In 2017, the notorious Fyre Festival failed to deliver their promises for a festival, canceling it last minute. The cancellation was so last minute that many attendees had already arrived at the remote island that it was being held on. As a result of this failure, the festival became a joke among many prominent influencers, and the organizers are now facing over a $100 million lawsuit from dissatisfied festival attendees.

Fyre Festival — and now Vestiville in Belgium, too — was a complete disaster, and it all could have been prevented with proper event planning and event management software. Here are some lessons you can learn from Fyre to prevent your next event from becoming a viral nightmare.

What Happened at the Fyre Festival?

One good thing that came from Fyre Festival is that it showed people how not to run a music festival. From their mistakes, other festivals can learn how not to repeat them.

With media giants like Netflix and Hulu both making documentaries about the failure of the event, any aspiring event organizer should make sure that they take the proper steps to avoid experiencing the same pitfalls.

So, What Went Wrong in the First Place?

There are a number of problems that ensued the moment attendees arrived for the festival. Their luxury weekend was anything but. Below are some of the primary issues discovered by documentarians and reporters after the event came to a close:

  • Poor budgeting. Before you throw an event, it would make sense to know how much it’s going to cost you. The organizers may have made a budget, but it was widely off the mark, with it becoming very clear that they had no idea the cost of infrastructure that was needed for such a large festival.
  • Too little planning time. Not only did they not have a realistic budget, but they also didn’t give themselves enough time to plan the event. Where most events that were that large would need at least a year to prepare, they decided to try to cram it all within a few months. As a result, details were missed, costs were overlooked and the whole thing was a disorganized mess.
  • No event planning team and software used. The organizers didn’t work with professional event planners or software until there wasn’t anything that the professionals could do to fix it. Due to their lack of experience and belief that they could handle it all themselves, they lost out on valuable input that could have prevented some of the mistakes from happening. Many of the issues at Fyre Festival came down to poor communication and misuse of data — qualities that event management software specializes in.
  • No customer service team. There was no dedicated staff for customer complaints, meaning that there was no one to handle the numerous complaints coming in or to answer questions that attendees needed answered. Instead, staff members spent part of the day of the festival deleting any customer questions, complaints or comments instead of taking the time to respond to them. Even in the lead up to the event, they deleted negative comments, signaling an overhyped festival that cared more about profit than the quality of their event.
  • Inflexibility when logistics change. Fyre Festival advertised themselves as throwing a party on a private island. This wasn’t originally a false claim, as they did rent a private island, but they quickly lost access to it after violating the owner’s main term — not mentioning the island having any connection to Pablo Escobar. Instead of adjusting their prices, itinerary, offers and page design to their new, non-private-island location, they stayed with their original messaging and pricing, providing a false image to the attendee, which lead to disappointment.

Lessons Learned from Fyre Festival

From the many mistakes that the festival made, there are a few key takeaways that festivals in the future can utilize when they are planning their own event:

1. Follow Through and Manage Expectations

Not having enough funds was one of the reasons Fyre Festival failed, but so was their inability to manage expectations. They chronically over-promised and then under-delivered with the final product.

In a tweet that went viral from the festival, an attendee tweeted out his “gourmet” meal that consisted of bread and cheese with a small side salad that came in a styrofoam box. Instead of the high-end cuisine cooked by a top-tier chef, attendees were given food that was of lesser quality than an everyday school lunch. Along with that, the luxurious villas promised to attendees ended up being tents that resembled those used by FEMA.

Anyone setting up an event should learn from this that they must manage the expectations of those coming to attend the festival. Though Fyre Festival is an extreme example, you want to stick to the principle that you should under-promise and then over-deliver. High expectations often lead to disappointment, and you want your festival always to be exceeding what the attendee dreamed of. Only give out information to attendees if you know that you are going to be able to provide the product or service.

2. Have a Respectful Social Media Strategy

Do you know what really makes people angry? Feeling like they are being ignored by a company they’ve paid money to. Fyre Festival did just that as they went so far as to delete negative comments on their posts. Instead of addressing customer concerns, they stoked the fire by blatantly disrespecting their consumers and ignoring them. Employees were even instructed to delete simple questions about logistics.

When a customer reaches out to a company, they want to feel heard by the company, and they want a solution to their problem. They don’t want to feel lied to or taken advantage of. Instead of showing how much they valued their attendees, the festival did the opposite. Overall, this is a horrible social media strategy, and any festival would be wise to do the exact opposite.

3. Pay Attention to Location

Fyre Festival found a location that was beautiful, but they did not pay attention to the location’s ability to handle the number of people they were bringing. Though the white, sandy beach was a gorgeous location, it did not have the space to handle all of the attendees, buildings and acts that were going to be performing at the venue.

Before you commit to an area for your festival, take a moment to really consider if it can support all of your plans. If you know that an area will only support a certain number of people, don’t sell more tickets than what it can handle or go and find a new venue that can handle more attendees. Always think about if a venue can help you achieve your vision holistically, not in just one area. Though the venue was beautiful for Fyre, it did not check off multiple boxes that would have shown it wasn’t suitable.

