The launch of two Fyre Festival documentaries earlier this month must have been the highlight of many event professionals’ week, or even year. Online streaming platforms Hulu and Netflix released separate documentaries revisiting the disastrous Bahamas-based Fyre Festival, and they have been the talk of the town ever since.
Aside from lashings of schadenfreude and a huge amount of empathy for those who lost money and livelihoods, a few things emerged from Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened and Hulu’s Fyre Fraud that are important to set straight.
True: Social media, influencers and brands can make or break an event
Get these three things right and the world is your oyster. The fact that Fyre sold out instantly was an incredible testament to the care taken by agencies surrounding the brand and design, as well as the power of social media and influencers. But the terrible fact was that this marketing was not based on reality.
While a set of supermodels sold the event, a simple tweet broke the horror story to the world: that pitiful, sweaty cheese sandwich. So, please be careful – the terrible experience of one customer can make global headlines in seconds.
Future launches of festivals and events will reveal whether consumer trust in new brands “selling the dream” has been broken, or at least whether fans will require more substantiation before deciding to part with their cash.
False: You can’t use cashless wristbands if there is no wifi
Thankfully, the Tappit team had no involvement with Fyre Festival. However, what we do know is that our solution does not require wifi to operate. Reporting and analytics by events organisers might be marginally slower as a result, but a lack of wifi does not cause a problem with regards to implementation. Even on a far-flung island – which Pablo Escobar may or may not have owned – you can integrate the Tappit solution seamlessly.
The fact that Fyre sold out instantly was an incredible testament to the care taken by agencies surrounding the brand and design
True: Going cashless is the future of events
Fyre correctly tapped into a major trend for customers and event owners alike: going cashless is the future. Cash is used in less than 1% of transactions in Sweden — and Tappit’s recent global survey of 800 festivalgoers found that 73% prefer being cashless at festivals.
For organisers, too, there are huge benefits to going cashless. Valuable data and insights are gained, helping organisers to understand their fanbase and target their marketing. Profits increase due to faster transactions, increased spending and a reduction in administrative costs and, of course, theft and fraud are virtually eliminated. Sadly, in the case of Fyre Festival, no one benefited at all.
True and false: The fans’ money was at risk on the wristband
One of the benefits of going cashless as an event organiser is to understand how much people are willing to spend at your event. This, in turn, gives greater insight into how to create a memorable experience and provide the products that customers want to buy.
At Fyre, from what it seems the fans did lose their money. However, this is an issue wherever and whenever people buy something long distance. Whether it is a gift card or a holiday, if a retailer goes bankrupt before the customer receives the goods, then their money is at risk.
If event organisers choose to work with Tappit, our dedicated account management team helps them to create the right solution for their audience. We work together to ascertain whether keeping funds in escrow or ensuring the transactions are stored on our partner’s merchant account is the best way to reassure customers or aid cash flow.
Being honest with fans might not have saved Fyre Festival, but it certainly would not have created a global story that provided enough content for two full-length documentaries
True: Honesty and timely communication make a difference
When things turned sour for Fyre, they went downhill quickly. Yet, as many people mentioned in the documentary, simple and fast communication might have made a difference. Being honest with fans might not have saved Fyre Festival, but it certainly would not have created a global story that provided enough content for two full-length documentaries.
So, while everyone is discussing Fyre around the water cooler for the next few weeks, please think about what you can learn and what you can do to ensure that your event is making the headlines for the right reasons.
Jenni Young is chief marketing officer of Tappit.