Technology has completely changed how we work, travel, socialize, and even what we do in our free time. We humans depend on technology a lot and it has made almost all of our routine activities and tasks easier. The UK event management industry is growing at a very high pace and there are a lot of areas where technology already plays a vital role yet there is a lot more room for it to revolutionize the industry.
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.
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.
This year's festival season might be over but some of us are already getting ready for 2017. Earlier this week we were told that Glastonbury Festival 2017 sold out within one hour. Talking about getting ready for next year.... Pretty amazing!
Whichever festival you go to, make sure you plan it properly. Part of that planning process is to start talking to your friends about how to stay safe at festivals. What is your plan to look after yourself and your friends?
The Upcoming is giving you some great safety tips when attending gigs and music festivals. You can read the article here.
Event technology company Social Tables has secured another $15 million in funding. Social Tables provides innovative solutions to handle complex event problems (like check-in procedures, seating planning, etc). The company is said to use the investment for " a broader set of event industry challenges".
Here the article about Social Tables.
How difficult can it be to provide a clear and easy to understand layout of your event site? It’s almost as if some conferences and exhibitions have become such mammoths that even the event organiser is losing track of what is going on. Event planners need to keep their audience in mind when designing the site and the layout of the site.
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!