Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read the full disclosure here.
Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Chris Panteli
How to Host a Pop-Up Event
From boutique products to experimental dining, pop-up events are gaining huge popularity across the States.
They’ve been around for about a decade, but these seemingly unplanned events are trending and can be a great way to make some serious cash.
If you’re great with planning and love selling to customers, this guide will show you how to host a pop-up event and make money in the process.
Looking for ways to make fast money? Head to our next guide on making extra cash with a vending machine business.
- How to Host a Pop-Up Event
- What Is a Pop-Up Event?
- Why Host a Pop-Up Event?
- How Much Do Pop-up Event Hosts Make?
- Things To Consider Before Hosting a Pop-Up Event
- Types of Pop-Up Events
- How to Host a Pop-Up Event
- How to Make Money With Pop-Up Events
- Tips for Organizing a Successful Pop-Up Event
- Pop-Up Event Marketing Ideas
- Are Pop-Up Events Right For You?
- How to Host a Pop-Up Event
What Is a Pop-Up Event?
Pop-up events are temporary spaces that hold unexpected experiences. They pop up in a random place, and within a few hours or days, they’re gone again. Most events are temporary by nature; what makes a pop-up event unique is the element of surprise and unexpected locations.
You can host both in-person and virtual pop-up events, providing everything from cooking classes and dining experiences to boutique shopping and market research.
Why Host a Pop-Up Event?
For businesses, pop-up events help build brand awareness, attract new customers, and create a buzz about a product line or service.
It’s also a chance to test-run a new product without investing too heavily in product or marketing.
For some brands, it’s a chance to have fun and connect with customers in a new and exciting way to help gain brand loyalty.
What’s great about a pop-up event is that it doesn’t have to be about directly selling your product or service. It could be about hosting a fun activity for your ideal customers – just like Adidas did when it hosted a pop-up arcade event for its customers in Barcelona. The store looked like a giant shoebox, and customers lined up to try out the games inside.
Whether it’s handing out tote bags in a park or creating a boutique within a boutique on the high street, pop-ups have so many benefits and can make some serious cash.
How Much Do Pop-up Event Hosts Make?
The sky is the limit when it comes to making money with pop-up events. Since they offer a unique, limited-time offer, people are willing to pay a premium to be involved.
Dining experiences tend to be the biggest money-makers since customers pay for not only the food but the experience within the pop-up venue.
However, it’s also easy to make money selling unique products, handmade items, or offering a service.
Looking for businesses that make consistent cash every month? This guide will show you how to start a laundromat business and how much cash you could make.
Making Money as a Pop-Up Event Planner
Brands pay event planners a lot of cash to create memorable events. In the Us, the average salary for an event planner is just over $53,200.
Some event planners specialize in pop-up events, creating unique, memorable experiences based on the brand’s goals.
If you don’t have your own products or services to offer, you can easily make money with pop-up events by becoming a special event planner in your area.
Things To Consider Before Hosting a Pop-Up Event
Although temporary events only last a few hours or a couple of days, they require a lot of planning. Here’s everything you need to consider before hosting your own successful pop-up event.
The Right Venue
The venue will make or break your pop-up event, so choose wisely. You could go for a temporary structure like a marquee, dome, or igloo or opt for a permanent venue like a hotel, retail space, or warehouse.
Temporary pop-up event spaces tend to create the most buzz, especially if they stand out and are unexpected. Of course, you’ll need to think about things like power, utilities, and setting up the structure quickly in advance (maybe even overnight).
Venues like hotels and shops are becoming much more open to hosting mini pop-up events, but it can be harder getting people through the door. Although the advantage is you’ve got all the utilities and resources already in place.
What are you going to need within your pop-up venue for it to work? Think about things like:
- Heaters or air conditioning
- ATMs or card readers
- Chillers or refrigerators for food and beverages
- Seating and tables
- Flooring and roofing
Pop-up events seem unplanned and impromptu, but there is a lot of planning that goes into them.
Pop-up events must be unexpected and a surprise for guests, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any marketing.
If people don’t know a pop-up shop is happening, they won’t know to visit. So, you need to plan a careful marketing campaign to create buzz.
Don’t give away what your pop-up shop is, but make sure potential customers know where it will be and when it’s open, and give hints about what they can expect.
If you’ve got limited seating or spaces, you might need to think about selling tickets in advance to avoid overcrowding or disappointing guests.
Types of Pop-Up Events
Start by figuring out what the goal of your pop-up shop is – that will help you come up with winning pop-up event ideas.
Temporary Retail Space
If you have a product or service to offer customers, you’ll want a temporary retail space. This gives you the opportunity to showcase your products, figure out if a brick-and-mortar store would be viable, and figure out what kind of products the public wants from you.
This is a great way to test a business idea without the risk of commitment and overheads.
If you want to create buzz and make some quick cash, a one-time event can be hugely successful. This could be anything from a VR experience to an exclusive show, but it’s easy to leverage the scarcity and exclusivity of the event to make real money.
If you’re building a brand and want to create awareness and brand loyalty, go for an immersive experience. Bark Box, the monthly subscription service for dogs, held a month-long pop-up experience where people could bring their dogs and play with a new line of toys.
Each dog was fitted with a special collar that tracked activity, so owners could see exactly which toys they played with most.
The immersive experience was a huge success, and it helped inform their marketing and product line.
How to Host a Pop-Up Event
If you’re ready to host your own pop-up event, here’s a step-by-step guide to make it a success.
Evaluate Your Goals
Are you hoping to open a permanent store and want to test the market? Are you generating buzz to sell a one-off product? Are you creating an experience people will pay to try?
