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The Evolution of Operational Management for Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Operating a music festival can generate substantial revenues and continues to draw new players into the industry. With more than 30% of music festivals now operated by one of the large corporate players what do organisers of independently owned festivals need to do to improve their operational procedures to successfully compete.  


The traditional music festival was run and organised by just a handful of people who usually performed every operational task with all the relevant information kept in their head or at best written on scraps of paper. These festival owners and promoters still exist but the operational demands of the modern-day music festival means that event management needs to change. The old style of festival management can lead to ticketing issues and lost revenue because of gatecrashers. Other problems encountered can be insufficient food and beverage supplies, inadequate bathroom facilities and too many queues. Any of these problems can lead to problems in obtaining the necessary licences for futures events as local authorities will consider the event to be poorly managed and run.

Ticket Purchase and Access. 
Some of the world’s largest music festivals have had legendary issues with ticketing usually caused by a lack of understanding of the impact on systems to cope with volumes. Announcing a specific ticket on-sale date and time can lead to extremely high volumes of ticket buyers tying to purchase tickets at the same time. There have been server crashes among other ticketing issues. The likes of Glastonbury and Tomorrowland sell out in a matter of minutes so organisers need to manage ticket sales by phasing releases intelligently. Many organisers now use registered waiting lists to manage the flow of ticket sales. A sold-out event is also more likely to attract potential gatecrashers which means that efficient and robust gate entry ticket scanning procedures and festival site security need to be a high priority.

Staff and Volunteers. 
Key to managing on-site logistics is the experience of the full-time staff members along with the recruitment and training of on-site volunteers. Having a great team will ensure efficient gate entry procedures negating queues. Fully training on-site volunteers can ensure the safety of festival-goers and provides excellent service to deal with the usual on-site issues encountered at most music festivals.

Suppliers and Contractors.
Selection and management of all contractors and suppliers will ensure that the best quality equipment and engineering technicians are working on the build-up and break-down of the festival site. Having equipment that works as it should will ensure that the festival runs smoothly and provides the best experience to festival-goers.

Operational Management Processes and Procedures.
A great planning process should include every team member of the festival organisation and organisers should move away from relying on memory and scraps of paper. Even using a plethora of spreadsheets and online documents is only part of the solution. Different departments may be using their own spreadsheets and documentation with different formats and sharing data and information can be problematic. Online documentation is only a stepping stone to evolving to better operational management. Using a one stop solution like Festival Pro enables an entire festival's logistics to be located in one place with shared information updated in real time. Music festival organisers moving their operational management to such systems will improve efficiency, accuracy and the chances of evolving the festival into operational profitability.

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. 

Photo by
fauxels via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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