Pop up venues are a flexible route to event success

Temporary and pop up venues offer organisers the opportunity to shape the event to their particular needs

As the festive season kicks into action, event organisers take advantage of temporary structures to get the party started.

Andrew Hodgkins, group managing director events, at the Smart Group, said: “At Smart Group we were delivering such events 20 years ago long before the term ‘pop-up’ was coined.

“This year will see the launch of a brand new pop-up Christmas venue on Finsbury Square hosting Smart’s Victoriana party which will bring our award-winning parties right to the heart of the city; appropriately in a location made famous for the invention of the Christmas cracker.”

So why with all the bricks and mortar around do people keep coming to these temporary venues? The truth is Christmas is a unique market which has wildly different needs to that of the day-to-day events market.

Hotels, restaurants and venues all see the festive season as a key trading period but there the similarity ends as they are all trying to accommodate Christmas within their primary focus on guests, dinners and visitors. Christmas is something they want to maximise but can never fully adopt due the constraints placed upon them. Pop-ups provide a blank canvas for creating themes and designing concepts, these spaces truly lend themselves to the staging of elaborate high production extravaganzas.

“Battersea Evolution is the ultimate pop-up running from September to June each year, its annual rebirth gives it the chance to evolve and innovate faster than any permanent building. This year, Smart launched the new Mezzanine level at Battersea Evolution which has opened the venue to a whole new audience delivering 700sqm of elevated space with natural daylight, views over the main event space and a new kitchen area,” says Hodgkins.

It’s not just party animals that favour pop-up venues.

TRO and BMW Group have teamed up to launch three pop-up shops, exclusively dedicated to the BMW i range of electric vehicles and lifestyle merchandise.

The first BMW i pop-up space opened in October in Newcastle’s Intu Metro Centre in collaboration with Lloyd BMW Newcastle.

TRO designed the brand space and experience taking style cues from the award-winning BMW i3 and i8 vehicles, focusing on technology and lifestyle to bring the i brand to stunning life.

The store featured LED lighting, a living wall, and different zones which all come together to create a beautiful space and experience for shoppers. Experiences include a lounge area with coffee bar, a story wall containing iPioneer customer stories on interactive screens, a kids’ zone with ‘buzzwire’ and other games, and a charging zone for mobile phones.

Carl Sanderson, general manager, BMW i said: “Our BMW i Pop-Up Shops will give visitors, who might not have considered BMW before, the chance to touch and feel the brand and product in an informal, immersive and interactive environment.

“BMW has seen great success from its award-winning Pop-Up Shops programme, and we are looking forward to welcoming people to our specially designed i shops over the coming weeks.”

The BMW i Pop-Up Shops visited Newcastle, Manchester and Bristol in the last three months.

Sarah Mayo,
TRO brand and business development director, said: “At our agency we work with an extensive list of automotive brands and the success of our business is dependent on us leading the way, exploring and using new techniques to meet the changing retail environment and consumer needs. Consumers now expect more from brands and are starting to expect more from retail environments too.

“Automotive manufacturers have always been based in large retail spaces out of town and people tend to only visit when they are specifically looking for a new car. Pre the digital age that worked okay as prospects would carry out their initial research in dealerships, giving dealer staff the opportunity to deliver a brand and product experience.

“But the internet has led to significant consumer behavioural change. Initial research is now carried out online and consumers often only visit the dealerships of a narrow shortlist of cars – taking away that opportunity for a face-to-face brand experience to affect their purchase decision. A pop-up shop in a high footfall shopping centre with both brand experience and retail focus elements solves all these problems – taking the dealership to the consumer and giving shoppers a digital, experiential and retail experience in one.

“The challenge of pop-ups in a shopping centre environment is the competion for customers’ attention. When consumers visit a dealership they are already ‘hooked’ and interested in the product, and as a brand you have their full attention. The pop-up shop then needs to create this hook and interest within the shopping centre, and give passers-by a reason to stop and visit a shop selling a product not traditionally considered an impulse buy.

Michael Laidler, key account executive at 1879 Events Management, underlines these arguments.

He said: “The major benefit of using pop-up venues as opposed to existing or long term sites, is undoubtedly the higher degree of flexibility they afford.

“Opting for a temporary structure, such as a simple marquee or extravagant multi-room construction, offers you the opportunity to tailor almost everything, from the location and specific site positioning to the size, style and floorplan of the space itself.

“We have seen this used to great effect in private celebrations such as weddings, with one couple in particular erecting several adjoining marquees at their local garden centre to create a tailored venue closer to home. It has also proven beneficial to several of our larger corporate clients, including South Tyneside Council and Northern Pride, who have transformed parks and recreational grounds into outdoor festival spaces, allowing them to cater for larger crowds than would otherwise have been possible.

“On a wider scale, pop-up venues have created a revolution in catering and have broken down the formality of today’s dining experience. This, in turn, has driven mobile food operators to significantly improve their standards and extend the scope and creativity of their offerings in recent years.”

The Deck at the National Theatre (pictured above and on previous page) is a licensed venue available for private day-time meetings, product launches, and conferences. It offers stunning views of the Thames and City skyline and a flexible space.

The London Breakfast Meetings Week Open Morning on 6 October 2015 (pictured)demonstrated the venue’s corporate event capabilities. Attended by event bookers, fellow London venues and key trade press, the occasion was designed to highlight the benefits of breakfast events.

The Deck treated guests to an offering from the National Theatre’s in-house catering team.

It remains to be seen if pop-up venues will become flavour of the month for more event organisers.




Conference News resides at the heart of the conference industry examining the issues affecting organisers, venues, destinations and suppliers. Published monthly, Conference News features the latest news, interviews and industry analysis from market influencers.

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