Music festival campsites
Over the past few parts we have let the customers in, let them party all weekend long and sent them home. But do we understand them? When you think about it, music festivals are like and extreme sport. They put their bodies to extremes – Sleep rough in a tent, eat junk food, drink far too much, party all day, sleep as little of possible, go to the toilet in a shed like thing and spend a fortune on it
WHY?? Why do they do it? What makes thousands of people turn up at a gig in a field and put themselves through it. There has to be a reason. Going to a music festival is not cheap; ticket, transport, cloths, tent like things, beer and spending money. This runs into the hundreds of pounds, sometimes for some thousands of pounds.
Music festivals are seen as a rite of passage, an essential part of youth culture, you just have to look at the demographic of your audience. Multinational companies and organisations plough millions of pounds into advertisement and sponsorship of festivals to promote their brand. Only through this have festivals reached the scale they have and are profitable and worth running. Youth culture is buying into this, it’s the brands they want to be associated with, it’s cool.
So we have something that is cool and everyone wants to be part of that coolness; how do you make it safe and organised without it impacting on the coolness?
The idea of music festivals for the young is to provide memories to build on to take forward in life. They assist in creating the cultural sub genres’ they are associated with, peers and friends. They are looking for that one perfect moment that will be historic for them and their group. They will recall it for years to come, it will become legendary. What makes me say this? You just have to look at the romantic memories of Woodstock; no one remembers that it was basically a disaster zone. The groups that played at the time are icons of their time, no one remembers bad points and if they do, it was just part of growing up.
Part of our jobs as crowd managers, is to assist the customers achieve this dream, to have the weekend of a life time. The hard bit is doing it is such a way that they do not know it. Your average 18 year old does not have safety at the top of their agenda when they get to the festival. Maybe – good times, party, beer, drink, sex, beer, good times, sex and party? We have to find a way to keep them safe, but not let it interfere in the goals they have set for the weekend.
We have to understand the goals of the people we are looking after, for some that takes a bit of thought trying to remember what it was like to be that young and for others it’s the resistance not to go and join in. By understanding part of what goes on in the mind of your customer, you can adapt your plans to match the customers need.
It is also important to move with the times. Who would have thought that the smart phone would play such a massive part in people’s life 10 years ago? It is now a third limb – have you seen an 18 year old when they don’t have access to their phone for a prolonged period of time? They can post up statuses on facebook and twitter, share photos on instagram and upload videos onto youtube; all from their phone. What are we doing to support this, what are we doing to watch this? Is it wrong to track what people are saying or doing at a festival? A very grey, area. Is it ethical, is it snooping and infringing on people’s lives?
There is a way that you can use social media to great effect. Let the customers comment, good, bad or naughty. Let them comment and track it. Use the information to assist you in finding faults in your system or positive feedback when it works. You can also feed information out to them; updates on the weekend, weather, safety information and traffic. It must be remembered that you cannot sound like mum and dad, they have escaped this for the weekend; you have to be a friend and keep the information light.
To allow this social lovefest to take place, we have to have the tech to allow this to happen. Network signals will only have a bandwidth for the local area as it stands before and after the festival. So we have to ensure that is can handle to the massive increase in traffic, supplying masts and booster for the site will allow this to happen. We also have to allow the customers access to powering their phones. Not everyone will have the ability or foresight to buying booster packs to charge their phones.
The friends that you take with you and the friends that they make on site want to interact. Not all of this is done over a phone network. Group interaction is a big part of the weekend; the more that get involved the more people you can talk to about it later. To allow groups to interact though, you need space. Not massive amounts of space, but space to meet in, site around in a group and have a few beers and talk, sing, shout, and maybe even dance.
This space has to be taken into account when designing the campsite. The guidance at the moment is already being stretched due to the size of the tents being used; now we are suggesting there is even more space needed to allow interaction. This might require the campsites being expanded to allow this.
The provision of entertainment till all hours of the day will allow the interaction of customers throughout the day and night for those that need entertainment. This creates the movement of people at all hours. This is not as bad during the day, but at night a campsite changes and can become confusing to the well oiled party goer.
We also have to take into account the statues of people attending the festival; the need to show that they are better than others. Even when you are in a field full of mud and thousands of people they still have those that need to feel superior. This need for superiority was fulfilled by the provision of a VIP bar; normally for guests and those willing to pay more for access. This want of feeling special has now moved onto the campsite; VIP camping, boutique, pre build, tribal or portable palace.
This is expanding across festival sites as we see the need to identify with the love for a festival and brand spread. Sponsors are getting involved and the quality of these facilities are improving year on year. This is where festivals get to be creative and experiments on smaller scales.
Is this showing us the future of festival campsites? Can it expand to greater numbers and deliver the same experience. I am sure like Motor Sports development finally finds its way into standard cars, we will see features that where developed within these areas make their way into the greater population.
We are now at a stage where we are looking for the next leap or will it be a gradual development and experimentation in the facilities provided. The question as crowd managers is; will this make the job easier and are we changing with the facilities.