Featured

TIME FOR CHANGE

The overwhelming impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is being felt by individuals and businesses all over the world.  This is a first for many, and businesses especially must navigate the financial and operational challenges whilst supporting their teams, customers and suppliers.  All this, whilst securing revenues, aligning their businesses with continuing demand and identifying new growth opportunities.

Phew!


In response to Covid-19, the Sneaky Experience management team re-evaluated processes and developed the following steps to oversee this period of change. 

Reach Out | Reassess | Rebuild

Sneaky took a step back and developed a 3-step process. Adopting this process and modifying procedures will demonstrate stability and strength, create confidence and reassurance; it will align Sneaky with its teams and clients, focussing on its business values and in turn it will encourage a more efficient recovery.

The first step is this process is the WHAT NOW stage. Following Government announcements, Sneaky immediately reached out to ticket-holders, commercial clients and our teams. 

Our first priority was to ensure everyone was aware of the current situation and how we planned to bounce back, even though the planned recovery period was evolving on a daily basis. Rather than hibernating, hoping it would all go away, we addressed the disruption, responded to demand and uncertainty, and continued to seek out new opportunities (they are there, we promise). 

Sneaky have a very open relationship with both clients and its teams; being supportive and in-turn receiving support helped enter the next stage together as a team and an extension of our client’s teams. 

Having navigated our way through the first phase, we are currently in the WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE stage. 

A period of uncertainty, unpredictability – and with new opportunities come competition threats in a saturated market. This is the perfect time to reassess our focus. Look at our portfolio of services; what can we do more of? What are our customers pain points, and how can we address them?

It has been a great opportunity to ‘spring clean’ and re-assess business priorities. The business plan has been modified.  We assessed outgoings and cash-flow and basically if it wasn’t essential to the growth of the business, it was eliminated.  Actually, a very good exercise and one we plan to carry forwards.

We continue to communicate with customers – this sounds an obvious thing to do, and being in the events industry, which has effectively come to a standstill, it may appear there’s little or no information to provide.  This may be so, but rather than retreat into hibernation, it’s imperative our clients know we are there to support them, not to benefit from more business, but to work alongside their teams, sharing best practice, new processes and to work with each other in defining the third and final stage – the rebuild.

Finally, we’re in the WORKING OUR WAY TO THE LIGHT stage – a new normal; processes, responsibility, and clarity of purpose and vision. 

Hallelujah – this is where everything we’re working towards now, will start falling into place. 

Business as usual will be very different, in fact life in general will be far removed from what it once was.  This may have some downsides, but equally many positive lessons will be learnt. Rebuilding the business, life, relationships will be progressive.

The working week will change for some; we anticipate an increase in efficient online meetings, replacing long journeys and time away from the office.  Sneaky has always provided a flexible way of working with our clients, we appreciate families and other work commitments can take up a lot of their time, therefore many of our meetings can be early morning or in the evenings, once the kids are in bed.

Priorities will change. Our recruitment plan has changed significantly; requirements have been re-assessed and it has become apparent that that roles which were previously ticking along nicely will now need more development and investment if we are to expand.

Our portfolio of services will develop and diversify.  Customers will have different priorities, and this is the time for Sneaky to focus on what matters and what will make a difference to our customers; safety, value for money, a more personal service, unique experiences.  Whilst we already tick a lot of these boxes, it is imperative we stay ahead of our competition and continue to innovate and inspire.

AND THE FUTURE? 

Ultimately, the event industry will not recover until customers confidence is achieved. For that to happen, we need to be market leaders, providing support, value and assurance.  To say the last few months have been a learning curve is an understatement; where we go from here will define who we are.  Watch this space.

Featured

We found a social distancing solution initially designed to solve a completely different issue!

In recent years, experiential events have been on the rise. Secret dining clubs, interactive cinema screenings and virtual reality expeditions; events have seduced ticket holders with expectations of participating in exclusive and unique adventures.  Sadly – for now anyway, these are distant memories since Covid-19 has forced event organisers to hibernate, during what should be one of the busiest times of the year.  

When it is safe to emerge, what then? How do events re-introduce themselves to, what will understandably be, a cautious market?   The beauty of Sneaky experiences is that they are incredibly interactive – all the senses are challenged and characters interacting with the audience is a given.  So, how the hell does that translate to these new social distancing times?  

Thankfully, Sneaky Experience already delivers a model which is perfectly designed for the new restrictions, including lower audience numbers at events.  

