06 May What Would Have Made Fyre Festival A Luxurious Success
No doubt you’ve heard of the difficulties that the event organizers at Fyre Festival had in their festival debut. As event planners, we saw the potential that Fyre Festival had to be a great outdoor, tropical retreat for music and adventure lovers alike. Unfortunately, with an inexperienced team and not enough time, they bit off more than they could chew and now they’re dealing with a regrettable reputation struggle and are trying their best to get back on their feet. Today, we’re writing about some of the details we saw that were overlooked, but wanted to start with our first piece of advice: hire a professional events team! This festival confirmed much of what we’ve seen trending in recent years, which is a love for the DIY. In this scenario, the safety of guests came into question, which serves as a stark reminder that the investment in a professional team is always worth it. Now that the most important tip is out of the way, here are some more essential event planning tips that were overlooked in the preparations for Fyre!
In the words of one of the festival’s co-founders, Billy McFarland:
“We started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign. Our festival became a real thing and took [on] a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that’s when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit. … We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier.” – Rolling Stone interview
This point is key in understanding the breakdown of the Fyre Festival. What started out as a cool idea “took on a life of its own,” and grew without the time needed to put on a great show. Professional event planners know that having enough time to produce any size of event is important. Though we can work with short timelines, we believe that it’s better to postpone and host a great event, than to try and rush everything up until the last minute and provide an unsatisfactory experience for your guests. In the case of the Fyre Festival, it could’ve saved them their reputation, and now a lawsuit, which no one wants to deal with.
What the organizers at Fyre Festival failed to realize was that before preparation, there’s pre-preparation. When we’re throwing a large event or festival, there is so much that happens before we even think about ordering table and chairs, decor, or coordinating vendors & talent. We’ve got a whole department dedicated to rendering the space, researching the specs, and more that helps our event planners be completely informed when they start arranging their event. Preparing for an event, especially one as large as Fyre Festival, involves just as much work back on the mainland than it does during the three weeks they spent setting up on the island.
The main reason you may have heard of the Fyre Festival was due, in part, to the massive social media marketing campaign that drove much of their ticket sales and recognition. Fyre Festival utilized the ever-growing strategy of “Influence Marketing” which many are turning to in order to generate a good response and attendance for their events. What Fyre Festival lacked, however, was an honest connection between what they were broadcasting and what they had happening on the ground. There is a large lesson to be learned here for those who are interested in participating in Influencer Marketing: be realistic. Whether you’ve got models and celebrities promoting your event, or local bloggers and friends, being honest with what you’re promoting is essential. The reputation you acquire from the influencers you work with will always be tested by reality in the end. Selling large amounts of tickets on false pretenses will never be worth a negative experience with your brand from attendees.
A Calm Atmosphere
Sometimes, things just go wrong. Though a backup plan should handle most emergencies due to the weather and other limitations, there are some emergencies that are out of your control and can ruin an entire event. What’s important in this scenario is to keep a cool head, and proceed with caution. One of the biggest reasons that Fyre Festival was seen as such a chaotic event, was because their diversion tactics involved parties, hot sun, and plenty of adult beverages. When you have attendees who have been drinking in the sun, and then break the news that their luggage isn’t available to them and they have no housing, you aren’t going to have a lot of success in crowd control. Especially in this kind of environment, you, as an event organizer, have a lot of responsibility to get things under control before you can let loose and have fun. There is a time and place for big parties, but it’s definitely not during registration and check-in.
A Backup Plan
Perhaps one of the biggest oversights seen during the brief Fyre Festival was a solid backup plan. If you’re running short on time, and know that there is a lot of potential for things to go wrong, something you can not go without is an exit strategy. Though Fyre Festival tried to provide alternative options for luggage collection, housing, food, etc., the scale of their backup plan was in no way related to the capacity of the island or the number of attendees. One of the attendees from the event outlined the difficulty of finding food, transportation, and lodging for their stay on the island, some of which were difficult even after the festival was canceled. From the lack of flights off the island to all the people who were already present, this was the perfect storm. Safety of your guests should be the top priority when it comes to event planning, and not having a backup plan that ensured the immediate safe return and wellbeing for your guests is a big oversight that is already facing repercussions.
Want to avoid a Fyre Festival firestorm at your next event? Hire the professionals. Our events team has over 35+ years creating engaging and exciting experiences for groups of all sizes in all venues. Check out our Instagram for some of our favorite event highlights!