Say, a medieval guy on a horse and carriage comes as the messenger and invites you in front of all the people.
Or a harsh variant for those with a good sense of humor is sending a fake policeman. Imagine someone sitting in their office doing a boring routine work when suddenly, the secretary calls and says: “There’s a police officer looking for you, Mr. Müller”. And there they are handing an invitation.
Scenarios like these create unforgettable moments and make people wonder what the very event will be like. It’s also a good precedent for a conversation.
Choose an Appropriate Event Location
The location doesn't have to be a classic hotel, it may be something bright and unusual.
CEOs of luxury brands deal with high expectations. Corporates need ideas for creating a special experience for their top clients and they turn to event professionals for the answers.
So, the choice of a fitting location is crucial for success. And it does not always have to be a classic 5-star hotel. It could be a bubble hotel with a spectacular view or an outdoors event amidst the picturesque nature. But if you don’t feel like the guests would enjoy outdoor activities, then high-end hotels and luxury restaurants are a surefire option. They are quite appropriate for events as they usually offer a whole selection of services suitable for special events: rooms that can be decorated according to the party theme, chefs to prepare delicious food, and other necessities.
Hotels are also convenient in that you can offer accommodations to guests where they can get ready before the even and chill out afterward. What you can’t guarantee with these kinds of venues is absolute privacy.
An apartment hotel, on the other hand, helps create a private homey atmosphere — a more informal setting that helps reduce social anxiety — saving all the service-related advantages of a classic hotel at the same time.
An apartment is an unconventional option that’s bound to strike a conversation between friends and total strangers that were invited for an occasion.
Since apartments are not initially meant for events, an event organizer can attach whatever story to it. Decorate it as you like, bring the necessary equipment and customize the whole thing according to your own plan. Make it an icebreaker for your guests: a unique event venue would be a great conversation starter.
That being said, apartments are more suitable for small events which, in a sense, could be an advantage or a drawback depending on the size of the guest list. Of course, with a short one, a smaller venue is a must. Big rooms may feel uncomfortable and push people to form small groups spread across the place. And long distances between groups don’t do much favor to networking.
How to Create a Laidback Environment for Bigger Indoors Events
Appropriate lightning may bring a cozy and intimate atmosphere even into a large indoors event.
If you do have a large event, you can still use the principle of a private location in a bigger space. Arrange furniture around the perimeter so guests can easily move around but stay in a tighter circle. You can also add high tables instead of the ordinary dining setting with tables and chairs. Guests can stand around them and talk, put their food and drinks on it. And they’ll have an incentive to move around, participate in the event more actively.
Lighting also plays a big role. Biologically, we are more likely to relax when the lights are slightly dimmed. It’s also beneficial from a psychological standpoint, as there’s less worrying about how you look. This way, it is easier for guests to hold and enjoy a conversation. Same as with soft lounge music — it’s quite neutral for most tastes and veils other conversations.
Entertain the Guests
#1. Give an incentive to talk
Surely, the first thing that comes to your mind is alcohol. This is the easiest way to make people more open and relaxed. And you can make a whole experience out of it inviting a mixologist.
Additionally, find out beforehand what your guests prefer and make sure you have it. Some people don’t drink alcohol as a matter of choice and it wouldn’t be nice to leave them thirsty. When arranging an event in a hotel or a restaurant, make sure to stock up their preferred beverages.
Le Bijou apartment hotels provide each accommodation with a big bar with a nice selection of spirits — and you can fill it up with other options, as the guests desire.
#2. Give something to talk about
A nice idea would be to invite a speaker to deliver something akin to a TEDx talk. This is a huge inspirational entertainment.
You might wonder how to hold a presentation if there’s no usual stage or microphone at an apartment, for example. The presenter can just stand in front of people and show the content on a large TV screen. Every attendee will find a comfortable place to watch and feel more involved in the topic.
#3. Pick a good topic
Live conversation is the best way to help people get to know each other better.
Think of a topic that relates to your subject, but not the professional area of the event’s guests. For example, a talk about alternative sources of energy would be spot on for a brand that manufactures electric cars. And in most cases, it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. Make it longer, and guests will lose focus.
#4. Invite a celebrity or a performer
Celebrities can also add to creating an unforgettable experience at the event. People always like interacting with famous ones. Or you could suggest something more unusual. One of the events at Le Bijou had a mind-reader. The magician would come up to people, ask to think of a number and then tell this exact number a person would think of — an incredible attraction.
Follow-up with Memories
Even the unforgettable gets blurry after some time. Photos, videos, and other post-event content will do a good job of reminding people what a great time they’ve had. And it can be shared online.
You might also ask for feedback and publish some most interesting stories on your blog or social media page.
Sweet memories are the most precious thing that guests may save after the event. The view from the Le Bijou Luzerne apartment hotel.
The key to a successful event is a spectacular experience. Preparing extraordinary invitations, choosing a comfortable homelike venue and organizing a surprising kind of entertainment will help the guests open up.
If people talked to each other, had fun and felt comfortable, that means you made it as an event organizer. And they would share the stories about their great experience virtually everywhere.