How to reduce queues during festivals

HELLO

Festivals are becoming bigger and bigger every day; some good examples are Coachella, Tomorrowland, Mawazine etc., which are hosting hundred of thousands of guests every festival. The festivals are getting upgraded while their popularity is increasing. Organizers are bringing only A list artists, increasing the number of stages, accommodating more attractions and partners; the overall experience is getting better and better every year.

Festivals are becoming bigger every year but their are also increasing their prices accordingly

Not only the festivals are getting bigger, additionally they are becoming more expansive too. Guests spend between 50 to 500 euro to attend such kind of event and their expectations have increased exponentially. Most of the crowd which is attending festivals is composed of Millennials which consider that experiences are more important than things.

In this times, when people appreciate experiences more rather than valuables, it is important to do everything possible to fulfill this need and create a flawless and remarkable experiences.

The most recurring issues that usually arises within festivals is queuing; nobody likes to waste their time waiting in line, however it always happens.

The lines can’t be 100% avoided, though, there are a few practices which will reduce them considerably.

One of the most popular practice which is becoming rapidly adopted by most of the festivals are the NFC wristbands. Through the NFC wristbands, event planners are trying to offer a higher event experience making it more convenient, secure and transparent.

Visitors can top-up money on their wristbands at any point of the event, pay without queuing in lines – everything just with a simple tap while event organizers benefit of transparency and complete control with real time reports over all sales.

The wristband is synced with a specific ticket category which allows the visitors to access all their designated areas more easily and if entitled receive perks such as T-shirts, free drinks, etc.

Additionally with the help of the NFC chip, the wristband can be used to create a new level of interactions, such as: Treasure Hunts and challenges, rate favorite products or shows, save playlists, check geolocation etc.

Since 2015 the NFC integrated wristbands started to become popular within the events’ world. If back then guests were complaining about wristbands’ failures which left them unable to buy food or drinks, today they do work smoothly and are reducing considerably the queue.

No more queue for food and drinks, but how about the registration process. When attendees arrive at the event, they need to change their ticket into the NFC wristband. Unfortunately most of the attendees are complaining having to stay a few hours in line to get their wristband; it is of course a big turn-off, when the pre-event excitement is killed by a huge waiting time.

Trying to be on-top of the situation, event planners are already finding solutions to combat this huge registration lines.

Event planners are always trying to find solutions to reduce queue

Big events(e.g., Coachella) are shipping the NFC wristband directly to guests, right after the ticket is purchased. Guests receive precise instructions which they need to follow in order to configure their wristband from home. Also when arriving at the event’s premises, it is mandatory to have it already attached around their right wrist. In this way, guests can enter directly, without having to stay in line to do their registration. This practice turned out to be successful and diminishing the lines considerably.

The NFC wristbands represent an important milestone in the process of reducing queues within festivals

What are the biggest benefits when using the NFC wristbands?

  • Visitors tend to spend 15-30%more
  • Speeds up purchases & reduces queues
  • Minimize cash handling
  • Captures all sales and audience insights
  • Control and transparency
  • More interaction within the event

It is interesting how in a short period of time so many uses have been found for the NFC chips. With the use of a simple chip, attendees can do almost everything with it. Their Social Media profile can be synchronized and all their data stored and access after the event. An NFC wristband is the only thing you need in order to attend a festival. No need to worry for your wallet, money or mobile phone, you only need to be worried of not having enough fun.

Events need sponsorship. Learn how to approach your future partners

Money is not the most important thing in life. The same goes for the event management scene: all the money in the world won’t guarantee that you’ll offer your guests the best experience. On the other hand, we must admit that money is an important asset when organizing events (conferences, festivals or concerts, it counts less). Those who have experience on their side know that there are two important aspects when looking at your cash-flow: smart tools (that give you instant access to ticket revenue) and sponsors. Obviously, there’s also the money that you are investing, but that’s a separate thing. And today I want to share with you some tips on how to do a better job when seeking (and negotiating) sponsorship for your next event.

Sponsors blog

There are different types of sponsorships, like cash sponsorship, media sponsorship, barter, and these ideas are useful for all; but initially, cash sponsorship stuck out.

*Disclaimer – I pinned down these ideas after a discussion with a friend of mine, a friend who’s job is to decide which events her company will sponsor and why.

