Good news: Some of your attendees are willing to spend more than you charge for your event. Especially if you offer them an enhanced experience in return.
VIP and tiered ticket programs let you offer attendees the exact experience they’re looking for — at the exact price they’re willing to pay. This means event upgrades, like a backstage pass to see your favorite artist or a VIP add-on at a wine festival. But before you make more money from VIP pricing, you need to be clear on what exactly a VIP event is — and what attendees will expect.
What’s a VIP event?
VIP events are typically a special tier of ticket pricing that guarantees attendees a personalized experience and may be invite-only. That VIP experience can be an upgrade to an existing event or an exclusive event just for VIPs.
Before you set out to craft what to offer VIPs, you have to decide if you want to host a VIP only event, or if you want to have a VIP tier of ticketing. Is your event on a larger scale — like a festival or conference, and want to give special access to a smaller group for a price? Or do you want to create a smaller, more exclusive event for a niche audience?
We’ve rounded both types of VIP experience ideas you can draw inspiration from.
Create an event exclusive to your VIPs
VIP event idea #1: Invitation-only event
If you’d like to up the FOMO factor to 11, think about hosting an invite-only VIP event. The guest list for your exclusive gathering of important people can range from top donors to a charity to thought leaders in your industry to celebrities and artists. Hosting invite-only events will bolster your public events and make them feel more valuable and unmissable.
VIP event idea #2: Award ceremony
Think the Oscars or The Emmys. Of course, not all award ceremonies are quite as slick and glamorous, but they’re a wonderful way to recognize and reward your organization’s VIPs, whether they’re top donors or social media influencers. It creates an opportunity to honor VIPs who normally don’t get to be in the spotlight.
VIP event idea #3: Formal dinner
Organize a formal dinner event with only VIPs in attendance. If you want to take it up a notch, have a celebrity presence at the dinner. Invite a local sports hero or television personality so your guests can rub elbows with the elite.
VIP event idea #4: Exclusive fireside chat
Give VIP attendees a more personal experience with well-known speakers. This gives them a chance to have their questions and comments addressed in a more intimate environment.
VIP event idea #5: VIP tastings
Treat your VIPs to special tasting with wine or food experts. Whether it’s food, wine, or some combination of the two, it’s a great way to attract the foodie demographic of VIPs. Catering to foodie attendees can get tricky, so use this list of 30 catering ideas that’ll keep you on the culinary cutting edge.
VIP event idea #6: Breakfast briefing
If you’re launching a new venture, or have an important announcement, consider this morning VIP event format. It’s a great way to reach a business audience, who would be unable to attend an event during office hours or after work.
VIP event idea #7: VIP pop-up
Why not change things up with a pop-up? Pop-ups are mainly known in the food and drink industry but could relate to any event. The idea is to set up a temporary and exclusive event that speaks to your VIPs interests.
VIP event idea #8: Secret VIP event
Keeping part of the agenda of your event a mystery really engages people’s curiosity. Whether it’s a surprise speaker or performer, secret meet-and-greet or bonus Q & A, it’s a way to tease the excitement to splurge on the VIP experience Combine this idea with a pop up to drive a more immediate response.
VIP event idea #9: City tour
Hosting an event that people travel to? Make your VIP guests feel even more at home with an exclusive tour of their new surroundings. Team up with local businesses to give your VIPs an insider experience of your event’s city.
Add a VIP element to your public event
VIP event idea #10: VIP lounge
Creating a VIP event doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Adding on an exclusive lounge or cordoned off area that offers complimentary drinks, or a special viewing area are popular options.
VIP event idea #11: Transportation
The VIP experience doesn’t have to begin onsite. Think about extending the experience with transportation by offering a close VIP parking lot or VIP shuttles from a central location to the event. Or, partner with a rideshare company like Lyft to provide a coupon on rides.
VIP event idea #12: Giveaways
Giveaways via social media are a smart way to build excitement for your VIP offerings. Send direct messages to followers with exclusive discount codes. Then, surprise the ones who interact on social media with VIP ticket giveaways or other prizes. Encourage them to post about the VIP packages to boost awareness.
VIP event idea #13: Digital access to event content
Do you have exclusive online content or thinking about streaming a seminar online? Give VIPs a special access code so even if they can’t make the event, they don’t feel as if they’ve missed out.
VIP event idea #14: Add a techy touch
RFID (radio-frequency identification) can enhance the experience for your VIPs. With RFID, VIPs simply wave their wristband or badge over a sensor to get in, making the entry seamless. The tech can also handle re-entry for multi-day events, or provide easy personalized access to multiple zones within an event (like a VIP area).
VIP event idea #15: VIP swag bags
Customize a swag bag with premium merch not available to all attendees. If you really want to go for it, get sponsors involved to offer more high-end gifts, like massages, tickets to shows, or wine.
VIP event idea #16: Upgrade the basics
Perks like VIP restrooms or special check-in lanes are standard, but you can go above and beyond that. For example, if you host a family-friendly event, include a supervised area to keep children entertained while your VIPs enjoy the adult activities.
VIP event idea #17: VIP loyalty program
A VIP program is a fantastic way to keep VIPs engaged beyond the scope of one event. Keep them in the loop with surprise online presale codes, and in person perks too — like skip-the-line passes and drink tickets.
VIP event idea #18: Exclusive access to performers
VIPs are drawn to packages that give them access to an exclusive community. VIPs are willing to pay more than double the price of GA tickets for VIP only access to areas with the artists or performers.
VIP event idea #19: Invite industry celebs
Depending on your event and budget, you might want to consider inviting a celebrity to your VIP event. Make sure you bring in figures who are notable within your audience and who would make you VIPs excited to attend. Sometimes a single name is all it takes to give a VIP event the buzz it deserves.
VIP event idea #20: Early access through strategic partnerships
It can be hard to compete with bigger events, especially when it comes to VIP offerings. But that’s when leveraging your existing partnerships, or aligning yourself with a new brand that appeals to your VIPs, can come in handy. Whether it’s through an advanced preview, upgraded swag bags, or premium seats, it’s a win-win.
VIP event idea #21: Offer VIP freebies at the event
Since VIPs already spend so much on tickets, why not offer up what they’d normally pay for at an event for free? From drinks to food to specialty merch, give them more reasons to be willing to splurge on the VIP tier again.
VIP event idea #22: Capitalize on holidays
It could be a federal holiday, social holiday, or the start of a season. Attaching an event to a day your attendees are already looking forward to helps build anticipation, and makes the event date easy to remember. For example, BottleRock Napa Valley takes advantage of Memorial Day Weekend, making themselves the official festival to kick summer off.
VIP event idea #23: Make it a multi-day event
If you have the time, budget, and resources, creating a multi-day event makes it easier for VIPs to attend at least one of your dates. Do something different for VIPs each day of the event. For example, if you’re hosting a culinary event, treat VIPs to on-site demonstrations one day, and special dinners where they’re to mix and mingle with the chef the next day.
VIP event idea #24: Quiet rooms
Hosting a conference? Consider adding a room where attendees can literally and figuratively recharge. An area to get work done, charge their phones, and maybe even enjoy 5-10 minute massages.
VIP event idea #25: Bag drop-off
Don’t underestimate the power of being able to safely leave bulky and cumbersome items like coats, bags, and other gear. Make it like a concierge service so it gives your VIPs a five-star service that’s nicer than a basic coat check.
Inspired to up your VIP game?
One of the best ways to help your event grow is by upping your VIP offerings. By doing so, you attract big spenders who are eager to invest in their experience — and come back year after year.