To enter the after-parties for the Golden Globes, anyone who didn’t attend the ceremony gathers in a parking garage about a mile away. Used for both security and space issues, the process causes the crowd of celebrities, executives, and members of the press to wait upwards of 90 minutes before being shuttled to the parties.
“There has to be a better way,” noted a fed-up Rachel Zoe to Variety this year.
While there may not be a better way to deal with such a high-profile crowd, event planners know many ways to keep guests comfortable and entertained in the inevitable lines that come with large events, trade shows, and festivals. Here are just some go-to moves.
First things first: Keep everyone informed as much as possible. Using mobile push notifications to let people know if areas are full is a great way to keep everyone informed. Ideas like creating dedicated social-media handles, to update attendees is another option. “It helps us keep fans informed across all our shows,” Lance Fensterman, the global president of New York-based convention organizer ReedPop says. “Just giving them proper updates goes a long way.”
Make the actual check-in process as smooth as possible. Can you add more staff or tables? Add mobile check-in? Or allow people to pre-register? If you have the budget to incorporate the technology, let guests check themselves in— then they can just come in and get their badges and speed the whole process up.
Allowing guests to check themselves in can actually boost morale—even in situations where it doesn’t necessarily cut down on the amount of time. “If people are engaged, they will be less frustrated” says Valerie Bihet, owner of Miami-based event firm the Vibe Agency
See if timed entry makes sense for your event. For certain large events, such as food festivals, timed entry is another great solution. The co-founder and C.E.O. of the popular Dessert Goals festival allows a new batch of 300 attendees to enter every 90 minutes.
Guests are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes before their timed entry. While guests wait they can read the map / program of what’s inside. Right when their time slot opens, they can head inside and make the most of their experience.
If there’s no way to avoid a long line, make sure guests are comfortable. If the line is outside, plan for possible swings in the weather. Tents really aren’t that expensive; even if it’s a gorgeous day, not having the sun beating down on you while you’re in line makes a big difference.
For New York Comic Con in 2015, Fensterman partnered with Progressive to offer something called “Protector-corns”; guests just needed to tweet the phrase #LineInsurance and a Progressive representative would come hold their spot in line. It let fans go get food and use the bathrooms without having to worry about missing something. The line-holders also entertained the crowd with impromptu dance parties, trivia, and other engaging touches.
Offer interactive entertainment. Having something as simple as a magician doing card tricks up and down the line. A small crowd forms, everyone gets distracted. It’s something that is engaging, and it’s total escapism.
Having music playing or even offering silent disco options is amazing for keeping the crowd in a good mood. If you have the opportunity to put up TV screens for guests to watch, it can definitely help people be more patient. You can even have a sponsor’s promotional video or information playing—if people are in line, they will watch it.