When I organised my event, Zhivago Theater, we discussed the idea of selling alcohol at the theatre prior to the show. The theatre had a Premises Licence but this did not cover the sale of alcohol. I am a Personal Licence Holder but in order for me to sell alcohol in the theatre I would have had to apply for a TEN. My licensable activity would be ‘selling alcohol’.
We work on the principle that every person drinks at least 1 bottle of water. One bottle is half a litre. So for a 10,000 capacity festival we are looking at least at 5,000 litres. At Electric Daisy, with 145,000 attendees, we poured roughly 1 million bottles: or 500,000 litres of water over 3 days.
I met up with Tucker Gumber at Lightning in a Bottle Festival in 2015. Tucker is also known as the Festival Guy, and we talked about event promotion and his app FestEvo.
Please introduce yourself and explain what The Festival Guy does.
I’m Tucker and I’m known as the Festival Guy. It started as a way to go to festival for free. I thought if I review festivals I could come in as media. For that to actually work I had to visit a lot of festivals and it turned into something else. What I do is I look at problems at festivals and try to find solutions for them.
For example I've created a campaign to change the crowd’s perception that it is our responsibility to pick up after ourselves. I’m writing about the other stuff at festivals that no one else is talking about.
When did you start The Festival Guy and how many festivals have you visited so far?
My first festival was March 2011 and Lightning in a Bottle Festival in 2015 is number 78. I like to think I’m a seasoned festivalgoer by now.
What is your advice to a future festival organiser about how they should organise a festival?
Be very clear with your audience what they can expect. Give them rules. Rules at a festival are not bad. In fact it is for everyone’s benefit. Here at Lightning in a Bottle the rule is that you pack it in, pack it out. We’re going to pick up after ourselves and they have signs across the site to remind people of that rule. It works!
What happens at festivals where you do not have these rules is that I cannot go up to someone who throws something on the ground and say “hey, that’s not how we do it here”. So, rules work.
How do you find out about new festivals and especially the smaller festivals?
Normally I hear about festivals word-of-mouth. It will probably always that way because if you throw a good festival you want to come back again next year and brig your friends with you. I do get press releases on all the festivals and that’s how I keep my app FestEvo up to date.
I also started my own app called FestEvo that let’s you research the line up of festivals. The idea behind the app came from what I said about addressing problems at festivals. I discovered two main problems that we experience when at festivals. One we go to these festivals to spend time with our friends but you never really know which of your friends are going to be there.
We had met at a conference and after Northern Night Music Festival I received a message from this guy (he’s referring to me) that he was at the same festival and that it would have been cool to hang out. I replied by saying: “if someone only worked really hard on an app to solve that problem”.
The other problem is that when you go to a festival is hard to find out the entire line up and listen to the music. So you end up spending hours trying to find artists on Spotify and Youtube. In my app you can click on any festival and it will show you the entire line up and you can listen to every artist. The app can give a customised line up based on how you rate the artist. The app is free but the customised list is $1.
What aspects of the festival do you focus on when you review festivals?
I focus on everything. I want festivals to be sustainable but also easy to attend. I want there to be bathroom lights. I want to see and hear the music from the back of the crowd. I want to know what the crowd is like. The only thing I do not write about is what happens on the stages. Don’t go to the festival if you don’t like the line up.
How do people find out about festivals?
You want your festival to be on websites like Fest300, Music Festival Junkies, Wiki Festivals, and of course my app FestEvo.
What can festivals do to promote themselves?
Festivals should get way more creative with the content they create at the festival. Very few festivals let their artists control their Instagram account. They should all do that. Make smart content along the way and focus on more user generated content. Give someone a camera for the day and at the end of the day you can use that content.
Is it social media that festivals should focus on?
Honestly, a festival should focus on throwing the absolute best festival! Because if you throw an amazing festival, everyone that came this year will want to come back next year and they will bring people with them.
Lightning in a Bottle for example doesn’t rely on the line up. Everyone buys their tickets in advance because they want to be here, because it’s Lightning in a Bottle.
Where can people go if they want to find out more about you?
You can visit my website FestivalGuy.com or FestEvo.com and via there they can look me up on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
Go to my Youtube channel if you prefer to watch the interview with Tucker.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
ALL THE BEST FOR 2017!
Ever wondered why cities want to host events and festivals? You might think that the costs of street closures, police officers on duty, ambulances on standby, and cleaning costs would put councils off. Luckily not...
