Highlight What You're Not Telling Them

A wrapped package. Plane tickets to an unknown destination. A video of a returning soldier arriving unexpectedly at a family meal.  Secrecy.  Surprise.  We love it, don’t we?

Le Diner en Blanc is an event currently in demand all over the world. The guest list is hard to make, and even then attendees are only given a list of requirements, a city and a date.  You must wear all white, you bring your own meal, beverage, table, chairs, and dinnerware.  Just an hour or so before the event, guests are given a location, where they are met by leaders who say “follow me.” They are then led to an outdoor, landmark location where they set up and dine with thousands of other guests dressed in white.

Two elements of this dinner surprise me, given its popularity. One, the commitment people have to make to being there, dressing a certain way, providing all their own food and furniture, and the secrecy they maintain up until the last minute.  All that work to attend a dinner, and you don’t even know where it is being held?

But people love it, and honestly, I think I would too!  What fun. What a difference from our everyday experience.

NPR did a story on the dinner last September and they quote attendee Sandy Jarrett, “It’s all about the adventure,” she says. “It’s about lugging all the accoutrements to some unknown destination, and then getting there and seeing all these adventurers in white. It’s magical.”

So how might we add a little adventure via secrecy to our next event?  First, you’ll need to plan something, and then you’ll need to highlight what you’re not telling your guests.

You could plan something as big as an outing, like a dinner, hike, or landmark tour, or something smaller like a special surprise guest, or a hotel amenity you’ll be covering for everyone.  Wouldn’t it be fun if you’re registration packet included instructions like “We’re planning a surprise for our guests, bring comfortable walking shoes and a camera.” The bigger the surprise, the more you should highlight it in your promotional and registration materials.  Adding wonder, excitement and anticipation through planned surprises is a great way to catch guest attention and make your next event unique. Have you ever included a surprise in a planned event?

Your Thoughts?