10 Conferences That Excel at Exclusive VIP Experiences

Skift Take

Do you want attendees to squeal like pre-teens at their first boy band concert? Then consider offering exclusive experiences and upgrades at your next event. Read on for examples you can apply to your events.

Have you ever scored backstage passes? Then you know the thrill of experiencing things few have before you. There’s a giddiness in that kind of special treatment.

If you’re planning a conference with big names or deep knowledge, you can tap that interest for an exclusive experience. You can create additional streams of revenue with very little effort outside the coordination of selling tickets and arranging time. The talent and knowledge are already there, you just need to charge (additionally) for it. Not sure what that should look like? Here are 10 examples of very different types of VIP experiences to get you started.

Tony Robbins Live & In Person

This one-day Power of Success event that Tony Robbins does periodically includes a “Platinum-level ticket” that allows the attendee access to a VIP luncheon, seating in rows 1-4, a VIP entrance, a copy of his latest book, and a photo with Tony. That type of exclusivity sells out even at $1495 a ticket (at his Montreal event.).

Cosmopolitan’s ‘Fun Fearless Life’ Conference

This two-day conference brought together “lifestyle gurus, some of the hottest names in Hollywood, empowering female entrepreneurs and more” for fun sessions and learning. The Diamond Level ticket allowed attendees to be part of a VIP reception giving them networking access to its speakers. Past speakers have included Chelsea Handler, Jillian Michaels, and Ivanka Trump.

Content Marketing World Conference & Expo

Content Marketing World offers workshops, labs, sessions, and an expo aimed at helping businesses create more effective content. Their VIP ticket options include an all access pass, guaranteed seating in every session (a must for their most popular), VIP section seating for keynotes (Kevin Spacey and Mark Hamill are past keynote speakers), fastpass check-in at registration, access to a VIP lounge and party, and preferred room blocks.   

Jillian Michaels Live

In Jillian Michaels’ tour, she offers a VIP ticket that includes a meet and greet with her and VIP seating in the first 10 rows. Each VIP ticket holder also gets a professionally shot photograph with Jillian. VIPs register at a special VIP table and receive a wristband that helps staff identify them as VIPs.

Broccoli City Festival

Broccoli City Festival has one of the best VIP perks out there and anyone who has ever attended a music festival will understand the value. While it’s a conference on innovation, it also features an “all-night” (10 pm- 2 am) art and music pop-up where the VIPs receive access to the main stage pit and dedicated bars. But the best perk ever is access to luxury bathrooms.


99UConference offers a patron pass that pulls out the stops. Conference organizers know their attendees are needed back at the office and their patron pass gives access to a quiet patron lounge (with special power stations) and simulcast of all sessions. Patrons get early access to video sessions after the conference as well as a year of their magazine and all three of their books. VIPs also receive 2 guest passes for one of the swanky after parties as well as free food and swag in the patron lounge. The lounge allows patrons to mingle with speakers and press reps.

BlogHer17 Conference

While most events create a VIP level with exclusive meet and greets, the BlogHer conference caters to its niche – bloggers. Since bloggers often don’t bring in the same salaries as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, BlogHer got inventive with its ticket pricing. They offer a full conference pass with prices for bloggers, a corporate rate, and a student price. But what is interesting is that they also have a networking-only rate. Attendees who only want to partake in the social functions can pay about half of what those who attend the learning sessions and social sessions do. It’s a way to make it more affordable and give people a glimpse of all the fun that full attendees are getting to be a part of.

Star Wars Celebration

Ever since Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, Orlando has been seeing a lot of the darkside (and jedis). The VIP tickets at the Star Wars Celebration 2017 included a lot of cool memorabilia along with early access, something super fans love. Some of these included collectible lanyards, commemorative programs, a show poster, store discount, and VIP lounge access.

It also included early access to:

  • a preview shopping night
  • the exhibit hall
  • the store

VIPs enjoyed expedited checkout at the store, express line pass to autograph hall, first access to panels, and a private meet and greet with a special guest to be named later. Best of all, their VIP ticket holders answer to the title Jedi Master. Wonder if Obi-Wan would approve.


Coachella is one of the most popular music and art festivals in the U.S. It’s held in the desert, which makes what they offer to VIPs all the more meaningful – shade. Yes, they have three VIP areas and all of them boast a very important commodity in the desert, being able to get out of the sun. Another premium at a music festival and included in the VIP experience – additional bathrooms. They also offer VIP parking (at an additional charge).

Nordic Culinary Conference

This tasty conference held at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle gives VIPs a fun and delicious way to experience more than the average ticket holder. The VIP ticket includes a meet and greet with the chefs, access to the opening reception and keynote, admission to all courses, and a swag bag.

In Conclusion

These event VIP experiences prove that you can charge a little extra for just about anything, including “luxury” bathrooms. If you’re looking to broaden your revenue stream, think about these options. For these upsells to be successful you must offer something people need or want, like exclusive access or additional training. Then use exclusivity to drive interest. Some event planners will even show how many tickets are left in order to drive purchases. For most of these suggestions, you already have the resources available to make them a reality. It’s just a matter of some quick coordination and marketing.