Imagine you are putting on an event for 1000’s of attendees but you only started properly planning it 8 weeks before it was due to go live, your security was non existent, the gourmet food isn’t going to materialise, your “luxury” accommodation is uninhabitable and the entertainment cancels the day before! At what point would you cancel? According to the organisers of the Fyre Festival, you don’t cancel you just keep forging ahead hoping for a miracle!

Fyre Festival was a real-life festival planned for 2017 which hit the headlines due to the fact that the organisers over promised and under delivered, so much so there are various lawsuits still outstanding. Netflix has recently released a documentary detailing how this amazing event turned out to be a disaster, it is well worth a watch.

We found it fascinating, as although we are not festival organisers, we focus on business events, there are many overlapping principles that apply when organising an event.


The main ones that stand out for us are:

What are the objectives of the event?

What do you hope to achieve, is it to provide additional training to your teams, increase the productivity of your business or get everyone together to celebrate a great year. Each objective is different and so requires different aspects pulling together to make it into a successful event.

What do your guests want?

Before getting into the nitty gritty of planning an event identify exactly what your guests want and what they expect. With Fyre festival the organisers were great marketeers. They put together amazing promotional material and engaged leading social media influencers to help promote the event.  However what they produced was misleading. It is essential that you understand your audience and can therefore deliver their expectations.

Who is coming along?

By understanding your audience, you can ensure that the event content reflects their passions and needs. Your guests should leave the event feeling like they have gained an experience or knowledge, that it was worthwhile and given the opportunity they would recommend it to others.

What are the key messages that are being delivered and is the audience receptive to them?

With the Fyre festival the initial key messages were of luxury, decadence and the ultimate experiences which was why they were all happy to pay many thousands of dollars for the tickets. What they received was nowhere near their expectations and hence they took to social media to communicate their disgust.

Understanding the budget

While the organisers of the Fyre Festival were amazing marketeers and visionaries they lacked a true understanding of budgets. They were putting on an event that turned out to promote style over substance and so should have had bigger budgets in place, the infrastructure to support it and a more experienced team to oversee it’s delivery.

The professionals that were brought in to help, were engaged too late in the process and in addition to that their opinions were not respected.

A good event planner will understand what the client wants to achieve and will support them throughout the process. Yes, there may be differences of opinion and different views but like the event planner respects the wishes of the client the client should also appreciate that the professional is just that, a professional and brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the table. Unfortunately, the organisers of Fyre did not listen to the professionals and expected everyone else to deliver to their unrealistic vision.

Finally, similarly to understanding the needs of the audience, event organisers should understand the limitations of a venue. Can it host the desired number of people, does it have the promised accommodation, can the infrastructure support the use of the planned technology?

One of the glaringly obvious mistakes made by the Fyre organisers was to embrace RFID. The idea being that guests could load thousands of dollars in spending money onto wrist bands that would then act as their wallets for the duration of the event. This is a great way of enabling guests to spend money without having to carry around credit cards or cash. Unfortunately, in this case, the island didn’t have the Wifi infrastructure required to enable this, so had the event gone ahead they would have been unable to buy anything or spend their money. Yet another example of under delivering.

Whilst there is much commentary about the arrogance, naivety, call it what you will, of the organisers, it is a great example of how things can get out of control and without a proper organised event plan in place a luxury event can soon become a nightmare.

To watch the documentary currently being shown on Netflix click here

Rumour has it that Fyre Festival 2.0 is in the pipeline –  let’s hope they’ve learnt a few things or at the very least they bring in a great events management team!



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