Why in the world would you organise a secret event? Isn’t the whole point of an event to get people together?
Yes and no.
We live in a demystified world where everything gets shared on social media with everyone. TMI (too much information) is part of our daily routine, which means we lack a bit of “the unknown”.
There is something magical about exploring unknown territory and not knowing what to expect. We’ve previously written about how exclusive events can make people feel special.
Scarcity works wonders for ticket sales.
But what could possibly be more exclusive than a secret even that only a few people know about?
Secret events are not only a great way to build hype. There can be many reasons you’d want to host an event for a select group of people.
Maybe it’s particularly raunchy (Eyes Wide Shut, anyone?) or simply a gathering for your immediate circle.
We’ve all heard about events that have gone viral on social media and then had whole neighbourhoods descend on them.
So let’s talk about secret events. In this article we’ll cover:
- Why you should host a secret event
- What part of it to keep secret
- Which details to leak and when
- How to think about communication
- Where to find the right venue
- How to let people access the venue
- How to use influencers to help with promotion
- Selling tickets for secret events
- Following up after the event
As you can see, there’s a bit more to it than simply not telling everyone.
So let’s get started!
1. Why should you host a secret event?
Ever wondered how ice cream parlours stay in business during the cold winter months?
They sell hot chocolate.
The average business will experience seasonal highs and lows. The key to minimising the lows is to rethink your approach to putting on events.
Secret events will help you spice things up and maintain relevance during seasonal lows. It’ll also introduce a bit of mystery and exclusivity to your venue or business.
2. What’s the secret?
The secret element of your event is something you should think long and hard about. You want to keep parts of it a mystery.
But you also want people to know enough to become intrigued. You want them to start talking about it and create some hype.
Secret Sessions is a singer-songwriter group in London that hosts monthly live events. The tickets and location are only made available to members of the group. No one knows who will be performing—but it’s always a success.
Dans Le Noir is a restaurant chain where guests eat in the dark and are served by blind waiters. Apart from a few general options, the guests don’t know what exactly they’re being served.
Both Secret Sessions and Dans Le Noir are perfect examples of secret events. Have a think about what you could keep secret to pique the interest of your guests.
3. Drip-feed the details
Part of your marketing campaign could be to slowly leak details in the lead-up to the event.
Start with a general location or an overall theme. Then narrow down the information as time progresses.
Plot a timeline for what you will reveal when, and watch the fascination unfold online. It will make people look forward to the next piece of the puzzle.
4. Find the right venue
The venue for your secret event doesn’t have to be a secret itself.
The aforementioned Secret Sessions are held at a well-known venue (which we won’t reveal here) and Dans Le Noir is an international restaurant chain.
Yet it does add an extra element of mystery if you choose one of the secret underground venues around town.
But your priority should always be to pick a venue that suits the theme of the event. Most importantly: Make sure the venue staff do not leak any secrets!
5. Make knowledge an entry requirement
You know this concept if you’ve ever been to one of the many speakeasies in big cities.
First, you have to hear about the venue from someone who knows. Then you have to walk down an alleyway, hide in a dust bin, and wait for it to be collected.
Or it could be simpler: Pick the right book from a bookcase at a pub and reveal a hidden door that leads to the secret venue.
The options are only limited by your creativity. Add a small challenge for your guests. They’ll appreciate it.
6. Rethink communication
Since your event is secret, you have to be smart about how you communicate. You can drop hints on social media and to your mailing list.
But you’ll need a separate communication channel for people who actually sign up to attend.
You have several options to choose from:
- Text messages
- A WhatsApp group
- Phone hotline
- A separate mailing list
- Physical tickets
- A closed Facebook group
- Direct mail (snail mail)
- A custom built mobile app
You won’t be 100% able to prevent attendees from sharing the secret information. But it’s in their own best interest to keep the secret so their friends can be jealous later.
7. Leverage influencers (and journalists)
If you have access to any relevant social media influencers, then try to recruit them for the promotion.
Let them drop hints to their followers alongside your other marketing. They will be a huge asset to your campaign, as they fill the role of “trusted adviser” to their fans.
You can likewise use journalists or bloggers to do the same with their readership. Just make sure that no one reveals any details you haven’t yet revealed on your own channels.
8. How do you sell tickets for a secret event?
Certain ticketing systems will give you the option of creating a private (or secret) event.
That means your event listing won’t be featured on the front page…or even show up in searches.
Billetto gives you the option to do just that. You’ll also be able to hide certain tickets behind access codes.
Why not make the access code part of your promotional strategy?
9. After the event
You want people to keep talking after the event, just like with any non-secret gathering.
Your guests will be dying to tell everyone what the secret was, so now is the time to get creative. If you want to host a similar event in the future, you will need to come up with a new secret.
It could be different performers, a different venue, or an entirely new concept. The important part is that even people who attended the previous event won’t know what to expect.
There are numerous benefits to organising secret events. It’ll help create a buzz during seasonal lows and add some much-needed mystery to the nightlife.
Here are the points you should consider for your secret event:
- Figure out what the secret should be
- Know what details to leak and when
- Rethink how you communicate with attendees
- Find the right venue that matches your theme
- Make entering the venue part of the mystery
- Use influencers and journalists to drop hints
- Find a ticketing platform like Billetto that facilitates private events
- Follow up after the event to maintain the buzz
Everyone loves a secret, so you have every reason to get in on the action. Good luck!