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

23 April 2020

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. 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 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 our audience.

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 their mind is on something else. The Sneaky team 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 problem solve 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.