The economic benefits of events are quite often much greater than the costs. When I worked with San Francisco Pride I conducted an economic impact study on behalf of the city. The numbers were impressive:
- $40 million was spend on retail during Pride week
- $33 million in restaurants
- a total economic impact of almost $360 million
Not bad for a week long event. But that's just one event that takes place in the city by the Bay. Numerous events take place throughout the year and they all contribute to the local economy.
South Tyneside Summer Festival
Obviously there are costs as well. Have you ever heard of South Tyneside? Nope, me neither but in this area the council organises a few free events. They say the Summer Festival brings people to the area, provides jobs and adds £1.7 million to the local economy. But there is no such thing as a free event.
The councils has published their event budget and hence we can see how much it cost to organise Summer Festival 2016. This is how we know that they spent £21,000 on a stage and £3,000 on entertaining guests. The following article is, I think, fantastic as it highlights the costs involved in organising a great festival. Is it too late to nominate South Tyneside council for council of the year?
You can follow me on my Youtube channel: every week an interview with an event expert.
Are you using Snapchat for your event? Why not? Launched in 2011, Snapchat wasn't taken seriously. Just another social media platform. However, the company has been growing steadily and more and more people have started using Snapchat. Including event planners.
Snap Inc. is planning to bring Snapchat to the stockmarket which could value the company at $30 billion. I guess they're doing quite okay then... The New York Times wrote a great piece about Snapchat a few weeks ago: How Snapchat Revolutionised Social Networks.
Event planners! If you are not using Snapchat yet you might want to look into it. Snapchat is a fantastic tool that allows you to engage with your event attendees. You can read how you can use it for your event in this article: It's a Snap! from Associations Now.
Do check out my Youtube channel: every week a new interview with an event professional!
It’s almost 2017! So what are the event trends for the New Year? What will be different, or change, or revolutionise the events industry?
Whether you call them trends or expectations, it doesn’t really matter. Most event professionals seem to agree that event technology will become a bigger part of your event planning process. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are also hot favourites. Oh, and of course data… Not sure if that is a trend though. I think ‘big data’ has already been with us for a few years and, yes, the events industry will continue to utilise it in 2017.
The first one to publish their trends and predictions was Eventbrite UK. You can read their predictions here: Event trends that will shape your 2017! Over 50 event professionals tell you what they think will be a trend to look out for in the New Year. Most predictions lean towards: event technology, data usage, and virtual reality.
The Event Managers Blog produced a fantastic booklet 10 Event Trends For 2017. It’s actually more than 10 trends as they divided it into four categories: event technology, event design, venue management, and social media. You can read more about how the sharing economy will impact the events industry, about touchable tech at events, and on-site creation. One of my favourite predictions is Drone Streaming! You can read more about drone streaming and drone selfies at events here.
Music festivals in 2017
The Conversation is taking a different angle as they speculate whether large outdoor festivals will be a thing of the past. Smaller, more niche, or boutique festivals might be more a 2017-thing. The article refers to T in the Park, quite a large outdoor music festival, as a festival that seeks to take steps towards a smaller set-up. You can read the article Are Giant Music Festivals At The End Of The Road? here.
My 2017 event trend
And my prediction? With over 7,000 outdoor events each year the UK has one of the most buoyant festival markets in the world. Buoyant and crowded. I think we will see a rise of smaller, more intimate, and more sustainably oriented festivals in the UK.
This prediction is based on a trend we see in America. There, so-called transformational music festivals have established themselves as a unique, experiential and educational alternative to large festivals. The creativity (of venue layout, structures etc.) at transformational festivals is quite often top-notch. People want a unique experience when they visit a festival, a festival that they feel part of. These events seem to offer just that hence I think we will see more smaller and attendee-focussed festivals.
Happy 2017! You can follow me on Youtube: Every week an interview with an event expert.
A few weeks ago I taught sustainable event management to a group of students. Very quickly we were talking about different waste streams, how many tents have been left behind at music festivals this year, and why bins aren’t emptied regularly. The thing is though… sustainability is much more than just the environment.
It makes sense though to think of waste streams when you hear about sustainable event management. It’s what we can see; it’s what we can touch. But event organisers should place equal emphasis on the social and economics aspects of sustainability, according to a report from Positive Impact.
What that means is that on a social level you look at the impact your event has on the local community. Whether you can educate and raise awareness among your audience about certain issues and, for example, health and safety regulations at your event. The list goes on but these are just some concerns you can think of.