 

1. Start with market research

It’s not easy to get sponsors for your event (that’s if you don’t have them crowding at your door steps already). And I assume that you don’t want to waste precious time with companies that wouldn’t sponsorship your event (there are many reasons for which someone would sponsor you, but there are also reasons for which it wouldn’t – and it’s not personal). It’s better to research which organizations sponsored which events and try to understand why. Look for:
-events similar to yours and the companies that offered sponsorship
-new companies that are trying to make themselves known (companies that offer small sponsorship to a large number of events)
-new companies that are trying to penetrate new (geographic or demographic) markets
-entities with the same set of values as yours (like Ted and Rolex for example, both treasuring time)

 

2. Your approach counts

Imagine these 2 different scenarios:
a. You receive an email from a stranger claiming that he organizes a conference that offers you the perfect chance to get brand recognition and leads. Although she/he has a nice proposal you find out this is the first edition of the event, meaning that the whole thing involves some level of risk.
b. Your friend calls you to invite you to a 3-way lunch: you two plus his/her former colleague that now owns an event planning business. And guess what: right now they are working on a conference that would offer you the perfect opportunity for fresh leads and brand recognition. Plus it’s their first edition so you can even negotiate a long-term partnership at a lower cost.
In which scenario do you think you would be more willing to sponsor the conference (assuming that there are no major differences between the two of them).
Fair or not, it’s also important how you get to present your offer. Before cold-calling, see if there are no common friends that can introduce you to that organization/person.

 

3. Get your numbers straight

If your event isn’t in its first edition you should be able to easily answer the popular questions about your attendees. Organizations willing to sponsor you are trying to get visible to certain categories of potential clients/stakeholders, so they will be interested to see some demographics. If you used the right access management tools (that track check in, cashless payments, interactions etc.) for your previous events you will have all data stored and ready to be used; If this is the first edition you should present your (very realistic) expectations, and also be ready to uphold them with solid arguments. Will you provide brand recognition and/or leads?

 

4.There are more layers of involvement

And I’m not referring to your gold, platinum, and adamantium sponsorship packages (which, to be honest, are kind of out-of-date). I’m talking about how a company may look at you: as a one-time deal (sponsor) or a long-time partnership. And this is why it’s crucial to do your homework before you go out and meet the ones that hold the financial resources. If you approach a company that has the same values as your event there are greater chances to get yourself with a new long time partner.
P.S. the layer of involvement may depend on the department that you approach; people from PR & Communication are interested in a sponsorship that brings quick results, the CSR department is interested in a partnership that can consolidate the company’s position as an important social player (a long-term goal).

 

5. It’s not all about you

Dale Carnegie once said (and I quote): “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. When someone accepts to meet and discuss a sponsorship it means that they see potential in a future collaboration. Listen, see what motivates them and which are your common points of interest, and your chances of getting a new sponsor/partner will increase dramatically.

 

5bis. Listen. Listen. Listen

This part is connected with the one above but I kept them separated because I wanted to highlight something: it’s more than possible that your future-to-be sponsor/partner knows better than you which are the needs that can be filled with your help (but you must see how). This is why I think that your sponsorship standard packages are out of date and you should always be willing to listen to what your possible partners have to say; maybe you offer a 25.000 $ sponsorship package (that includes signage and media coverage) to someone willing to sponsor you with 50.000 $ if you implement their workshop into your event. Be open-minded, otherwise you will lose many great opportunities.

 
Funding is crucial and we all know that great partners are hard to find, so you should always show interest in your partner’s goals. After the whole thing is over meet with them and review the event: see if they have accomplished their goals, if there were any problems or new ideas. Your interest will show that you are willing to put in the work that’s necessary when building a long time relation.

5 events that gathered more people than expected

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“Be careful what you wish for”, states an old saying. That’s probably because we have a habit of not preparing for what we wish for, but this is just my opinion. After taking a good look at the event management scene I observed that #eventprofs tend to wish some things more than others. Of course, every event is unique, but there are some frequent desires that you can’t overlook.

One of these wishes is to create a meaningful event that will enrich the lives of those taking part. Another desire is that people actually take part in they events, and it’s perfectly normal; you want people to enjoy something that involved commitment and hard work (this is why we wanted to help and published an article about how you can use Snapchat and Instagram to promote your event).