We believe in providing a personal experience for every audience member, without exception. That passion is evident in every one of our experiences; the one-to-one dialogue, a suggestive look from a character, a secret doorway…all create a unique experience for our guests.  The challenge is delivering these creative dreams, whilst ensuring shows are commercially sustainable.  

Sneaky Experience deliver its experiences to small, intimate groups, entering the experience every 15 minutes.  This applies to our family Santa experiences in the same way as an immersive Halloween board game for adults, where the audience are the game pieces.  This means that whilst the capacity per night may be 1,000+, the actual audience in each staged area, never exceeds 30 people.  

Sneaky Experience | Night of the Krampus

Do not under-estimate what a logistical challenge it is to make this work; producing a creative experience, whilst ensuring group number two doesn’t run into group number one, and if group number three goes down that corridor, will they hear group number four in the adjoining room – just a tiny handful of challenges we are faced with – more so as every venue we work with has a completely different layout and peculiarities.  8 years of site plans, spreadsheets and literally 1000’s of performances later, Sneaky finds itself with a social distancing solution which was initially designed to solve a completely different issue!

Sneaky Experience | Whispers in the Woods

We do recognise there’s a lot more to consider.  It is important further safety measures are put in place to keep everyone safe and to reassure our audience as well as Sneakys performers.  

Due to deliver an Easter themed experience to over 6,000 in various locations in the North, we were entering our busiest season when the pandemic hit the UK back in March.  After some quickly organised management meetings, the difficult decision was taken to postpone our programme of events. It was a first for us, and a decision we weren’t sure was the right one at the time, especially as other event organisers were still soldiering on at that point.  We’re now working on new dates, mindful of customer confidence, as well as the safety of our audience and extended teams.   We have invested in temperature tests, safety masks which tie into the theme of our events, and we’re working with venues to deliver our intimate experiences in even larger spaces, enabling guests to spread out.  

Sneaky Experience | Peter Rabbit Easter Experience

Events may not be happening right now, but we’re as busy as ever, continuing to create new experiences for smaller groups, whilst working with venues and our teams on safety procedures. There’s lot’s going on at Sneaky HQ – now all we need is an audience. 

Featured

The Return of the Drive-In Cinema

A resurgence in the classic outdoor screening experience is due, as cinemas and theatres in the UK have closed their doors to discourage the spread of Covid-19

Going to the cinema has always been a popular activity for families, couples and friends.  Comfy armchairs, sweet treats, and in the case of Sneaky Experience, a tasty pizza and ice-cold beer.  However, this once taken-for-granted night out is not currently possible, due to Covid-19. 

Never fear – there really is a solution on the horizon for cinema goers to experience the silver screen, whilst adhering to Governments social distancing guidelines. 

Safely snuggled in your car, a drive-in cinema experience really is the safest way to watch your favourite movies, old school, with family and friends.  Plus, there’s the added bonus of no rustling of food packaging from other cinema goers, or mobile phones vibrating to distract you during that perfect moment in the movie.

And it’s simple to use. The drive-in movie has its own frequency which will be announced on the giant screen.  It’s a simple case of turning on your radio to listen to the sound.

Sandy & Danny, on a first date in Grease.  Picture courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Around the rest of the world, business is booming for drive-ins, with more and more people jumping into their cars and making the trip to their nearest drive-in for a cinema experience with a difference.

Europe especially, has fully embraced the entertainment craze with drive-ins becoming the number one date spots for couples, and for family gatherings due to this epidemic. Going a step further, there’s now drive-in gigs, comedy nights, church services, all on offer – with flashing headlights and honking horns, there’s still the opportunity to create a great atmosphere.  

But how safe is it really?

We recommend online ticket sales prior to arrival, meaning there really is minimal contact with other people.  Guests don’t even need to get out of their cars to pick up refreshments; instead they can order whatever they desire via SMS from the comfort of their cars and their food and drink can be delivered straight to their vehicle

Stewards wearing high visibility vests and face-masks will direct movie-goers to their pre-designated parking spot.  And as everyone will have a pre-arranged arrival time, depending on their parking spot, there will be no queueing to gain entry. 

Providing half-capacity parking to achieve social distancing, movie-goers are encouraged to only leave their cars to go to the bathroom, and even then, individually, with restrooms being cleaned in-between each use.

