It’s a poor event manager who hopes for ideal conditions and does not have “Plan B” when planning a big off-site event. Practice shows that even professionals tend to make mistakes. The price of such mistakes is a messed-up event, disappointed participants and a destroyed reputation.
Terrible mistakes: how large-scale events turned into a nightmare for guests
The first situation. Midsummer Nights Dream Festival, Russia, 2019
Midsummer Nights Dream is an art festival that has been held since 2007. Known for its unique design, atmosphere and approach: each participant joins the common action. All this is complemented by music from the stars of the dance floor. In 2019, the organizers decided to hold a festival on the island. They had to get to it for several hours on ships and boats from the pier located in the village (45 km from Moscow).
The festival was prepared for several months. Ticket prices started from 5 thousand rubles (tickets for ships were purchased separately). The event was advertised by famous bloggers. Participants were promised music from the world-known and Russian headliners, a huge number of photo zones, unique food courts and a rich menu of drinks. In total, more than 4 thousand tickets were sold. Guests pre-ordered unique designer costumes of “dreamers”. But on July 20, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” turned into a “Midsummer Night’s Nightmare”.
- the day before the event, heavy rain started, which washed out roads and damaged the pier;
- due to the weather and organizational mistakes, most of the scenery could not be delivered to the island. Catering also was not on time to get to the location;
- the organizers knew about the problems, but did not do anything to cancel or postpone the event;
- participants were warned in just a few hours that the place of embarkation on ships, shuttles and bots was transferred to another village;
- the waiting time for one “board” was delayed by 2.5 hours. And all this was in the mud, without light, plaids, in the cold (it was very cool near the river);
- in fact, “modern and comfortable” boats, turned out to be Soviet “tubs” without any comfortable conditions. Those who were lucky to get on board were content only with alcohol from the bar. No tea, no coffee, no food;
- those who arrived on the island saw a dark forest, the absence of identification marks and … deep mud, strewn with straw. The costumes were completely destroyed;
- there were no ambulance doctors and rescuers on the island;
- “food courts” were field kitchens with pilaf. You had to stand 1.5 hours in the queue to get one serving;
- and so on …
The festival has already been called the main failure of the year.
The second situation. Fyre Music Festival, Bahamas, 2017
The festival began to be advertised a year before the event. It was positioned as a youth alternative to the California fest Coachella. The commercials involved Instagram stars and cult performers. On the list of headliners, there were G.O.O.D. Music, Blink-182 and other top artists. Guests were promised luxury accommodation and high-quality restaurant food. Tickets costing from 1,500 to 40 thousand US dollars were sold out in 48 hours.
- in the morning, the day before the festival, there was heavy rain on the island which has soaked and destroyed those few things that they had managed to prepare;
- one of the headliners – Blink-182 – tweeted about their refusal to sing, explaining this by the lack of conditions for a high-quality show;
- This did not stop the several hundred people who decided to attend the festival. The arrived were taken to a “beach party” in a restaurant. They had to spend 6 hours there, while the organizers tried to finish everything that was not completed;
- it turned out that nothing was ready on the site: neither the stage nor the “tents” for the guests: wet mattresses lay in the open air;
- it turned out that the catering company broke the contract a few weeks before. Guests were offered plastic dishes with a couple of lettuce leaves, a slice of cheese and bread;
- people began to return to the airport massively. Local authorities delayed return flights, keeping the festival guests in a stuffy room without water and food for a day.
Before the Moscow event, this festival was called the worst in history. The organizers are still surrounded by financial and reputation problems.
The third situation. Kozak Fest Festival, Ukraine, 2019
During the ethno event, a hurricane began. It turned out that the construction of the scene was not designed to stand bad weather. Part of it crashed down, taking the life of one man. Eyewitnesses wrote that chaos was happening, people were in a panic, and no one tried to resolve the situation. After the accident, the event was canceled.
Analysis of situations: how not to make mistakes
Analyzing the situation, it is worth making a general conclusion: if the organizer realizes that everything is out of control and providing a high-quality event is unrealistic, it is better to cancel it or reschedule it. Yes, the money will be lost – but the reputation will remain. Because the title of the organizer of the “worst event of the year” is a sentence for the event company.
A team of event managers is obliged to prepare for possible bad weather. Despite it, guests need to be surrounded by comfort, entertainment, food and drinks. It is necessary to prepare flooring to protect people’s clothes and shoes from dirt. This is a priority. No such possibility – no event. The comfort of guests is more important than profit.
If transportation to a location is provided, then it should be comfortable. At the waiting place – the presence of the organizers, seating for guests, rugs, food and drinks is obligatory. And of course, transport should run without long interruptions. There should be several dozens of sanitary facilities in the transport waiting area and at the location of the off-site event. Half-hour lines near toilets – are abnormal.
The main thing at the event is SAFETY. The duty of doctors and rescuers is a prerequisite. No alternatives and compromises for high-quality constructions and equipment. If the organizer doesn’t quite know how to handle this, then he should bring in experts: coordinators and a security manager.
Off-site events with hundreds and thousands of invited people should be entrusted exclusively to experienced organizers who think not about how to “hit the jackpot”, but how to complete all the tasks and not ruin the customer’s reputation.
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