The question that inspired this piece is “are there ever too many people at an event?” (and I wasn’t considering political or religious events). Then I started documenting sports and entertainment events where the crowds exceeded expectations. There are many events that gathered enormous crowds and unfortunately not all of there are “happy-ending stories”. Today I want to share with you 5 of them that caught my attention (I really can’t tell why these ones and not others, and I hope you will find these cases as interesting as I did).

Be prepared. Attendance can exceed the expectations

1994, Rio de Janeiro. Officials from Rio wanted a big event that would help tourism re-flourish. Rod Stewart’s new year’s eve concert and the midnight fireworks gathered over 4.000.000 people on the famous Copacabana Beach (according to Guinness World Records; others say that there were about 3.500.000 people on the beach, but it’s hard to have an exact number in these circumstances). Just think that Croatia ( a Central European country) has a little over 4.000.000 citizens and you will truly understand the size of that crowd. I think it’s safe to say that the crowd exceeded the organizer’s expectations.

1988, East Berlin. It seems that only half of the nearly 300.000 people that gathered for Bruce Springsteen’s concert actually bought a ticket. Millions watched it on public television. Authorities understood that it was almost impossible to stop over a quarter of a million people that were storming the gates so everyone had the chance to see the live performance (ticket or no ticket). There’s a myth that every east-german between the ages of 18 and 45 saw the concert – live or on TV. What would you have done in a similar situation?

1950, Rio de Janeiro. 173,850 spectators paid to see Brazil against Uruguay in the World Cup’s Final, but rumors are that almost 210.000 people crammed into Maracana on that day of July. It was the first World Cup event after 1938 (the Second World War canceled the 1942 and 1946 editions). Everyone was so sure that Brazil will win that they even composed a new song…”Brasil Os Vencedores” (Brazil the Winner), ready to be played right after the final whistle. Brazil lost 2-1 that day and that great crowd was reduced to silence.  Alcides Ghiggia, the scorer of Uruguay’s winning goal, once said: “Only three people silenced Maracana: the Pope, Frank Sinatra and me”.

1979, Great Britain. The Knebworth Festival brought Led Zeppelin back in England after 4 years and also brought a large number of people to the venue situated near the village of Knebworth. There was a dispute about the number of attendees and the two involved parties came out with two different opinions: 104.000 (tickets sold) vs over 200.000 (attendees). This is how I found out that at a concert an acre accommodates about 3000 people (a useful information for someone involved in the event management business). Today a RFID wristband would count every single attendee while you take a nap.

2013, Russia. Rock on Volga festival gathered almost 700.000 in 2013 when the German band Rammstein was the main headliner. Known as one of the largest one-day festivals in the world, Rock on Volga stunned everyone by (almost) doubling its size from one year to another. A rise in attendance numbers was expected but the crowd gathered to see Rammstein was beyond anyone’s imagination (I noticed that Russians tend to enjoy rock concerts more than others, there are a few concerts that gathered really spectacular crowds).   

The world changes, and although technology makes it easier for us manage big events, it’s becoming harder and harder to gather such large crowds (although not impossible). There is a little bit of romance in this stories, but there are also many security issues. Unfortunate history taught us that accidents may occur and that large crowds are hard to manage so if you are planning a big event, learn from the past and prepare for the unexpected. Great crowds are a bliss, but you have to be ready to manage them.

How to Rock Your Event with Snapchat and Instagram

I suppose that until now, we are all familiar with Snapchat and Instagram and how they became an essential tool in event marketing.

these sparks between us will

Even though Snapchat is losing market share since the launch of Instagram’s stories, it seems that the two are slowly taking different directions regarding the market segmentation and the user’s behavior while using the app. Instagram’s users are mainly over 24 years old and spend around 15 min a day browsing while 60% of Snapchat’s users are under 24 years old and spend an average of 30 min per day creating content. (Read more)

While Instagram is great in bringing awareness of an event within their 600 Million user base, Snapchat is perfect to create content and especially post event marketing material.

In this article I am going to talk about what are the best practices and uses of both Snapchat’s and Instagram’s stories.

How can you make use of the Stories in order to promote your event?

