Festivals should focus on throwing the absolute best festival!

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 or 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.


4.6 million people are live streaming music festivals: an untapped market

Over 800 music festivals take place in the USA each year. About 32 million people visit these festivals. That's a lot. But it gets even better (and bigger). 

23% of the social media buzz surrounding these events comes from people that aren't even attending these festivals. It comes from people sitting at home watching it on their computer or mobile devices. Now how can you tap into that market? Here a great article from Hypebot

What to think of when organising an Oktoberfest

It's October which means it is time for Oktoberfest! Actually the most important Oktoberfest, the one in Munich in Germany, took place in September. But you get my drift. The world's biggest Oktoberfest generates a whopping €1.3 billion for the region. Of that €189 million is spent on beer.

If you're thinking of organising an Oktoberfest than you might want to read the 6 tips that Eventbrite have put together. It gives you six handy tips for planning an amazing beer festival. And guess what, it's not just about the beer!

W hotels is entering the music festival market

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.

Increase Attendee Experience with Social Media

Increase Attendee Experience with Social Media

You probably already have a digital presence, but you need to make sure it’s the right one. You know the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”? That stands true with having too many social media accounts. By stretching yourself thin the content gets diluted and engagement opportunities fall through the gap. Only use the channels where your target audience are listening and conversing. 

Your event is an experience

Week 3 of #EventTutorTips

Yes, an event should be an experience. Your audience wants to be entertained. Look at it this way: you do not go to a Britney Spears concert because of her voice. You go for the show, the entertainment. You know her songs but her performances need a show element to make it worthwhile. To make people talk about it.

I’m not saying your event is as mediocre as Britney Spears but more often than not an event needs more than just an act (singer, speaker, product) on a stage. You need something that people will engage with. Something they want to talk about. Offer your guests something more than what they've paid for.

It is difficult to explain what an experience exactly is. Northern Nights Music Festival is a young festival organised at the most beautiful location. That location offers an experience. At Lightning in a Bottle there are art installation all over the event site. The art offers an experience.

An event experience depends per event, per location, per event organisation, and per audience. So, is your event like a Britney Spears concert without dancers or backup singers? You can do better!

Find out about the #EventTutorTips UK competition on my Facebook and Twitter channels.

4 questions to ask yourself about sponsors and your event

4 questions to ask yourself about sponsors and your event

Should an alcohol brand be allowed to sponsor an event or a festival? Heineken sponsors Formula One, the US Open, and golf tournaments. Meanwhile Jamie Oliver wants to stop Coca Cola and McDonalds from sponsoring the Olympics. In the past BP has been criticized for sponsoring the Edinburgh International Festival. Oil and art don’t always mix well. So how do you find the right sponsor for your event?

5 things to research when planning your event

5 things to research when planning your event

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. 

The added value of sponsorship at festivals

The added value of sponsorship at festivals

The festival season is upon us! In America alone more than 800 festivals will take place this festival season. Last year in the UK more than 14 million people attended a festival. This number is said to rise in 2016. With such audience numbers companies might be keen to sponsor music festivals. Except when you are BP, than you are not so keen anymore on sponsoring live events.

Why do market vendors at music festivals always sell the same stuff?

Why do market vendors at music festivals always sell the same stuff?

Oh come on! Surely I'm not the only one who has never been bowled over by the amazing assortment of market stalls at a music festival? Or perhaps it is just me. Either way, as an event planner you have a say in what comes onto your event site. And you can write that down in your vendor policy.