There are different aspects involved in making an event a success, and they are planning ahead of time, budget, bringing together a great team, great marketing skills, involving latest technology such as user-friendly interface, logistics, catering, security, photography, cleaning, welfare, etc.
I went to Tokyo Disneyland. It was on my bucket list and as it is my last time in this grand city the decision to go was an easy one. Already on the train there I spotted several people in complete Disney gear. It made me wonder why people dress up like that. It’s not just Disney. You see the same at events like Comic Con and also at festivals. People like to go out of their way to dress up.
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.
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.
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!
Event planners should take health & safety aspects at their events very serious. Most of them do this already. As part of the licensing requirements event planners need to create (and implement) a risk assessment. Accidents still happen though.
The following article discusses the risks of amusement rides at events. The article starts out with some gruesome examples but I guess that brings home the message.
Kevin Moore works in risk management services in America and has written this article about event safety issues for the Kentucky Forward.
Glasgow Oktoberfest has been cancelled as the organisation didn't get a licence. The festival was said to take place on the 19th of October but due to an argument over the correct licences it has had to cancel the event.
There were concerns over safety issues, according to Glasgow Licensing Board. On the website of Glasgow Oktoberfest it says that they will be back next year. To be continued...
You can read the article here.
A hotel chain that is organising a music festival? W-Hotels gave it a try, according to this Forbes article, and did a good job.
So how does it work? Apparently it was a "100% W experience". Although I'm not 100% sure what that exactly means. But W did manage to fill the hotel on a normally quiet weekend, making the festival a marketing tool for the hotel business. Interesting.
At the festival site no queues for the stand where I had to change my ticket for a wristband. Long queues however for the merchandise stand that was next to it. Surprisingly there was no security to check my bags. I only had show my wristbands and I could walk onto the campsite. I can’t make up my mind whether this is a good thing or not. Let’s just say I was surprised.
The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday (again) this coming weekend. Turns out that when you are the Queen you have two birthdays. Apparently, the one being celebrated this coming weekend is the one where neighbourhoods come together for barbeques and street parties. Street parties might require street closures. Some even need risk assessments.
Finding out what people like to eat when they’re drinking lager with their mates might not sound like useful data. But I for one think that the info in this report is really interesting. Visitors would like free WiFi when at a festival. And phone charging facilities. Seems like quite obvious requests, right? So why do they still request it? Why do festivals not provide it? I think event planners can use this report to get inspired.
Are festivals the new nightclubs? Do people prefer to go to festivals several times a year instead of going out every week? Festival tickets are not cheap either nor are the drinks or the food. But people have the feeling they get more for their money. You can see dozens of acts, hang out with your friends, and meet new people. It is an experience!
What if we allow testing kits at the festival and a visitor has given us his pill to be tested. The test comes back and says it is okay for consumption. Turns out that the test didn’t work properly. What happens if that person dies as a result of taking that pill? Who is than responsible? Can someone be held responsible? Is it the event organizer? Is the festivalgoer? Is it the person testing? Is the licensor? Who if anyone?