Like any other event we have three main phases: Pre-event marketing, Live marketing and Post-event marketing;

Pre-event marketing

  • Provide a sneak peak and Teaser – this is a great way to keep your audience intrigued and interested in your event while creating awareness within the possible attendees.
  • Create behind-the-scenes content – there’s nothing wrong about letting followers know about the hard work you and your team have put in creating this event. From the engineers who helped put everything in place –  to the artists doing their rehearsals, this will only make your audience feel more excited and included.
  • Overtake the Snapchat or Instagram account – it is a common trend that  a celebrity takes over a brand’s account for a limited period of time. Their main purpose is to showcase the event from their own perspective while offering valuable insights for their followers.
  • Incorporate location; based Geofilter and animated graphics that pertain to the event – Geofilters are available only on Snapchat and can be created or customized for your event; but keep in mind that this should be done ahead of time since they need a few days to be approved.

Live Marketing

  • Encourage Attendees to Use Snapchat’s and Instagram’s Stories – this represents the most important step in Live Marketing. It means bringing awareness, motivating and offering incentives to your audience in order to create content.
  • For both Instagram and Snapchat you should create centralized crowd-sourcing stories  and hashtags where your attendees can send all off their photos and videos.
  • Cross-promote your Snapchat’s and Instagram’s account – don’t forget to create a snapcode!
  • Create event and location hashtags so that your users can add them to their posts.
  • Snapchat’s geofilters are a big yes-yes – it is important to have it ready for when the event starts. The geofilter is like a stamp. A stamp which has to say your event’s story at one glance. It’s a stamp that your attendees should want to integrate in all of their Snaps.
  • Encourage celebrities to post behind-the-scenes content – everybody is curious about what is happening behind the scenes, how everything is organized and how the celebrities are getting prepared. Satisfy this thirst of curiosity by encouraging celebrities to post by themselves.
  • Respond to individual inquiries – when live streaming, in order to show your audience that you care about them, randomly answer some of their inquires. It is a small thing but it can bring a lot of satisfaction and loyalty.

Post-event marketing

  • Curate the content sent by participants – the content created by your attendees is Gold. Especially the content created with the use of Snapchat. The photos and videos created through Snapchat, will definitely bring an added value because of the different features the app has to offer; from editing tools, filters, animated filters and Geofilters the outcome of the content created is going to be unique. Receiving so much content from so many people and perspectives will definitely help create fun and entertaining videos for you to share on the Social Media profiles and let your attendees remember what a great time they had.
  • Send fun facts – another good practice would be to send fun facts and stories about what happened during the event. For example, at a festival: how many beers were drank or how many hotdogs eaten.

How to use and create Snapchat’s Geofilters

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Snapchat offers their users the opportunity to create their own Geofilters according to the occasion.

Categories of Snapchat’s Geofilters

Community Geofilters are mainly used for a place that it is meaningful for you and your community (this geofilters are free of charge).

Personal Geofilters are created for important moments which happen in every one’s life, such as birthdays, welcome home parties or any kind of events. (the price for these geofilters starts at $5).

Business Geofilters are dedicated to help any kind of business drive awareness and engagement in one swipe. The event category will fall under this section too. They are more pricey than the Personal Geofilters but still affordable.

Unfortunately,  the On-Demand Geofilters (Personal & Business) are only available in the USA, Canada, Australia and UK.

How to create your Geofilters for Snapchat

First of all, the Geofilters have to be original and in order to do that you need to design or have one designed it for you. PicMonkey and Canva are two good example of platforms that can help create wonderful filters.

From February 2017, Snapchat, launch a tool that creates on-demand geofilters on the web so that you don’t have to use any other external platforms.

For those who still prefer creating a Geofilter with a tool that they are more comfortable and familiar with, need to keep in mind a few aspects when designing it:

  • Include your event name/logo but be careful not to add any logo or design that you don’t own.
  • Insert creative graphics and text but try to keep it around 2-3 lines tops.
  • Your text and design should not cover more than 25% of the screen dimensions.
  • The size of your geofilter should be: 1080 x 1920 pixels and less than 300kb, saved in .PNG format.

Snapchat and Instagram are two amazing tools that should not be ignored while organizing an event. Comparing them with other channels of event marketing, they are cost effective and sometimes free – why not take advantage of their great features?

