The Tartan Blanket observation

We had the good fortune to attend a 6 day festival in the middle of London over the past couple of weeks. A wonderful iconic venue in the heart of the city, that is trying to provide a greater experience for the customer and booking acts that vary greatly in profile and fans. One night you have British festival favourites, then maybe a legend that has not toured since the 80’s.

The age groups of the customers also varied to include audiences that may not have attended this type of event before. With this age comes a greater expectation of customer service and looking for a level of comfort. Now, I don’t know of any green field site that provide seating to customers in the middle of a field? We see it is sporting stadiums on the field of play, but we don’t recall any out in a field (park) set up as a festival.

Now, I am sure this will come as no surprise, but as you get older, you become less rock n roll and more partial to a comfy seat to watch what you paid to see? No…..maybe it is just us. For healdine acts we all want to stand, dance, sing and be merry. But, for the support acts we would rather have a seat, drink of choice and enjoy the weather (hopefully). Now, not a lot of people just want to sit on the grass, they would rather have a seat. We can safely place ourselves in the folding camp chairs do not belong at gigs group. Why? It is additional items being brought in that do not need to be and in an emergency egress they are just bloody dangerous when you have a field full of them.

What about picnic blankets? Are they dangerous? Not that we can think of. 

What if you have a 50000 attendance and 10000 of them turn up with a blanket. Now, hopefully this is for more than one person to use. Nothing wrong with that,  provides comfort to our customer, keeping them of the grass, they can take off their shoes, have drinks, food and feel like they have not left home. At this moment pause though, think about what this may do to an event, it brought a great deal of study on the nighs it occurred.

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Have you thought what might happen?

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10000 customers turn up to see their days entertainment and to get the most out of it. Picnic blanket is deployed, bums are parked and enjoyment is had. More people join in around them and more and more. Suddenly you have a field of tartan in front of you. Not a problem, well until you want to move. 

The tartan picnic blanket is like an invisible force field it would appear; people do not want to touch it or stand on something that does not belong to them. So they tip toe their way through the field trying to touch the blanket; it’s like a strange  game of the floor is lava, or in this case the tartan. People work their way through it till they finally get to open space and can move freely. As the evening progresses more customers arrive to find they can see the stage but a lot further away than they would like, due to the field of tartan between them and the stage; that no one wants to invade.

As we get closer to the main act, that majority of the picnic blanket massive now want to stand and so will pack up the force field and allow those that have waited to start invading. We can see strong holds though. This is clusters of tartan blanket warriors that say, no, you shall not claim my space, I have extended my personal bubble and claiming this area as my own and their neighbours have joined in.

Now when it comes to it, we could tell everyone to stand, pack away the force field and share the space with others, but that always comes across as a bit harsh and poo poo.

If we leave it though, we see that our customers adapt to the new obstacles. They find ways around the site that does not involve breaking the force fields. The edges of the arena are narrowed and have heavy traffic, through routes are commonly agreed to and local unsigned agreements are reached as to where you can walk and not.

This can totally change the dynamics of your site and cause a bit of head scratching, but I also allows you to see how good the design is. There is flexability and adaptability in the site to allow these unforeseen occurrences. Biggest lesson though……who knew that the average tartan blanket held such power.
WorkingWithCrowds 11th July 2016