If you’re like most event organisers, one of the biggest challenges you probably face when running an event is creating an effective marketing strategy. Most events have small teams and everyone in that team ends up doing a little bit of everything.
The events industry is a tricky business. Organisers spend months or even years preparing for the big day but things don’t always go to plan and sometimes it’s out of their control. As 2018’s festival season draws to a close, we’ve taken a quick look at some of the notable industry issues so far this year.
Update: Looe Music Festival
While we were writing this article, it was announced that Looe Music Festival was cancelled. The announcement from the long-running festival came only weeks before it was due to take place. Locals were immediately concerned by the prospect that an event which pumps £2m into the local economy each year wouldn’t happen. Thousands of festival-goers travel to the Cornish town annually, all patronising B&Bs, pubs, restaurants and other local businesses.
Despite some serious questions and understandable disappointment regarding the organisers of the original festival, a group of volunteers immediately emerged with plans to organise an alternative event – Looe Saves The Day.
As of Thursday 6th September – four days after the announcement – Looe Saves the Day has already raised £7,000 of the £30,000 needed to fund the replacement event. This community-spirit and willingness to get involved shows the value of the event to attendees, artists, local businesses and suppliers – something the whole events industry benefits from.
Gin Festivals cancelled nationwide
Back in July, Gin Festival Limited went under, only days from an almost sold out event in Norwich. With 20 gin festivals planned, 27 staff members and 20,000 ticket holders, the company’s administration was noted across the events industry. Would-be attendees were not reimbursed by the company and concerningly, some stated they hadn’t even found out about the cancellation from the organisers, having only known due to posts on social media.
With 20,000 ticket holders left out of pocket, some will definitely tread lightly when considering attending future events…so our advice is, even in times of adversity, take care of your attendees and be communicative – you never know, they could be put off going to your next event…
Blackpool’s Livewire Festival cancelled
In contrast to Gin Festival’s failure to clearly inform customers, most seem to have received the news appropriately, but many noted that not all booking fees would be refunded. Booking fees being retained despite the cancellation of an event is an ongoing consumer issue in the industry and we touched on it last year after Adele cancelled her tour.
The lesson here? Make sure you have a backup plan and plenty of support in case the worst happens to a key coordinator AND use a ticketing platform that will refund your customers’ fees if the event is cancelled.
Glasgow Pride ticket chaos
Once the park filled, all queuing guests were turned away – even those with more expensive VIP tickets. Charity representatives stated they’d spent funds taking LGBT youths who were then declined entry whilst the Summer heat caused some to faint. Reports suggest around 600 guests were left queuing outside – refunds were made available for a month after the event.
The lesson here is to keep ticketing simple and avoid making attendees re-queue having purchased tickets online. Maybe more importantly, don’t oversell tickets – not just for the sake of the potential PR fallout but also for the safety of all guests.
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DJ Khaled pulls out of Wireless Festival
So, tickets were sold for a headline act who was never going to perform. Wireless Festival took responsibility for not alerting guests earlier but added salt to the wound by replacing the performer with a short, 20-minute set from Drake.
Announcing that the widely advertised headliner wouldn’t be performing was understandably met with anger and disappointment – a Twitter thread about the announcement really highlights the implications of PR nightmares in the age of social media.
Attendees were not only angered and disappointed by the lack of transparency but also the fact they wouldn’t get their money back as Terms & Conditions for the festival stated changes to the line up wouldn’t constitute a valid reason for refunds.
Many event terms and conditions will have a similar clause but to knowingly mislead attendees until 12 hours before the event seems like exceptional circumstances and the perfect opportunity to keep year-on-year attendees happy with an act of goodwill.
Ticketmaster closes secondary sites
This change follows years of the company pushing back on anti-tout legislation and dismissing any concerns as a ‘media frenzy’, as well as competitors Viagogo and Stubhub being raided or investigated by several consumer bodies.
For a closer look at the events leading up to Ticketmaster’s announcement, take a look at our in-depth report over on our blog. Plus, you can keep up to date with industry news year-round over on our Twitter.
What can we learn?
Events can be hard to manage, especially when things go wrong but the navigation through any following backlash should be handled sensitively and with disappointed attendees in mind. The lack of clear communication between events and their customers regularly shows little respect for the individuals who have planned their day or weekend around an event and spent their hard-earned money on tickets, often well in advance.
Keeping attendees in the loop should be one of the first ports of call upon cancellation or changes to an event’s schedule. If an individual had pre-ordered a product and its release was cancelled merely days before the delivery date, customers would expect a refund. Having comprehensive event insurance which covers organisers in the event of cancellation or administration is a must-have – otherwise, as an organisers, you may never be trusted again.
We regularly meet organisers who need their ticket revenue in the build up to an event, for deposits, invoices and salaries. Having a regular cash flow can greatly help event finances remain clear, up-to-date and manageable. We’ve seen organisers who have to cancel their event on short-notice and contacting attendees is always the first port of call for many. Through the disappointment, prompt and honest communication can save an organiser-attendee relationship. Whilst the negative sentiment of attendees not being informed and thus turning up at a non-existent event can last forever.
Cancelled events, refunds, 2018
The use of influencer marketing has grown exponentially over the last few years due to the ever-increasing growth of social media.
After all the excess of Christmas and looking ahead to the New Year, many of us will have the New Year’s resolution to improve our fitness or to shift a few extra pounds. This is the perfect opportunity to amp up your marketing for your class ready for January.