Cashless payments dramatically improve water parks experience

As the northern hemisphere melts down under the mighty sun I had the greatest idea ever (not!): why don’t I write an article about water parks and how the industry adapts itself. Because what can be cooler (pun not intended) than documenting exotic water parks while you ride a crowded subway to work? But this article walked me around the world, helping me discover incredible destinations, epic constructions, and some interesting ways of using #tech.

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I found up some interesting facts about water parks:

 

The Waterpark Capital of the world is…Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. But although Wisconsin is home to the biggest water park in U.S.A. (Noah’s Ark Waterpark) and has more water parks per capita than any other place in the world, the state of Florida leads when talking about the number of attendees; the biggest four locations gathered over 7.2 million people in 2016.

 

The first indoor water park was built in Edmonton, Canada, in 1985 and was the biggest indoor waterpark until 2004.

 

The biggest indoor waterpark in the world is Tropical Islands, situated 60 km outside Berlin. The building was initially designed as an aircraft hangar and it’s one of the biggest self-supported halls in the world (the dome is 107 meters high)… It’s spectacular! Tropical Island Resort also opened an outdoor section which helped them bring in over 1.1 million attendees in 2016 (a spectacular 13% increase if compared to 2015).

 

Speaking of leaps forward, another European Waterpark holds the record for the biggest percentage increase: Siam Park, located in the Canary Islands, opened its gates for over 1 mil guests in 2016, a 15% increase if compared to 2015.

 

When speaking of the total number of guests the gold medal goes to Chimelong Water Park, from China, which had over 2.5 mil attendees last year; that’s about 600.000 more than South America’s most visited water park, Thermas dos Laranjais.

 

As I was saying…it’s hard to concentrate when things are melting down around you. Fortunately, there are plenty of places that can help us overcome the heat, and water parks and pools are there to help. But you know what is not helping? The need to carry cash and/or cards when we are in our bathing suits…

I’m an advocate of using NFC technology for water parks, a technology that can make the experience a better one for attendees. How? By linking the wristband to a customer account and crediting it (so there will be no need to carry cash around or periodically visiting the locker to grab some more). Also, the wristband can replace the key to the locker, helping attendees concentrate on the only thing that should be important while they are on site: having fun!

“Paper and coin currency in water parks will go the way of the dinosaur,” said Buddy Wilkes, from Shipwreck Island Waterpark, Florida. And I totally agree.

 

Let’s review the major benefits of contactless payments:

 

To business:

  • Reduced cash handling by employees (so cases of fraud or human error are out of the question)
  • Improves transaction speed (a report from American Express states that “contactless transactions are 63% faster than cash and 53% faster than using a traditional credit card”)
  • Order value increases with over 30% (customers have instant access to their money, eliminating the extra step of walking to the wallet will increase the number of purchases)
  • Information about guests
  • Ability to prioritize clients (that pay extra for different benefits)

 

To guests:

  • Possibility to receive preferred customer benefits (this is the kind of experience that is hard to forget)
  • Reduces the risk of losing the ticket (or the cash/personal card)
  • Eliminates the need for holding separated tickets for different areas on site (the wristband can store all the access information)
  • They can keep track of family members
  • No more need to wait in line

 

The idea of using a wristband for contactless payments isn’t new and the technology has been used for some years in the industry but this year we witnessed something great. Orlando Volcano Bay, opened in May 2017, took the technology one step further: their waterproof wristband, Tapu Tapu, announces you when it’s your time to use a ride; this smart wearable it’s not just for cashless payments, it also waits in a virtual line for you, so you can do something else until it’s your time to use the ride.

 

There is one more great benefit of using wristbands for contactless payments (and also to store access credentials and to unlock your locker) and I let it last on purpose; not because it is not important, but because I want it to be the idea that you’ll stick to: going paperless will make a big change to the environment. This totally slipped my mind, but the guys from Waterbom Bali helped me realize how important this benefit is to us all. It’s been over 7 years since they first started using waterproof wristbands for cashless payments and are happy about the improvements made: because they are aiming to be #1 water park in the world that cares about the environment. Maybe this is why people love them some much and voted them as the number 1 water park in Asia in the Tripadvisor TraveleresChoice ranking. You rock, guys!

 

P.s.  For more statistical data you can check out Statista, Wikipedia or http://www.teaconnect.org/images/files/TEA_235_103719_170601.pdf, that’s what I did :).