There’s no better time than now to go on sale for 2021
It’s been a turbulent year, to say the least, for the events industry. Mass cancellations, followed by huge uncertainty and financial turmoil, has caused a huge strain on what is one of the world’s most exciting sectors.
Despite all this, we’ve always been confident the industry will bounce back strongly. There’s a reason why the global events industry was valued at $1,100 billion in 2018, with the expectation of reaching $2,330bn by 2026, but its influence goes way beyond a monetary value and into the very fabric of who we are as people.
Back in the summer of 2020, we ran a survey of over 100,000 festivalgoers to find out what they were thinking about the future of live events. We were surprised even ourselves to find out that a huge 83% would feel confident booking an event for 2021, indicative of the pent-up demand that has soared following a year starved of live events.
We’ve already seen this heightened demand turn into sales selling over 90,000 tickets thanks to some extremely impactful launches from the likes of Afro Nation, Rolling Loud, EDC Portugal, BST Hyde Park, Mad Cool and El Dorado Festival. What’s maybe even more encouraging is that 60% of those sales have come from international travellers – nearly double the amount of overseas buyers from the same period in 2019, and from a much smaller pool of festivals.
All those above have benefited from little to no competition. In an industry notoriously saturated, their bravery has effectively turned into a competitive edge. It’s never been so easy to get your message across and take advantage of the strong demand before others like it is possible to do now.
It’s never been so easy to get your message across and take advantage of the strong demand before others
As the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines continues to gather pace and we gradually return to normality, we believe more and more events will look to go on sale. That’s obviously great news, but of course makes it harder to cut through the noise compared to launching now.
Whereas a few months ago the question over if live events would be able to take place in 2021 was still very much hovering over us, we feel this mindset has now shifted to how these events will take place.
We’ve been working hard on this to unveil our new Covid-secure offering through Event Genius, which allows promoters to operate a robust track-and-trace system and self-scan ticket entry and go completely cashless.
If there’s one thing that’s always struck me about the events industry it’s its resilience and optimism. It’s been a tough past year, but despite all that’s been thrown at us we’re confident that with innovation and positivity we’ll return with a hugely successful 2021. It’ll be worth the wait!
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This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Luis Sousa is marketing director for Festicket.
Why fan engagement is now more important than ever
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to gather pace, each day represents a step further into the unknown for the global population. Stock markets, industries and nations have been rocked by the all-too-necessary measures taken to contain, delay and ultimately eliminate the outbreak.
The events industry has been particularly hard hit, with globally famous festivals such as Glastonbury and Coachella proving they are not immune to postponement or cancellation. Each new revelation that forces promoters to change their plans understandably deals a blow to consumer confidence.
Many social media posts from music festivals, club nights, gigs, sports events and beyond are now littered with posts from concerned customers questioning whether the event will go ahead, asking for refunds or criticising the lack of clarity or communication.
Now, more than ever, fan engagement ought to be topping priority lists for promoters, event organisers and anyone else whose activities are affected by the fluctuations and permutations of coronavirus. Fans need promoters to provide clarity and peace of mind and raising morale through positive messaging is a valuable skill to have.
Here at Festicket, we are on the front lines witnessing cancellations unfold daily. We are seeing a desire for immediate information. Customers want to know whether festivals that are postponed will have the same line-up at the rearranged date, whether they are entitled to a refund if they can’t make the new date, and whether travel and accommodation will be refunded or valid for the rescheduled date.
There is, however, a great deal of support from fans for those promoters and ticket agents communicating openly and honestly, particularly those offering candid advice on whether the event plans to go ahead as normal, will be postponed until later in the year or is cancelled. Customers should be aware of their options for refunds or alternative arrangements.
We are seeing that there is more understanding from the general public than in normal situations
While the scale of cancellations and postponements recently is unprecedented, it’s worth remembering and learning from the summer of 2019, when severe weather forced the hands of several festivals including Boardmasters and Houghton. The Houghton team communicated as best as they could at short notice and later released merchandise and a commemorative book for the festival that never happened. What was clear from Houghton’s social media profiles was that their fans were a community – one that understood and appreciated the team’s heart wrenching decision to pull the event, even at the last minute, because they did so with their fans’ best interests at heart.
We are seeing now that there is more understanding from the general public than in normal situations. People are rallying around their local businesses and this goodwill is likely to extend to promoters if a strong bond has been formed and communication is handled well.
We are witnessing several practical steps from promoters and the industry which we believe will help to maintain or increase fan engagement and foster demand once we return to normality. Annie Mac Presents’ Lost and Found Festival recently fell victim to Malta’s travel restrictions and was forced to postpone the event. The organisers developed a goodwill incentive policy for fans happy to attend the new September date, whereby ticket holders can keep their ticket and receive €40 drinks vouchers on arrival, exchange their ticket for the 2021 edition of Lost and Found with a complimentary €40 drinks credit, or obtain a refund for their ticket money. The festival’s flexible and compassionate approach has been well received amongst fans.
The #SaveTheSummer campaign from Yourope, which we took part in alongside several artists and festival partners, asks people to stay home, stay safe and look out for one another so that we can hopefully enjoy a summer full of festivals. The campaign received a lot of positive feedback because it recognises the importance of staying safe at a time when it would be irresponsible to encourage people to go to large gatherings.
Festicket’s new FlexTicket is an initiative intended to give customers peace of mind when booking festival tickets; they can cancel their order for any reason while also having something on the horizon to look forward to. We have signed up more than 150 promoters to date and this number is growing every day.
This is a time to show our humanity and reach out to connect as best as we can
The festival season is slowly reshaping itself later in the year, towards the end of summer and into autumn. As the situation clears there is likely to be a huge jump in demand for people seeking to blow off some steam. There will also be a very busy schedule of events, with everybody playing catch-up for lost time, so maintaining a strong presence now in interesting ways will stand promoters in good stead amid increased competition.
Artists and labels are leveraging technology to reach their fans in new and innovative ways, including Chris Martin, who started the #TogetherAtHome hashtag by livestreaming a mini-concert via Instagram. This was picked up by John Legend shortly afterwards, and looks set to become a viral phenomenon. Artists as diverse as country singer Keith Urban and Yungblud have also livestreamed concerts from their homes.
Meanwhile, an initiative originating from Portugal – Festival #EuFicoEmCasa – promised to bring fans 40 hours of music from almost 80 artists, all livestreamed direct to fans from the artists’ homes, again via Instagram. The concept has proved immensely successful, with the new Instagram page garnering more than 225,000 followers in a few short days, demonstrating the huge appetite for interesting content.
Bringing fans artist statements, curated playlists, articles and, most importantly, news regularly over the next few weeks is a vital means of maintaining a strong presence and fan following; with so many stuck at home they will likely appreciate a distraction.
Above all else, however, the crisis has demonstrated the power of community. From videos of people in Italy gathering on balconies for mass singalongs to people leaving notes with offers of help for their neighbours, this is a time to show our humanity and reach out to connect as best as we can.
Luis Sousa is marketing director of festival ticketing and travel platform Festicket.