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Taking Responsibility When a Festival Doesn't Deliver.

Andy Robertson

Festival-goers attend music festivals to enjoy a positive memorable experience and the majority of events deliver just that. For the handful of festivals that go awry for whatever reason organisers should take responsibility for any failings and provide refunds or compensation to unsatisfied customers.   

The variety of problems that can occur at a music festival vary from minor irritations to major issues particularly when combinations of factors cause too many problems. Common festival-goer complaints include poor preparation for inclement weather, insufficient toilet facilities, headline act cancellations, poor amplification quality, overpriced food and beverages and too much queuing. What simple steps can organisers take to prevent these issues and how should they handle complaints?

Planning and Organisation. 
With great planning and well-constructed contingencies most potential problems can be overcome. Ordering sufficient numbers of toilet facilities and ensuring that entrance and egress form the festival site allows for efficient crowd control can alleviate many potential issues. Good contractor and vendor selection processes can ensure that equipment is of a sufficient quality and that food and beverage vendors are experienced at providing services at festivals. Headliners do cancel so music producers should have good contingency plans for scheduling replacement acts. Inclement weather cannot be predicted but sensible site planning and sturdy construction of structures plus ground preparation should ensure bad weather has a minimal impact.

Training and Staffing. 
Having a sufficient number of volunteers and staff available is key to providing a good on-site service to festival-goers whether it’s crowd control, security or litter picking. A good training process will ensure that all staff and volunteers know exactly what their responsibilities are on the festival site. Poor volunteer recruitment and training can cause a chaotic festival site and lead to numerous issues that should be easily preventable.

Refunds and Compensation Options.
Most music festival organisers have a refund process in place and this was used during the coronavirus pandemic to great effect when most festivals were cancelled. Organisers should clearly communicate their terms and conditions of sale when festival-goers are purchasing tickets. These should be fair and reasonable and can include cancellation due to weather conditions out of their control or the right to replace a headline act with an equivalent artist. Although festivals with multiple problems do occur organisers should be fully prepared to offer refunds to unsatisfied customers. If there were minor issues that generated complaints organisers can consider providing discounts on future event ticket purchases or complimentary VIP upgrades for example.

Festival organisers should never blame someone else for on-site problems whether that's vendors, artists or contractors for example. All these issues can be controlled to an extent with good planning and organisation.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.  


Andy Robertson
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