10 Tips to Keep Your Festival Attendees Entertained (and Happy!)
It’s all about the attendees! When it comes to impressing your festival-goers, the details of each event have the ability to leave a lasting impression with all parties involved (looking at you, sponsors!).
With the amount of festivals your guests attend, you have to make your event stand out. Give the people what they want, whether they know what that is or not! Here’s how you confidently put down the vibe your looking to have picked up.
1. Provide Entertainment While They Wait
Let the good times roll! And don’t let them stop. My dad used to always say to me as a child, “Only boring people get bored,” in rebuttal to my cries of boredom. Thanks, dad. Anywho, the fact is, with the ease/portability of entertainment these days, your festival needs to captivate every second of the day. No one enjoys waiting in lines, but, we’ve all been there. Waiting on that beer or grilled cheese shouldn’t have to be any more painful than it already is. Entertain them!
- Mingling entertainers create a fun, interactive experience for your attendees.
- Live stream the event for non-attendees and also broadcast it to your attendees while in the venue.
- Add entertainment to your food and beverage service: the provisions and/or the personnel delivering the goods. Performing waiters or professional mixologists can be a delightful distraction!
2. Go Viral
People love social media because it provides a platform to casually brag. For you, the event manager, you get free marketing–yay! Additionally, broadcasting the event will never leave your attendees to wonder what is happening on the other side of the venue. Live streaming the festivities has the ability to wrangle in those who may have been on the fence that year and eventually gave in to #adulting
- Broadcast the event so your attendees don’t have to miss a thing. Also, live stream the event for non-attendees to watch; get them excited to attend the following year!
- Your guests will want to post an event if it is worthy. Free advertising!
- Spend time creating and implementing an effective marketing strategy.
3. Cater to Your Audience
In the restaurant business, if you remember a guest’s name, they are much more likely to choose your establishment again. During festival season, this name game may not be possible but studying your audience will increase the likelihood of you providing those personal touches. Your attendees will feel like they are coming home to an old friend! Speaking of, this study should also include what your attendees don’t want, as to be certain you avoid a mishap.
- It’s all fun and games until you offend someone. Study your demographic.
- Use social media insights or Google analytics to evaluate your guests.
- Pre-plan surveys to find out what your attendees want.
Make It Memorable:
4. Consider the Attendee’s Journey
Blood, sweat, and tears: festivals are worth it all! Reward your attendees for their laborious efforts. Once these party-people enter the gates of your venue, their brains should be granted permission to shut off! Make this possible with clear directions and all the small details arranged.
- From camping to hotel accommodations, make the arrival seamless (and, therefore, pleasantly memorable) for your guests.
- Bring the culture from the host city inside to your guests. From street carts to live art performances, make your festival-goers believe they have explored outside the venue’s gates.
- Make it a celebration! Rides, interactive art, yoga, funky after-hours events, etc. Immerse your attendees in fun!
5. Create a Theme
A theme can transform a basic music festival into a magical wonderland that your attendees will crave every year! I’m partial to festivals that incorporate their attendees into the theme. How can you get your guests involved? Tapping into that child-like spirit is highly underrated! Go big.
- Keep the theme consistent throughout the event.
- Be original but authentic.
- Get your attendees involved in your theme! Think art installation that incorporates your audience.
6. Have a Surprise for Your Guests
Like a child on Christmas, you never forget a good surprise! I might even argue that those who claim to hate surprises actually have a slight fondness for them. The surprise doesn’t have to be loud noises and bright lights, it can be something as simple a clean showers.
- Don’t give away all the details of your festival.
- Massage chairs, free yoga, or bounce houses can leave a lasting impression on your attendees.
- Make the whole event about more than just music. Make it a lifestyle.
Construct An Innovative Event:
7. But Not Too Innovative
If your festival fairies are coming back for round two, there is probably something from their first experience that resonated with them. While you want to be innovative, you also want to remain loyal to your attendees by carrying over essentials from the previous year.
- Include previous themes but add a twist every year.
- Don’t worry about the competition. Worry about building the perfect atmosphere for your festival.
- Be mindful not to fall victim to trends. Be unique.
8. Get Attendees Excited, Even If That Means Spending Money
Lights, cameras, ACTION! Make it rain entertainment! Especially in the age of technology where we are constantly entertained, keeping your attendees excited about participating in your festival’s happenings leaves them wanting more! Money doesn’t buy happiness but it sure can buy an unforgettable experience!
- Experiences are worth more than material possession. Get your attendees to believe in this mentality!
- What can your attendees take home with them? Get creative! Photo booths, free t-shirts, a broken wrist (just kidding!).
- Inspire your audience. Survey attendees for the music they would like to hear or activities they’d like to experience. Allow attendees to personalize the festival!
9. Incorporate Relevant Technology
How many times have you attended a festival and been disappointed in ATM fees or a vendor not accepting a card? Or witnessed a mind-blowing stage design? I bet you didn’t soon forget it. Wow your attendee’s senses with innovative technology!
- Stay updated on tech trends to help your festival stand out.
- No budget too little. Research affordable options!
- RFID bracelets (No cash? No problem!) and virtual reality are a few of the many ways you can transform your event.
10. Give Back to the Community
Entertainment will naturally make for a memorable experience, but leaving the place better than you found it by way of humanitarian efforts could greatly improve your festival’s image. Showcase your event in a positive way. While festivals may conjure a certain demographic, many attendees actually care about acts of service.
- Collaborate with charities or bring in vendors that showcase local charities.
- Make a portion of ticket sales go to a good cause. Not-for-profit is the new black!
- Have a plan B. What would you do if your festival was cancelled last minute (see “Phish Curveball”)?