The Ultimate Festival Checklist

The sun is shining and the birds are singing… which means its almost festival season. In 2019, free swag bags, branded VR filters, and photo booths are at the most basic level of fan activation. Nielsen’s Music 360 Report conducted a survey where 49% of people answered that they would view a company more favorably if it offered a free giveaway at a music event.

With the fast approaching season of outdoor festivals, we’ve compiled the ultimate checklist to ensure that your event takes off without a hitch this year. Read on for tips to market smarter and more efficiently to prospective and current festival fans.

1. Keep fans in the know

As we well know, great social media is the key to millennial activation. But how you execute is where many marketing gurus go wrong. Did you know that 42% of the world’s population (3.2 billion) are social media users? Plus, social media advertising spend in the US alone is expected to reach $18.4 billion in 2019. To keep fans on the edge of their seat prior to your festival, make sure to follow best practices by keeping your branding tight, sharing exciting updates, teasing vendors, and offering freebies. Try our easily editable Insta-story templates to get you started.

Next, build a robust app that can be used as an essential resource for attendees. By having an official app you can provide a host of features to help goers navigate the mass number of choices in music, vendors, and entertainment and creating a personalized schedule in which they can share with peers. Moreover, collect invaluable data about fans through social login that you can use to personalize their experience further. Although it’s hard to predict where future technology will lead, one thing is certain: apps will become the forefront of the music experience.

Coachella App

2. More than just music

In 2019, fans are seeking more than just big-name headliners at events. To stand out from the myriad of music events, tech integration is necessary before, during, and well after the event. By using innovative technology such as wearable wristbands with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips and a cashless experience, or VR filters on festival grounds, you can keep things interesting and attention-grabbing to festival-goers young and old.

Kobi Elbaz, HP's Vice President and General Manager of the Americas Personal Systems Business states: "We are moving now to the 'experience' age. People would like to get experiences, and we, as a technology company, believe that technology can enhance your experience by giving you something that without technology you can not get.”

All these tech-centered events have one thing in mind, to capture the moment for social media. Make it fun by yoking millennial’s need to share their “look what I’m doing!” snap to their socials. As Brian Quinn, Director of Programming at the Northside Music and Innovation Festival, told REVOLT TV, “The younger generations, Gen Z, or whatever, being so visually driven through Instagram and those kind of channels, now everything has to have that kind of feel. It changes the structure of how you create an event, because you want to create as many moments around that." By incorporating innovative tech you create a seamless sharing experience for your fans to increase exposure around your event, it's a win-win.

Our partners at Voodoo Music Festival are a prime example of tech innovation done right: Interactive fun mirrors with AR affects where fans could see themselves on the big screen (and snap their own photos) and behind the scenes staff that sent personalized messages to fans looking at the screen. Additionally, there was an animated line-up schedule for fans to plan which artists they want to see, that also helped festival managers announce last-minute adjustments in real-time. Voodoo integrated a fully-moderated social Stream where managers showcased the best posts on the tower, therefore inspiring fans to post about their own experience on social media.

Voodoo Festival

3. Play matchmaker

Be picky when it comes to sponsorships and consider your brand’s festival appeal. By carefully choosing sponsors with similar values and representation, you are able to boost your brand’s street cred. When thinking of sponsors to partner with, always consider the demographics and psychographics of your audience, your festival values, and think in the shoes of a festival-goer. In exchange for sponsoring your festival, decide your unique value proposition and whether the benefits are mutual. As millennials generally don’t respond well to traditional advertising, it is important for sponsors to meet them on their playing field and find ways to appeal to them. Gathering the right sponsors that resonate with your audience is essential as it impacts brand recall, awareness, and attitude in the minds of your fans.

Last year, Fruit of the Loom (yes, an underwear company!) partnered with our client Lollapalooza to promote its new EverLight underwear, by giving away free samples. The strategy here was on-site consumer experiences but in a fun and immersive environment. As Bryse Yonts, Fruit of the Loom manager of brand communications, states,

“Fruit of the Loom is a lighthearted and fun brand that is open to doing different things to reach consumers. Lollapalooza draws a diverse group of fans who want to listen to great music and have fun, and we’ll connect with customers and prospective customers on an intimate level.”

