Festival organisers are tasked with hosting a music or arts event, typically over the course of several days.
They have to book the artists, market themselves, organise paperwork and permits, handle logistics of how to get people in and out of the festival site safely, etc.
It’s an enormous undertaking that can go wrong in so many ways. Most festivals do pretty well but some are marred by problems before they’ve even started – here are the top five mistakes made when organising a festival.
1. Poor Marketing
The biggest mistake is not promoting your festival enough or not promoting it in the right way. Having an appropriate event marketing strategy is vital, or your festival will fail.
You need to let people know when you’re having your event and where it will be held because if no-one knows about it, they can’t come to it.
As well as this, you need to make sure that your marketing follows your brand strategy, as marketing material is usually the first thing that potential festival-goers see of your festival. If you’re organising a rock festival, but the branding screams ‘pop’ then you’re likely to attract the wrong crowd.
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that no publicity is good publicity, but promoting an event successfully means investing time and money, for example on flyers, posters, social media posts etc.
Many festivals choose to hire a digital marketing agency to deal with their marketing, which takes a lot of pressure off of the promoters’ shoulders. All a marketing agency would need was a clear vision of how the festival is looking to promote itself, and then they can continue on with their work.
2. Choosing The Wrong Venue
Choosing where your festival will be held is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make as a festival organiser. You need somewhere that has enough space for all the stalls and stages, plus space for people to move around in without getting too crowded or running into each other.
If there aren’t any hotels close by, then it may be very difficult for anyone who wants to stay over at your festival – so not having enough available accommodation could also affect whether people decide to come or not.
Quickly deciding that your local sports field is the best place for a festival is an easy mistake to make, and it could mean you’ll have to start all over again and quickly!
3. Forgetting About Facilities
Facilities are important because people need somewhere to eat, drink and go to the toilet – they want somewhere safe and comfortable where they don’t feel like they’re going to be ripped off and can recharge their batteries with food and refreshments.
Different festivals attract different kinds of people so having toilets, charging points and places for parents with babies is essential as well as decent places for those who want to grab a snack between bands on stage.
Knowing how many portable toilets per person is required is essential, as well as making sure that there are plenty of bars and food service venues to ensure queues don’t go on for miles.
4. Going Over Budget
If you want an event that people will remember for years to come then the chances are that the costs aren’t going to be very predictable – there’s no way of knowing what kind of things might happen (from acts cancelling last minute to bad weather), so it’s important not to run out of money before everything is finished and dusted.
Getting started on organising your festival by asking people for sponsorship could help but make sure you know how much cash you’ve got first before getting carried away.
Hiring a bookkeeping assistant/service will help you ensure that you always have plenty of money, as well as allow you to track transactions more accurately.
5. Mis-use Of Technology
Technology has changed many things in life, including how we look for information about events that interest us, where to buy tickets and how we visit venues whilst they are hosting events.
Without using this technology to your advantage when planning a festival, it’s likely that your festival will fall behind others.
There are many technological advances that have been made to make festivals and events easier to attend and manage. For example, touchless visitor management systems have been introduced to events, as well as the introduction of the likes of body scanners and security systems.
It’s easy to think that using some of the technology available would always be helpful, but it’s important not to rely on everything working for you – if network providers fail then there could be nobody able to buy tickets at all, meaning you’ve wasted time and money.
To conclude, while organising a festival is a big undertaking, it’s not an impossible task if you think carefully about what you need and how to do it.
The five most common mistakes made when organising a festival are poor marketing, choosing the wrong venue, forgetting about facilities, going over budget and misuse of technology. Make sure you avoid these mistakes by carrying out research into your location, lining up the best acts possible from day one and making sure that people can get into your event and know where they’re going once they arrive.
Research thoroughly before committing yourself to use any kind of technology – don’t rely on everything working because there could be nobody at your festival!
Guest post by Dan Reves @ D-tox Group