How to manage your VIP hospitality event programs
As a professional event manager, you’re an expert in successful event planning. You probably know almost everything there is to know about managing online registrations, check-in, accommodations, travel, functions and more. But have you considered what you need to do if you’re tasked with managing a tailored VIP hospitality program?
VIP hospitality programs give you a lot to consider, particularly when you’re already busy with planning and managing a complex event. To run a successful program for VIPs there are a few things you need to plan for both pre-event and during the event.
VIP hospitality programs usually incorporate many of the event management practices you’re already familiar with, however, the overall approach you take should be focused on very specific requirements for the event or audience. For example, consider how your approach might change if you were managing the VIP experience in the following scenarios:
- A major sporting event, such as the Olympics or FIFA World Cup
- An international political summit
- An incentive trip for executives of a major international company.
In all these scenarios, you may be working with a large number of foreign guests, but this may not be the case for all VIP hospitality programs.
Types of VIP hospitality programs
No matter what the circumstances, VIP hospitality program guests bring unique requirements and challenges to your event.
Some examples of different groups where you may be required to offer a VIP hospitality program include:
- VIPs – persons that require a high level of attention and dedicated resources
- Hospitality groups – company executives, dignitaries from foreign countries, and other persons requiring special attention and treatment
- Special categories – members of a government delegation, press (in some cases), key clients of your client, plus other categories that you may designate for special attention and handling.
Things to consider when managing VIP hospitality programs
There are many moving parts when managing VIPs and other hospitality groups. Some things you may need to consider and plan for include:
- Special registration categories for VIPs and other special guests
- Packages designed for specific VIPs and guests
- Focused profile and background information, including dietary and special preferences
- Delegation assistance and communications
- Credential vetting and management
- Concierge support
- Table seating assignments
- Access control to VIP areas, such as VIP bars and lounges.
When it comes to managing the numerous details surrounding VIP hospitality programs, always make sure the event management platform you choose is able to manage these very specific requirements. Not many technology platforms are flexible enough to accommodate these.
Let’s take a look at some of the features and functionality you should look for now.
An important part of the VIP experience is that you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Ensuring your VIPs can enter private areas, participate in special events, access exclusive services and gifts, and claim better seating, are just a few perks VIPs enjoy.
If you and your team can’t identify your VIPs quickly and easily, there will be many awkward moments of checking credentials and lists, which could make the experience less special. Some ideas to help identify your VIPs from the rest of the crowd include customized lanyards or wristbands, or a large symbol on their name badge.
The easiest way to manage this is with event technology that allows you to sort your registrations into categories. Not only can you create special items for your VIPs, but you will also be able to use the registration category for reporting, communications and other services where you need to focus strictly on one or two registration categories.
If you want to make your VIPs feel really special, it’s important to have a high-level idea of where they are at all times (without being intrusive, of course). This really helps to personalize the experience. For example, imagine if your event staff had the power to greet every VIP by name as soon as they entered a particular area of the event.
Thankfully, your team doesn’t have to memorize a long list of pictures and names to accomplish this! If your event management platform has an option to integrate alerts, you can choose to be notified by email or text whenever a specific action happens, such as when a VIP registers for a program or checks-in at the event.
You can even go the extra mile by connecting proximity-detection technology to your event management platform. Beacons allow you to interact personally with VIPs by triggering location-specific content and alerts. This means you’re always able to stay one step ahead and create engaging, unique experiences, for every VIP.
Ticket and inventory management
This is one of the most important aspects of managing VIPs hospitality groups. In many VIP scenarios, you will be managing executive-level travel, gifts, hotel suites, event tickets in VIP boxes and much more.
These items can cost a lot of money, so you always want to have the perfect amount. Too many and you’ll go over budget; too little and you’ll be faced with the embarrassing situation of one of your VIPs being left without a premium piece of swag, or ticket to an important event.
With that in mind, it’s always important that your event management platform gives you visibility over each of these items, before, during and after the allocation process. You want to be able to account for everything.
Always select a platform that can support detailed and layered inventory information and comprehensive reporting on all distributions.
If you are managing a standard conference, communications tend to be fairly straightforward. Most communications are generated by templates and apply to many persons at the same time.
With VIP hospitality programs, however, communications are completely different. You will be managing detailed itineraries, confirmations for VIP housing, travel and much more. You need to make sure you are able to communicate details that are private, specific and focused on the requirements of each individual VIP.
This is especially important for communicating schedules, itineraries and other highly secure and private information.
The lesson here is to select an event management platform that is capable of supporting a wide range of communication types, that can be tailored to different types of attendees. This includes emails, text messages, phone calls and more.
The ability to create a customized attendee app is also critical, as you will be able to create private communication channels for VIP attendees to provide them with tailored information, and give them a space to network with each other before, during and after the event.
Sometimes your VIP hospitality program might be small, with only a few key attendees to manage. Sometimes it might be much larger, with hundreds or even thousands of VIPs to keep track of – each of them expecting a seamless experience. What happens with airport transfers and hotel check-in if they all arrive at the same time? On the other hand, will you have enough people at every VIP event if they arrive too far apart?
For events that involve a large VIP hospitality program, or those that take place over a period of days or weeks, make sure your event management platform has the functionality to manage your VIP and hospitality arrivals into “waves”. Waves of arrivals will usually encompass areas such as travel arrivals/transfers, hotel check-ins, event arrivals and more.
When working with multiple groups attending an event over different time frames, make sure you can separate each group into different designated waves. When you do that, it’s quite simple to create reports and data snapshots of each arrival wave.
Table seating assignments
When managing VIP hospitality programs, every detail must be considered. And that includes table seating assignments. Perhaps you want to make sure that your VIPs are seated together, or that they are distributed evenly throughout the room. If you are having a gala reception or dinner, you will probably want to have your speaker, award winners and other key participants seated near the front.
To achieve this, it’s critical your event software offers an integrated table seating assignment tool. You should be able to filter and sort your VIPs so you can assign seating as required – with no need for messy, disconnected Excel spreadsheets.
Managing VIP hospitality groups takes a high level of focus and management. There are many details to get right, and lots of things that need to happen behind the scenes. However, when done well, your special guests will have an experience they’ll never forget. They may even talk about it to friends and colleagues for weeks, months and even years to come.
At the end of the day, it will be your vision and organization – supported by the right event management tools, both pre-event and during the event – that will help create an outstanding VIP experience.
How can our event management solution help to manage VIP hospitality programs?
At EventsAir, we understand the importance of selecting the right event technology partner – someone who can help deliver a seamless and memorable experience for all your attendees, especially your VIPs.
Our award-winning platform incorporates the latest features and functionality that will support you to deliver a customized VIP experience, including registration and credentials management, alerts, communication tools, arrival waves, seating assignments and much more.
We have one simple mission: to help event planners deliver the WOW in their events with the world’s most powerful event management technology. We’ve delivered some of the world’s biggest events, and we’d love to help you too.
If you would like to understand how powerful event data can maximize your event planning and delivery then schedule a demo with one of our team members today.