No one wants their event to turn into the media’s next joke. But some recent festivals have been so mismanaged, they’ve earned a reputation — for failure.
Don’t let your festival become a disappointment — or a household joke. Instead, learn from the mistakes of past events and dodge the embarrassment other festivals had to endure.
By identifying the trends in other festival’s errors, you can prepare to handle any challenge that comes your way. Here are four potential pitfalls to avoid to protect your festival’s reputation.
1. Missing paperwork
From permits to licenses to contracts, any festival will require paperwork. And not having your legal ducks in a row can be disastrous. Don’t put yourself at risk to cancel the event, or be sued. That reputation can haunt you for years.
What would you do if you forgot to submit the paperwork for your alcohol permit? Has your legal team reviewed your insurance policy? Are you liable for a vendor backing out last minute?
Fail-proof your festival: Do your research early on to see what type of permits you need and apply ASAP. With venues and vendors, get all necessary contracts signed well before the event, and keep copies organized and easily retrievable. When you’re finalizing your venue, confirm fire codes and capacity limits to avoid regulations issues if your event sells out.
2. Faulty logistics
Choosing the right location and time for your festival is vital, as is having the right support services, staff, and equipment. You need to think about everything from local traffic patterns and parking to the timing of the event.
You’d be surprised by how many festival fails happen because of inclement weather or a disorganized ticketing and registration process, which can put everything behind schedule or worse.
Fail-proof your festival: Start by putting contingency plans in place. For instance, what happens if your venue cancels on you?
Consider other logistics, such as how much time you’ll need to set up, how many staffers and volunteers you’ll need, and if you need signage or personnel to help people get to the right place. Do you have ample room for storage? Should you provide a coat check? Do you have a space for your performers or presenters to check in?
Finally, prepare for all weather situations — lining up backup tents, air conditioning, or alternative venues if needed.
3. Inaccessible venue
You want your festival to reach and delight as many people as possible. That includes people who have limited mobility, are in wheelchairs, who have service animals, or have other disabilities.
Also consider how accessible your event is for people arriving through different transportation methods. What if your FAQ page encourages people to bike to your event, but you don’t have any bike racks or storage? If you don’t make it easy for everyone to participate at your event, you’re going to alienate some of your attendees.
Fail-proof your festival: Start by choosing a venue that is accessible for all attendees. For instance, if there are stairs, are there adequate elevators and ramps?
Then, consider other ways you can accommodate guests. This can include having a sign language interpreter, designating special seating, and having someone on site to assist those in wheelchairs. For all attendees, confirm public transit options nearby for smooth ingress and egress from your event.
4. Bathroom issues
Many events are notorious for their not-so-clean, limited potty break options. Provide better bathrooms, and you’ll stand out — in a good way.
Fail-proof your festival: First, you should you have ample bathrooms to accommodate your crowd and keep lines at a minimum. You should also have staffers who monitor the restrooms and keep facilities clean. Make sure the restrooms are replenished frequently and stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Take the next steps
Even with due diligence, there still may be some things that are out of your control. But follow best practices and to resolve the inevitable challenges faster — and protect your attendees from the chaos. Download The Event Preparedness Playbook: How to Avoid Common Festival Failures for more tips to minimize your risk of festival mishaps throughout your event.