5 Festival Management Trends That Will Shape 2016
1. Cashless will break into the mainstream
Cashless payments are already a reality in the largest cities in the world. With Apple Pay making an impact in the US and UK, and Canada and China following closely, more customers are purchasing goods quickly and conveniently. Pizzas are just taps away and are instantly charged to our credit cards; we check our bank balance and pay bills on our way to work. Consumers expect the same ease of service from festivals. This is no longer a matter of early adopting, it’s a competitive advantage in a market of connected consumers. The generation of instant messaging doesn’t understand busy or slow times at the bar or ticket office – they’re used to getting what they want instantly. The oldest of the Generation Z age group are now able to visit festivals (at least in Europe), and have no experience with waiting in line.
Only cashless technology is easy, quick, and reliable enough to deal with the highs and lows at points of sales. There are plenty of top-up options: prepaid, connected to a credit card, pay by smartphone, … But regardless of the means, the convenience that comes with cashless is a major added value to any festival. This isn’t exclusive to top-of-the-line festivals anymore; if you’re missing out, others will beat you to it.
Another aspect to consider is the data you could mine from thousands of wristbands: you could finally get to know the people at your festival so much better. That means you could improve more than just the experience of using the wristband – you can also improve the experience of everything around it. You can get insights that allow you to make important changes during the festival.
But hey, don’t take it from us. Even Quartz reported how music festivals are making more money by ditching cash.
2. Ticketing Will Go Mobile
There is a growing demand among consumers for mobile ticketing. Contrary to what one might think, that demand isn’t coming from the youngest generations only. In fact, it is shared by all age groups recently surveyed by Eventbrite. However, the desire is most loudly voiced by 18-29 year olds (21,51%), but even the cohort that still discovers artists through physical releases, 30-44 year olds, would prefer mobile tickets (20,05%). With less than 5% of respondents reporting that they actually received mobile(-friendly) tickets, there’s clearly plenty of room for improvement.
It’s pretty simple though: If you’re on your phone and you check out an event that you like, will you remember to buy a ticket when you get to your laptop or desktop computer? That first impulse of wanting a ticket is a crucial window of opportunity for a festival, and not offering mobile ticketing options could mean you’re missing out on ticket sales. Ticketscript, Eventbrite and others understand that, now it’s up to you.
3. Festivals Will Recruit Local Crew Online
For most festivals, finding adequate, motivated provisional staff is a real pain. The first sites focused on connecting temp staff to festivals or other temporary job creators have been around for quite a few years now, but they’re more like band aids to an open wound than a real cure.
Modern initiatives, greater personal mobility and the rise of the sharing economy provide room for some great, new initiatives that are popping up globally. More and more countries are getting their local “Uber for staffing” or “Airbnb for crews”.
Festivals and workers can review each other, and read past reviews and history. Payments can be made instantly. These services are even specializing in particular niches of the event industry. Some platforms may offer only bartending candidates, others stick to security guards. But the most amazing part is that you can post job openings targeted to a geographically relevant group of people. Never before did you get the chance to hire someone with so much context and added information.
4. Crowds Will Need Reassurance
(In the Form of Enhanced Security & Communication)
Recent terror threats are increasing the pressure to offer a secure environment at festivals, especially in Europe. The festival technology business is doing its part by improving communication. With large scale events usually relying on volunteers or temporary staff, the need for improved communication tools that can be used effectively and as a backup to radio frequencies is immense.
What can really make a difference is how festival teams and staff react to a security threat. The emphasis of this type of technology is on improving communication, making it more accessible, shareable and effective. A fast reaction can help to contain very difficult scenarios.
Of course you still need to check bags, provide easily accessible emergency exits, have emergency teams on site, and be in direct contact with the police. If you don’t announce any of the measures you’re taking, you will be perceived as irresponsible, regardless of how unrealistic it is that an actual terror attack with strike your festival. The perception of making an effort is almost more important than the effort itself. Use technology to your advantage: send app push notifications, emails, write a blog post, send out a press release… We live in a connected world! Protect your business, provide solid communication and show your crowd that you care.
5. Big Data Will Enhance On-site Operations
On-site festival operation used to be known as the “black hole” of data management. Festival teams used computers to gain insights before and after events, but during the actual event, they were “flying blind”. But nowadays, smartphones and tablets have an array of sensors. When combined with mobile festival management apps, every tap is trackable and potentially meaningful.
That’s why festival management apps are starting to move out of just the backstage, and are starting to do their part in improving onsite operations. The next big step? Becoming more than a replacement for paper, and becoming an actual logistics assistant. We at BeatSwitch are working hard on a broader scope to use data for festival intelligence to be used for operation automation, production management and overall productivity of the festival team in charge. Also, the results are more and more astounding.
P.s.: If you’re excited about festival technology, but you’re still wondering if the benefits outweigh the costs, fill out our ROI calculator and get a personalized projection of just how much your business can grow!