In addition to the free underwear, the company built a human “claw game” by offering fans to take part in a human version of the classic game, lowering fans into a pit of balloons to have their chance at winning great prizes like aftershow and VIP upgrades. This activation resulted in crowd approval, positive mental associations with the brand, and attention from the press.

Fruit of the Loom Activation

4. Green is the new black

Sustainability is not a fad- it’s here to stay, and for good reason. Did you know that big festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach generate 107 tons of solid waste each day, with only 20% being recycled?! By taking simple measures like swapping the plastics for compostable plates and encouraging reusable bottles instead of selling plastic ones, you can easily win favor in both the minds of fans, press and Mother Earth alike. As global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen says, “[Millennials] continue to be most willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings--almost three-out-of-four respondents."

Our partner Bonnaroo is an excellent example of #goinggreen in the festival scene by providing multiple sustainability initiatives for fans to take part in. From donating $1 from every ticket sold to sustainability work to offering stainless steel beer cups, and opening a “Clean Vibes Trading Post” where your bottles become currency to purchase festival swag and camping essentials to name a few, Bonnaroo is leading the way for all festivals to follow suit in becoming a truly sustainable event. By promoting #green alternatives, you are not only encouraging wellbeing for our Earth but it may very well be the final push millennials need to choose your festival over competitors.

5. Reward the die-hard alumni

Superfans are your ride or die who vocalize and promote your event for you. Did you know that hardcore festival fans typically spend 78% more on a typical ticket than the average fan? Along with that, they are more likely to rally their friends and are loyal to past festivals they’ve attended. To ensure you keep these devoted superfans around, provide perks that keep them engaged and eager. Show a little TLC by offering early bird VIP prices, exclusive benefits like BTS, skip the line passes, and private lounge areas. By doing so, you can create lifetime ambassadors out of your superfans where they will genuinely spread the love to their network. Make superfans a priority and reward them for sharing with their friends by giving them personal promo codes and custom graphics to share on their social media channels.

Our partner Sea Hear Now took the fan experience to the next level with their offering of VIP tickets for the ultimate superfan. The festival promoted VIP upgrades of prime views, luxury indulgences and premium lounges where there was space to party and an area to sit back at your leisure.


6. Quality > quantity

Partner wisely with relevant brands, performers, and affiliates for increased awareness and to build interest. Similar to sponsorships, you’ll want to provide for a wide array to appeal to your demographic that will get them hyped for the big day. By using Fan CRM, compile every fan interaction into unified fan profiles to create complete customer views for every fan. Analyze your fan data to determine affinity towards brands, artists and related artists. This will ensure that your line up will be a total hit and with it, you can decide which brands and affiliates are best to partner with.

As we saw from Fyre Fest, influencers can do a whole lot with influencing fans to buy tickets based solely on opinion. By learning from their fiasco, we can utilize “influencers” that are relevant to your festival’s demographic to help promote your festival the right way.

7. Keep the buzz rollin’

Just because your festival is over doesn’t mean you stop engaging your fans during the offseason. Keep the hype going throughout the year by hosting smaller events during the year for your most avid fans. Burning Man festival is an excellent example that has built up a community where attendees are so dedicated that they continue to keep the energy alive all year round. A collective coined “The Burning Man Regional Network” supports the global cultural movement by bringing its principles into local communities all year round. These branches of the festival such as “Love Burn” in Miami and the “Western NY Burnal Equinox,” foster strong bonds within superfans that last well until the official event returns.

Another great way to keep the spotlight going after your event is to engage in digital content. An easy yet effective way to do this is hosting after parties with popular headliners, followed by highlight reels of the best performances from the festival.

See how our partner Shaky Beats was able to garner over 3000 views on a recap of their festival just a few days after the event in 2018.

As the impending season of festivals near, your business should make sure to check off each pointer in this list to ensure the success of your event. Feel like you need to amp up your game? Contact us now for a free consultation.


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