How festivalisation of events brings entertainment to the party

‘Festivalisation’ has become a buzzword around events ranging from business conferences to exhibitions and sports tournaments. It marks a striking change in how events are conceived and planned.

Engaged experiences

The basic premise is about making events into experiences that all attendees want to share. For a traditional business conference, festivalisation might entail weaving a layer of entertainment into the programme – a programme which itself may have been shaped by attendees’ active input.

If accomplished properly, festivalisation will not only spark attendee engagement early, but broaden the appeal of the event. What is basically a business conference becomes something of an all-in-one social, educational and entertainment experience.

Festivalisation is a concept and an approach, not a specific checklist. In terms of how to apply the concept, it may be helpful to look at past examples.

At last year’s Six Day London track cycling event, spectators were wowed by the unique and electrifying party-like atmosphere that lasted the duration of the event.

London Tech Week and the SXSW Conference and Festivals in the US are both marketing and mingling platforms where companies can get early hints of industry trends and increase their B2B connections.

But much of their success is down to programmes and planning that make them ‘want to go’ events, with a variety of workshops, fringe events and networking parties mixed into the schedule.

Every attendee makes connections and finds something to experience – and feels part of a larger community.

Creating and measuring a ROI

Clear vision and a creative use of technology are effective ways to ensure a satisfying ROI on festivalisation.

This is where engaging a specialised agency can be extremely useful, as their experience in using data, social media and tech coherently can make a vital difference.

During the planning stage, think of the audience: Who are they? What do they want? Answering these questions will give planners a clear purpose.

Technology can provide experiences that are not only fun, but personalised and engaging.

It also offers a means to broaden the event experience beyond the venue, allowing non-attendees to participate online.

The best time to collect data is while the event is underway. Technology can make this one of the event’s points of engagement.

For example, attendees can answer surveys online or through an interactive smartphone app for the event.

The event space could also contain digital engagement points featuring AI interaction or facial recognition, for example, as an incentive for attendees to share information.

Provided you have asked the right questions, the above should add up to a deep mine of information that will not only allow you to measure the event’s ROI with reasonable confidence, but also identify which features of the event worked better than others.

They are priceless insights when it comes to planning your next event.

The article above was first published in C&IT magazine on 29 July 2019.