Figure out the goal of your pop-up store to help you determine what supplies you’ll need, what kind of venue to look for, and how to market your event.
Find the Right Location
Your location should have plenty of foot traffic to maximize impact. Of course, the most high-traffic areas will be harder and more expensive to set up on.
Some popular locations for pop-up stores include:
- Art galleries
- Outdoor areas (for marquees and kiosks)
If you’re struggling to find a venue, there are online tools like PeerSpace that can help you scout areas that are renting out.
Shop for Supplies
Once you have your location, you’ll need to set up shop. Now is the time to buy your inventory and anything you might need to set up your pop-up. You might need:
- Shelving, racks, and tables
- Decor pieces
- Food and beverages
- Serving trays and cutlery
- Cleaning supplies
Plan Your Big Launch
The success of a pop-up shop depends on the marketing in the lead-up to the event. At least six weeks before, start planning your marketing strategy and figure out what will happen on launch day.
- Do you need to hire staff?
- Will you hand out flyers in advance?
- Will you reach out to local influencers to build momentum
- How much time will you need to set up your pop-up?
Launch and enjoy
On launch day, your job is to connect with your customers. You’ve hopefully done all the hard work, and now it’s time to sell to your clients. Encourage customers to spread the word and do everything you can to make sure everyone has a great experience.
And don’t forget to take tons of pictures and videos to share on your social media to create hype for next time! You could even use a unique hashtag to get people creating content for you.
Analyze Your Event
Once the pop-up event is over, it’s time to take stock and figure out if it was a successful event.
- How much revenue did you generate?
- Did you have enough stock?
- Was it a good location?
- What would you do differently next time?
Ever wondered how much money car washes make in the States? You’ll be shocked! Head to this guide on starting a car wash business to find out.
How to Make Money With Pop-Up Events
The two common ways to make money at a pop-up are selling products or offering a service that people pay for.
If you decide to launch a restaurant pop-up, people will pay a premium for a table and to try the food. In a store environment, people will pay for your products.
Immersive experiences don’t tend to make money since the goal is brand awareness. However, you might decide to charge an entry fee to make cash from your event this way.
Some hosts decide to sell tickets in advance. This can be difficult since people won’t be totally sure what they’re buying into, but it can create a sense of exclusivity and get people talking.
Tips for Organizing a Successful Pop-Up Event
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – successful pop-ups require a LOT of planning. Here are a few tips on how to plan a pop-up event the right way.
Getting the Right Licenses & Permits
If you’re setting up your shop in an unusual area or you’re serving food and drinks, you’ll need to apply for the appropriate licenses and permits. These differ depending on what state and city you’re in, so make sure to check with your local authority to ensure your pop-up event is above board.
Temperature and Guest Comfort
If you’re planning on hosting an event outdoors, have you thought about guest comfort? If it’s cold outside, people won’t want to spend a lot of time at your event. Likewise, if it’s hot, a marquee will quickly become uncomfortable.
You might need to hire portable heaters or air conditioning units to keep your event at a comfy temperature. The last thing you want is people leaving early unhappy.
Food and Beverage Service
Serving food at the optimal temperature is essential for the safety of guests. If you’re going to have food at your event, you’ll need ways of keeping food chilled or hot on site. If you’re going with a catering service, they should be able to advise you on this.
Cashless Payment Systems
Cash is becoming less and less prominent, so you should have a quick and easy cashless system at your event. There are tons of mobile apps available to help with this, meaning your guests won’t be waiting around when your old POS system won’t work.
Creating a Budget
Your goal with this event is to make money, so don’t make the mistake of overspending on the setup. Start with a concrete budget, and don’t splurge on things that aren’t necessary.
Once you have a budget, you’ll be able to work backward and figure out how much you need to make to earn a decent profit. This will then tell you how much to charge for your products, entry, etc.
Start by hosting a pop-up in your local area – there’s power in doing things locally. Once you’ve figured out the winning formula, then you can think about duplicating the process in other cities and nearby states.
Pop-Up Event Marketing Ideas
Now you know how to host a pop-up event, you need a solid marketing plan so people know about your event ahead of time. Don’t just rely on people walking by on the day – you won’t get enough sales.
1. Start with PR
Reach out to local publications and let them know you’re hosting a pop-up. Media outlets love unique events, so you’ll probably get at least a couple that will run a story on it. Just remember, don’t give away all your secrets! Make the event a mystery to draw people in.
2. Reach out to local influencers and bloggers
Know any influencers or local bloggers? Reach out and let them know about your event. Find out how much they charge for a promo, and ask them to talk about your pop-up on their social media. If your budget allows, you might even be able to get them to attend.
4. Advertise on social media
Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok all have specific targeting options for paid ads. Create an eye-catching picture for your pop-up and run a low-budget ad targeting locals in the area.
6. Leverage direct mail
The great thing about local events is the power of local advertising. Create a great-looking flyer and post it in places where your ideal customers go (college campuses, cafes, bars, gyms, etc.). You could even go door-to-door with your flyers if you have a wider demographic.
Are Pop-Up Events Right For You?
Pop-ups are a fun and interesting way to make extra money. If you already have a brand or sell products, they’re a great way to generate extra income and create a buzz about your brand.
But you don’t need to have a business to launch a pop-up. As long as you have a product or service you could offer, a pop-up event can work anywhere – you just have to be willing to do the planning.
If you’re looking for ways to make money but hosting pop-up events isn’t for you, head to our next guide, where we show you how to make money jet washing.