Providing entertainment, drama and escapism, drive-in movies really do hold a romantic flame in our imaginations.  And right now, as it’s the safest and most comfortable way to see a movie or live show, we foresee the drive-in movie experience being sought after for many more months; lasting beyond the immediate crisis, as people continue to seek out socially distanced entertainment.

For more information get in touch with enquiries@sneakyexperience.co.uk   

“The noblest art is that of making others happy” P.T. Barnum

A great quote, that’s for sure, but what has it got to do with Sneaky Experience – Corporate?  We asked Julia Benfield, the founder of Sneaky, this question and more.

When did you start Sneaky, and why?

Sneaky Experience was established 12 years ago, mainly because at the time, my friends and I travelled all over the country to go to exciting new events which were completely different to anything we’d been to before.   It soon became apparent to me, we craved more than just an event; we wanted an experience.  I was fascinated how our adventure started way before the event too – it may have been a creative ticket stub, the themed costumes or a set of instructions telling us where to meet.  The events were always interactive, and we were all ‘in the moment’ – and post event, we all raved about the experience to our other friends for weeks, even months after.  How amazing that an experience can bring together a group of like-minded people to make them feel that way. 

Ah, hence the Barnum quote? 

Absolutely!  This is how I wanted to make people feel – it sounds cliché, but there’s nothing that excites me more than seeing peoples faces light up as they enter an event, or to hear a child exclaim that this is ‘the best day of their lives’.  Better still, is to hear clients and attendees talking about their event memories – hearing people enthuse passionately about their experience as much as my team and I are in providing it.  There’s a real sense of pride when we create dream events for attendees and our clients.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

There are plenty of challenges to overcome, short lead times, or restrictive budgets for instance.  But this just encourages us to think of new, innovative ways to work.  So, whilst these are challenging aspects, they are also the most exciting. They keep us on our toes, help us to learn new ways of doing things and, when completed, give us a greater sense of pride.

How do you cope with the long hours?

The hours can be long, and sometimes unsocial, but with that comes flexibility.   As a lot of our work is project based, it allows us to work from anywhere, plus we can choose when to work – early mornings or late nights; managing our own deadlines is a vital part of being an event planner.

We also understand that a lot of our clients have other work projects, or family commitments; it’s incredibly important to our team, that we work to a schedule that suits everyone; there’s no point having a project meeting with a client when they’re mind is on something else. The team at Sneaky always work hard to provide that flexibility for our clients. 

What’s been the best event you’ve delivered? 

Impossible question!  Every event is a dream event.

Commissioned to deliver a 6-week Christmas Grotto every year is an amazing experience; I love working collaboratively with our client on this project – working on the logistics to get 30,000 people through a promenade experience is no easy feat, but every year, it just gets better and better. 

The conference we’ve helped organise for the last 7 years is also a personal favourite. We work with the largest venues in the country, negotiate with suppliers, and manage the catering…. the list goes on.  Every venue brings new challenges, and that’s the greatest thing about this project, no two events are the same and we’re always juggling multiple tasks at once. Variety is the spice of life, and there’s certainly no time to be bored. 

Working at the Natural History Museum after hours was such an amazing experience! We were presented with numerous challenges with such an old historic building, it was great to work on problem solving with the rest of the team to find the best solution. 

Tell us about your team. 

Gosh, where to start?  I have been incredibly lucky to meet the people who now work with Sneaky.  There’s a core group of us who produce the events; we meet with our clients, brainstorm ideas and produce all our events together as a team.  Our extended team too, are superbly dedicated – the majority of our extended teams, we’ve worked with for years. 


I’m proud to work with my colleagues.  They are all as passionate about our events as I am, and their desire to exceed clients’ expectations is everything I could wish for. 

Not only are they all fantastically positive people with a great can-do attitudes, they are also great fun.  Our ideas sessions are pretty bonkers; everyone contributes to overcoming obstacles and sharing the workload. We’re a very close-knit team – it’s a great feeling, being part of a team that supports one-another through the challenges, and an even better feeling celebrating together after a successful event.

Last question, what’s the best part of your job?

Without a doubt; working with our clients.  I love meeting new people, understanding their pain points, and working on how to overcome them.  We have great relationships with all our clients and are very responsive to whether they want us to work autonomously or to involve them every step of the way. I know we help overcome challenges, assist in creating what they have visualised and planned in their heads, and ultimately, make their lives easier, allowing them to get on with the day job.

Understanding our clients can be challenging, but it’s without a doubt, the most rewarding part of being an Event Planner and has definitely contributed to our long-standing relationships.  

%d bloggers like this: