Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Communities in Peril… (Part One)

 We all know that the economy in North America and, for that matter the world, is in deep recession. As a result, this has created great turmoil within communities! Businesses have closed their doors. 1000’s of people have been laid off or worse, lost their jobs. Municipality revenues are lower and they are reducing services. People within the communities are becoming more depressed and despondent as time goes on; their self esteem is much lower! Where does it all stop? Even community minded volunteers are starting to have self doubts. Their groups are looking at cutting back or disappearing altogether! All of these negative thoughts feed on one another! However, history shows us that if we can reverse these trends and thoughts that just the opposite will happen! Positive thoughts and actions will create new opportunities! This is where citizen groups can really make a difference! Rather than pulling back or giving up, these groups should move forward with enthusiasm and hope! By their leadership, others will follow! If you run a great event, it will attract others! Success will build on success! 

(To be continued in Part Two)

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Event Development (Part Three)

 

The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. Last weeks Blog started describing the “Commitment” section. This week’s Blog will continue this description. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Commitment (continued)

To help you get started in the commitment process, the following are some of the questions that need to be asked and answered:

1.    Why do you want to hold an event?

This is the BIG question. You need to answer this question first. Do you want to raise money for a project? Is it to celebrate an anniversary? Is it just for the fellowship of your organization? Is it a community awareness project? Or is it a combination of some or all of these? Whatever the answer, there must be solid agreement by everyone involved that it is a project that they want to participate FULLY in. If not, you’d better re-evaluate the “WHY”, otherwise you will never obtain full commitment.

2.    Who makes the final decision as to whether or not the event is held?

The people who make the final decision have the biggest responsibility. They must take all the information gathered and then make an educated guess on the future of the event. It is important that they consider all questions and concerns before making their decision. Make sure all potential stakeholders are heard.

3.    Who else needs to be involved in the decision making process?

It is not enough to ask the immediate members of your group if they want to proceed with your event. There are others who should also be consulted and considered. Have the spouses been asked what they think? If the community is to be involve, have you talked to community officials to see if you have their support? If it involves food or alcohol, can the necessary licenses be obtained? I think you get the picture. Everyone who are or could be involved should be questioned and opinions solicited. You don’t want to get halfway through the planning of the event only to find you’re stopped by some unknown factor.

(To be continued - Part Four)

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Event Development (Part Two)

 Commitment

I can remember many years ago being approached by someone who asked me what I knew about planning and running an Art Festival. It may seem like a strange question, until you realize that I was participating in a consumer show and my booth was selling art. It was a simple question, but it was the beginning of a life long journey into the world of planning and managing events. Being naive, I thought all we needed was a great idea and the rest would follow. How wrong I was! My partner in crime (the fellow who had approached me at the show) and I started off pitching the idea to the local community services manager. He was all for it and thought that the mayor would like it too. Then he asked 2 big questions! Who’s going to pay for it and who’s going to organize and run it? Fortunately, my partner was a Lions Club member and he thought his organization might be interested in participating. They were, but they had A LOT of questions. They were hard but necessary questions. It took a long while to answer these questions to the clubs satisfaction, but finally they, along with their Lioness Club, agreed that they would take on the project.

Their agreement was not only for money, but more importantly; their membership was COMMITTED to making the Festival a success. Over the last 17 years this commitment has never wavered and as a result, the Festival remains one of the top art festivals in the country and has allowed the clubs to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars back into their community. 

(To be continued in Part Three)

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Event Development (Part One)

 Some time ago, I started writing about “Website Construction”. I hope that the articles will help festival and event organizers create better and more productive websites! Now I would like to share some thoughts on “Event Development”. In the weeks that follow I plan on writing about the different stages of developing a successful festival or event. I believe that there are five key development areas, “Initial Development”, Research and Preliminary Planning”, “Leadership”, “Action Planning” and “Event Day Management”. It is my hope that festival organizers and planners will enjoy the articles and will give me feedback about their ideas and concerns! So, here is the first article:

Initial Development

As William Shakespeare’s Hamlet asked so many years ago, “To be or not to be, that is the question.

When you start thinking about developing a festival or event, after all the questions have been asked and answered, “to be or not to be…” really is the final question.

It may seem like an unnecessary start, but if you don’t ask and answer the questions, your event is likely doomed to fail right from the start.

(to be continued in Part Two ~ Commitment)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Ten)

 Social Media Optimization (SMO)

Although I haven’t mentioned Social Media Optimization previously, it is an area that seems to be gaining more and more importance. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media) explains Social Media as follows: Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.” Social Media with regards to the Internet includes Blogs (this article is a blog), Microblogs (Twitter, Pownce and Jailu), Social Networking (Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn and My Space), Photo Sharing (Flickr, Zooomr and Photobucket), Social News Sites (Digg, Mixx and Reddit), Video Sharing (YouTube, Vimeo and Viddler) and Livecasting (Ustream, Justin,tv and Mogulus). All of these and more can be used to increase your website’s popularity and ranking. These have to be used carefully and I would suggest that you study its use before embarking on Social Media Optimization. Check it out on the Internet, there are many articles on the subject. Remember, knowledge is power!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Nine)

 Traffic, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Optimization (Part 2)

11. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing is used to help websites increase their visibility. There are several methods of doing this. The best and least expensive is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is also the slowest method of SEM. I have discussed SEO in previous articles, but, to explain is simply, it is a method that builds your website in such a way that Search Engines will find the website, investigate it (crawl) and rank it. The better you optimize, the higher your ranking will become (given time). Other SEM tactics include “paid placement” and “paid inclusion”. The following is a brief explanation of each.
Paid Placement – This is a definition provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_per_click) “
Pay per click (PPC) is an Internet advertising model used on search engines, advertising networks, and content websites, such as blogs, where advertisers only pay when a user actually clicks on an advertisement to visit the advertisers' website. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. When a user types a keyword query matching an advertiser's keyword list, or views a webpage with relevant content, the advertisements may be displayed. Such advertisements are called sponsored links or sponsored ads, and appear adjacent to or above the "natural" or organic results on search engine results pages, or anywhere a webmaster or blogger chooses on a content page. Content websites commonly charge a fixed price for a click rather than use a bidding mechanism.
Paid Inclusion -
This is a definition provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paid_inclusion) Paid inclusion is a search engine marketing product where the search engine company charges fees related to inclusion of websites in their search index. Paid inclusion products are provided by most search engine companies, the most notable exception being Google.

The fee structure is both a filter against superfluous submissions and a revenue generator. Typically, the fee covers an annual subscription for one webpage, which will automatically be catalogued on a regular basis. A per-click fee may also apply. Each search engine is different. Some sites allow only paid inclusion, although these have had little success. More frequently, many search engines, like Yahoo!, mix paid inclusion (per-page and per-click fee) with results from web crawling. Others, like Google (and as of 2006, Ask.com, do not let webmasters pay to be in their search engine listing (advertisements are shown separately and labeled as such).

Remember, these methods will cost you money, but with them, you are able to control or limit your costs. It is a quicker way to have your website seen by targeted visitors, but not a way to guarantee search engine rankings. If you use the paid SEM method prudently, with an eye to Search Engine Optimization, it can be win win situation for you and your website!

(To be continued in Part Ten ~ Social Media Optimization (SMO))

Friday, October 16, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Nine)

 

Traffic, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Optimization (Part 1)

Traffic

The goal of every website has to be getting people to visit their website (Traffic). Why have a website that no one visits? So, the main object is to have traffic, good traffic, visit your site! But, how do you do this? Good question! Frankly, it starts right from the beginning! Actually, the process begins before you start your web construction. You have to decide why you want a website and what you want it to offer visitors. Once you have a very clear picture in your mind of that, you have to figure the best way of getting there. The first questions to ask yourself is who do you want to come to your website and how are you going to get them there. This, in essence, is the whole process of constructing a website! “Determining who you want to come and how to get them there.” From there it’s just a matter of following tried and true web building steps. I have outlined most of these steps in previous Blog articles, plus there are tons of article that can be found on the Internet. Building a great website, right from the start, will make all your “Web” dreams come true!

(Continued in Part 2)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Eight)

 Contact Information and Linking

Contact Information

A number of the websites I have visited over the past year have had either no contact information or incomplete information. I believe that this is a real mistake! When someone visits your website they are looking for answers. Most websites are designed to give as much information as possible. However, there will always be someone who has a question that is not answered on the site. When this happens the person will want the question answered. If they don’t get it an answer they will likely become frustrated and not visit the site again. A lost opportunity! This is why I always recommend that a website contain complete contact information. For me this includes telephone numbers (phone, fax and, where possible, cellular), a mailing address and, most important, an e-mail address. An e-mail address is important because, after all, the question is coming as a result of your Internet website. Communicating via the Internet only makes sense! Finally, it is imperative that once a question has been asked, no matter what mode of communications, that it be answered as soon as possible!


