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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I’ve once organised a festival that wanted to cater for everyone. It had a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And when you want to cater for everyone, problems arise. One of the problems was that no one could identify with the event concept. It taught me an expensive lesson: know the purpose of your event.
As an event manager you’re in charge of planning, producing and organising an experience. You are bringing concepts to life. At certain points you are in charge of hundreds, if not thousands, of people working at your event. You are not only in charge; you are also responsible for their safety and their well-being. Event planners are not only project managers. They are hard working go-getters who make it look as if anyone can do it. And that’s when people realise that being an event planner is an actual job. So, what makes a good event planner?