From an economic point of view you need to treat your event as a business so you want a positive ROI as you want your event to succeed and grow. You can be very aware of the environment but if your event doesn’t make any money there’s no longevity. And what is the added value of your event to the [local] economy? There are some great examples here and here.
Technology can also help your event when pursuing sustainable event management. At Event Tech Live I only had to scan my badge at stands to receive more information, rather than them handing out promotional items. Collecting data instead of waste… win-win!
Last week I was a guest lecturer at a college here in Brighton. My lecture was about the story of an event. How that storyline helps you as an event organiser to convey your message to your audience. I used a transformational festival as an example.
The students weren't really familiar with the term transformational festival. Jeet Kei Lung explains in his TedX Talk that a transformational festival provides a "content rich reality that features a high density of quality interactions. Festival attendees are participants and co-creators of the experience". Think Burning Man and you get the idea.
Now what does that mean? At these festivals it is all about community building, about learning and self-development, about social consciousness, about eating healthy, about creativity. Honestly, the creativity at these festivals is mind blowing! It might sound to you as a bunch of hippies gathering in a field but that's not necessarily true. The locations for these festivals are carefully chosen and the people attending are from all walks of life.
I've been lucky enough to attend transformational festivals like Lightning in a Bottle and Symbiosis Gathering. Both are taking place on the west coast of America, currently the hotbed for such festivals.
Is there room for such festivals in the UK? I think so.
You can subscribe to my Youtube channel. Every Sunday an interview with an event expert. Coming soon: my interview with Dede Flemming from Lightning in a Bottle.
Earlier this year Adele asked her fans to put phones away and enjoy the gig in real life. Not sure how many of them actually did exactly do that but I can see where see is coming from. Somewhere during the summer months I read an article about digital detoxing. People who make a conscious decision to go off grid for a while.
Turns out that a third of British internet users have tried this digital detox, according to a report from Ofcom. Now, I'm not ready for a complete detox yet but since the start of 2016 I no longer have the Facebook app on my phone.... too addictive. Am I a better person for it? Not really but I do look less at my phone, which was my main reason.
How will this work for festivals? Fans want to be connected. They get annoyed when there's no wifi and want to post on Facebook and Instagram instantly. A good festival provides escapism. So isn't a festival a perfect opportunity for someone's digital detox?
Some festivals are tapping into this market. Unplugged Festival and Off Grid Festival are two examples of UK festivals that allow people to switch off from the online world. And they are successful festivals. I guess festival organisers have to make choices...
Social media or social experience? Let's see if the trend continues.
You can subscribe to my Youtube channel: every Sunday an interview with an event expert!
Earlier this month I was at Event Tech Live in London. A conference of sorts but actually more a showcase of new event technology ideas. One of the areas at the conference was dedicated to startups who could pitch their company to potential investors. My favourite stage!
Some ideas seem to already be out there, like that company that looked a lot like a new version of Eventbrite. But the majority of the ideas pitched were really good, really innovative, and generally inspired me. They offered solutions to problems they had faced in the event industry.
Perhaps you're walking around with some new innovative ideas as well. For example a problem you ran into at your last festival and you actually found a solution for it.
Earlier this year Startacus published this blog post about how to stand out with your new product when at music festivals. It's not the same as the products pitched at the conference but it might inspire you either way.
Would you like to be inspired on a weekly basis? Subscribe to my YouTube channel, every Sunday a new interview with an event expert.
Working as a project manager for the International Centre for Crowd Management & Security Studies I have seen some 'interesting' approaches to health and safety regulations at events and festivals.
From incomplete front of stage barriers to overflowing toilets and anything in between. In the early 2000s I was involved in rewriting the licensing for a large festival after an incoherent event management plan (and consequent acting on it) lead to audience members being hospitalised. As an event planner you need to avoid these kind of mistakes. After all, we are talking about the health, safety and well-being of your audience.
But what do you do when you have to organise an event in a country where violent attacks happen. Meredith Pallante wrote an interesting article about how she organised the security for an event held in Israel. You can read the article here.
For more information about health and safety aspects at events you can visit my YouTube channel where you can find my FREE course in event safety.
Rocking the Daisies took place last weekend. This South African festival has been promoting sustainability since its inception. Craig Bright and Brian Little have been building the festival over the last decade. In January this year they gave an interview to South Africa's Entrepreneur Magazine. An interview every aspiring event planner should read. You can read the article here.
To get an overview of what sustainable event management means for Rocking the Daisies you should read the article from BizCommunity. The article provides a great overview of the festival's sustainable initiatives. I hope these initiatives will inspire you!