The Festivalization of Meetings & Events


Now, more than ever, brands and organizations are fiercely competing for consumer attention and engagement. According to a Nielsen report, 32 million people attend a music festival in the United States each year. So, it’s no surprise that companies are opting for this new approach to reach internal audiences at corporate events.

Festivals are fun, inspiring and, in this day and age, technologically advanced. As an agency that produces four ticketed music and arts festivals with attendance totaling over 250,000 people annually, we have seen various best practices in festival design, including accompanying technology and social media initiatives. These three approaches can guide organizers and promoters in putting on the most effective event possible:


Designing the Event

Clients are looking for a change from the traditional concert in the ballroom on the last night of the conference. They are also looking for interactivity, as attention spans have shortened. The festival model accomplishes this – you can have a traditional main stage for entertainment, but the use of multiple stages or performance areas allows audiences to stay engaged and active. The event can stay inside, move outside or take place in a nontraditional venue.

However, a festival-type event is more than just multiple acts performing. We have been bringing art installations and live artists into the space, for example. Multiple approaches to food, from tasting stations to food trucks also augment the overall event.

Comedy is another method that has worked very well for us in festivals and at corporate

events. There are some solid comedians that work very clean and are budget friendly, such as Henry Cho and Nate Bargatze, and a variety of headliners like Sebastian Maniscalco or Jim Gaffigan.


Tech Tools

It’s the tech age, and with that comes a constant need for information. Give it to your guests with a custom event app – it’s how we’re interacting with festivalgoers. Attendees can build their own schedule, access site maps and explore festival offerings, all from their mobile devices. The event app goes a long way in enhancing oftentimes overlooked, but core elements of any event. If someone at a festival is vegan, he or she can search for onsite vendors that meet that dietary need. Or, if the person needs help finding guest services, the app can assist.

Another tech element is the RFID, or radio frequency identification, wristband. Once attendees enter the festival, they motion their wrists over readers to gain entry. At other points throughout the festival, the wristbands can be used to admit VIPs to special access points.


Social Media

The events industry acted quickly in adapting and applying social media to programs when it first emerged. And, while it used to be enough just to have a social media presence, that’s no longer the case. You must interact with your guests through the channels they prefer.

A fun and customizable activation that’s great for any audience is the Twitter or Instagram vending machine. With the custom machine wrap and themed vending items – like branded earbuds, sunglasses, cocktail shakers and gift cards – patrons are able to come up and ”Tweet for a Treat.”