How Event Management Software Could Have Helped

Configio is an all-in-one event management platform that, if used, could have helped Fyre Festival. If you want to plan a successful event, you shouldn’t try to do it all yourself. Instead, you should use resources available to you. Below are some of Configio’s features that could have assisted Fyre Festival as they prepared and then attempted to run their event.

1. Online Registration

Good online event registration software is the backbone of an event. Fyre Festival obviously did not have a comprehensive system that would have let them know how many attendees were coming to the festival and helped the festival budget funds properly.

A quality online registration program makes it easy for others to sign up for the event. It will first use SEO-base marketing that attracts your target audience to the event. With only a few clicks, targeted users will be able to register quickly. Once the registration is complete, the online registration software handles payments and provides tickets to users. Any festival needs to have a secure payment system that keeps payments safe from cybercriminals.

2. A Robust Toolkit

One of Fyre Festival’s failures was that it didn’t have enough staff to deal with the number of people attending the festival. With an EMS platform that has event planning tools like Configio’s, you’ll find it easy to train staff and then schedule them, regardless of if you need to one person or 1,000. Additionally, the program can help you manage vendors by giving your event planners and vendors crucial data to help them complete tasks.

In addition to its ability to manage staff and vendors, it also gives staff the ability to request supplies, rooms and whatever else they need with a simple click. Finally, the toolkit gives you reports about the events that allow you to examine the data and use it to adjust your plans. If the festival had used a tool like this, their staff would have been more well-equipped to handle the needs of their attendees.

3. Mobile Event Apps

If Fyre Festival had gotten past the first couple hours without canceling, they would have needed to have a comprehensive app that could have assisted them as they made their way around the festival grounds. A fully functional mobile event app can provide many services that enhance the event from the registration stage to their experience finding their way around the festival.

There are many bonuses a mobile app can give to your attendees:

  • Personal planning. With the app, attendees can create a personal schedule to let them know when they need to be at a performer’s act and plan out their top must-see attractions. The personal planning features will also allow for reminders, highlight what they still need to do and provide users with interactive maps.
  • Social media. A mobile app will integrate with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media apps to make it easy for users to share information with their social media profiles 
  • Live feed. The app can display a live feed of the latest updates and current happenings at the event.
  • Push notifications. To keep users up to date and send them reminders, push notifications can come from the app with relevant information and direct them to areas of the festival they’d enjoy.
  • Revenue generations. Not only will an app assist attendees, but it also can be used as a way for the event to make more money. There will be many options for sponsors to integrate messages into the app, which then provides a revenue stream to the event.
  • Tech support. As we’ve seen, Fyre Festival had no customer or tech service available to attendees. A mobile app will have tech support features built-in. The virtual help desk will quickly establish what the problem is and provide users with a solution.
  • Analytics. At the end of the event, the event app can extract data from attendees’ usage of the app. This info will provide the event organizers with reports that feature visual graphic data that will make future events even better.

4. On-Site Check-In

When attendees arrived at Fyre Festival, they were thrown into a convoluted mess, where no one communicated with them about where they were supposed to stay or how to properly check-in. They could have avoided this by using a comprehensive registration system that would have put attendees off to the right start.

An on-site check-in software allows for the event to automate much of the registration process. For example, the program can utilize face recognition technology to allow attendees to check-in and have a badge printed by simply looking into a camera. The software can also eliminate the need for staff in the check-in process, as it can be integrated into self-service check-in kiosks. The system will email a barcode to users who can then use it at the kiosk to check-in to the system.

5. Act Management

At any event, you’ll have plenty of musical acts and speakers to coordinate. Fyre Festival had a number of musical acts scheduled to perform, but in the end, none of them ended up performing. While there were budgetary issues that harmed their ability to pay the bands, there was also break down in communication between bands and the venue that caused them to lose confidence. For instance, Blink-182 publicly pulled out of the event, canceling on Twitter shortly before the festival began.

When you throw your own festival, musical acts and other entertainers will appreciate the act management functions of an EMS platform. The program will help you collect any of their AV needs, head shots and bios. The service can also send entertainers reminders and different alerts to keep them consistently updated about when and where they’ll be performing. With the software, entertainers can have information tailored for them, such as act specific announcements, hotel information and other helpful notices.

Constant communication with entertainers and their management will inspire confidence in your ability and ensure no one pulls out of their commitments.

 

Ready to Add an Event Management Software?

If you’re ready to provide yourself with effective event planning tools and techniques that will make the management of a festival you are hosting much easier, consider Configio’s powerful event management software.

To give you an idea of what you’ll be given with the program, we offer a free demo that will show you all the platform provides. If you have any questions, contact one of our representatives today.

Kate Dodd

Kate Dodd is the Vice President of Marketing for the Event Technology Division at Community Brands and has over a decade of experience leading marketing campaigns that drive revenue and engagement. Kate specializes in digital marketing campaigns, results-driven marketing strategy and thought-leadership to help organizations maximize the impact of their events.A strong believer in upsetting the status quo when it comes to marketing, Kate has employed creative, new techniques in standard marketing channels to great effect.
Kate Dodd