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Rogue Music Festival Volunteers.

Andy Robertson

Music festivals rely heavily on volunteers to have a smoothly run event contributing to good customer service and satisfaction of festival-goers. Not all volunteers have good intentions, and a certain number can go rogue during a festival causing a multitude of issues. How can festival organisers mitigate the impact of the rogue volunteer.

Depending on the size of a music festival the number of volunteers recruited by organisers can range from a handful to over 1,000. A volunteer going rogue is less likely at smaller events but if organisers are recruiting hundreds the chances of getting a rogue volunteer increase substantially. There can be serious consequences if a volunteer goes rogue, so organisers need to plan accordingly prior to their recruitment process. 

What is a Rogue Volunteer?
These are often individuals who pose as volunteers who generally have no intention of performing their allocated duties and use the volunteer route to gain entrance to a music festival. Having received their volunteer credentials, they can gain access to most of the festival site unhindered. In addition, they can take advantage of volunteer perks like free or reduced rate meals and accommodation. In extreme cases rogue volunteers can present liability issues if they are involved in illegal activities or cause unintentional damage or accidents on a festival site. 

Consequences of Rogue Volunteers. 
Neglecting duties allocated to a volunteer is usually a sign that a volunteer may have gone rogue and can cause operational headaches for organisers. Genuine volunteers will have to be reassigned to fill gaps left by a missing individual meaning they are preforming more time on duties than planned impacting on morale. Missing volunteers can increase the chances of accidents and security risks particularly if their duty involved crowd control or gate monitoring. The festival faces reputational damage if they have rogue volunteers because festival-goers will notice uncollected waste, dirty bathrooms and delays gaining access to parts of the site. Such incidents can be posted on social media which makes the festival look disorganised and poorly planned. 

Planning to Minimise Rogue Volunteers. 
Organisers can minimise the occurrence of recruiting potential rogue volunteers by taking numerous steps in their volunteer planning. Implementing strict vetting processes can help identify potential problem applicants at the start of their recruitment campaign. It may be wise to over-recruit the desired numbers, there will always be dropouts prior to the event dates, and this is normal as people’s circumstances change. Adding an extra 5% onto the number required can help operational planning and scheduling. A good training and orientation procedure ensures that volunteers are aware of their obligations before the event dates. Close on-site supervision can ensure that volunteers are performing their duties as required and it is always useful to have spare volunteer capacity so individuals can be directed to duties if the assigned volunteer goes rogue. The use of technology and wristbands that require scanning for entrance to different zones and for meals can help locate a rogue volunteer. In some instances, the failure to perform a duty may be due to illness or other genuine reason, however if a volunteer has gone rogue and is found organisers can eject them from the festival site. 

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 including a dedicated volunteer scheduling and management module. 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.

Image by Deeana Arts via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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