Linking

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), search engine companies (especially Google, Yahoo and MSN) are attaching more and more importance to websites having quality, compatible external links! Before search engines “smartened up”, Search Engine Optimizers use to “load up” websites with questionable external links. Most had no relevance to the sites they were linked to. This was all in the name of optimization! Fortunately search engine companies have become more sophisticated and are now recognizing when sites are trying to trick them. As a result, websites who use this practice can be penalized by Search Engines and have their rankings reduced or eliminated completely. When this happens, it is very difficult to earn your ranking back! In a word, Search Engine managers don’t like to be tricked or taken advantage of! It is important, right from the start of Building Your Website, that you and your web designer create a plan for attracting compatible, quality external links. This process may be time consuming, but doing it right, from the start, will pay huge dividends in the future! Remember that the object of all Search Engines is to provide quality and accurate searches for their customers.  So if you plan your website accordingly, you can’t go wrong!

(To be continued in Part Nine ~ Traffic, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Optimization)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Seven)

 Simplicity and Website Layout

          Simplicity

The best advice I can give when building your website can be summed up in one word, “simplicity”. If you want people to visit your website and then stay, simplicity is the answer! Let me explain. Search engine crawlers and very particular! They like simple things. They don’t like “flash”. They don’t like “digging too deep” into a website. They want a clear, simple path to find all that your website is offering. If you make it too difficult for them, you will loose your chances of high rankings. So what you might say! Well, without high search engine rankings, people will have a difficult time finding you. Of course, if you only want your friends to visit your website, you don’t have to worry. However, if you want new people to find you, search engines and their rankings are very important! The other reason for simplicity is that people, like search engine crawlers, don’t like complicated! If you make your website too complex, people will quickly become turned off and will leave your website quickly to find something simpler! If your object is to have people visit your site, stay for a while and then buy your products or services, keep it simple!

Website Layout


Like “Simplicity”, Website Layout is very important. This is true for many of the same reasons stated above. You need a nice clean layout that allows visitors (human and electronic) to easily travel around your website. Well marked page links, concise text and descriptive photos all make for a better site. Having accurate, uncomplicated information on your entry page (normally your “Home” page) gives your visitors a clear picture of who you are. Giving visitors the ability to easily look through your website will keep them on it for a longer time. If you are selling products or services, having well written descriptive text is imperative.  Easy to follow instructions on how to make a purchase will help you make more sales. Always remember, when building your website, it is for the benefit of your customers, not a monument for you and your web designer!


(To Be Continued in Part Eight ~ Contact Information and Linking)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Six)

Page Content and Site Updating

Web Page Content

As search engines become more sophisticated, web page content becomes more important. Content should be written in an interesting informative way. It should relate to your website and its purpose. One way of relating is it is by using your keywords and key phrases, but not too often. According to Mike Small, a veteran SEO specialist (http://www.seopartner.com/), the rule of thumb is not to mention your keywords more than 4 times per page and to split them equally between paragraphs. Two mentions of your most important keyword in the first section is the only exception. He goes on to say that there should be between 150 and 250 words of text per keyword. Finally, he says to mention each keyword towards the end of the page. This shows overall consistency and topic authenticity.

Keeping your visitors interested in your website and having them stay on it for several minutes will help increase your site’s search engine rankings.

Website Updating
Another way of promoting your website is to update your pages frequently. Adding pages can also helpful. The pages must be added for a meaningful purpose, not just for search engine show. Keeping you website up-to-date and accurate shows search engines that your website has substance and is important to its visitors! Besides, it you don’t keep your contents up-to-date all the time, why would people want to visit your site more then a few times, even if you have an interesting site? I think the key to having a great site is to put you as being one of its visitors. What would you like to see as a visitor? How often would you go onto your site if you were a visitor and why? Answering these questions will help you think about your site more often and will help you manage it better! Remember the old saying “Treat others as you would have them treat you”. If you and your site “treat” visitors well, your website will be a great hit!

(To be continued in Part Seven ~ Simplicity and Website Layout)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Five)

  

Building Your Website - The Importance of Text

 Use of Keywords in Text
Just as the selection of keywords is important, making sure that they are seen and found is also important! In order to optimize your keywords, they need to be mentioned several times throughout your text. However, their placement must make sense. As I have previously said, search engines are becoming much more sophisticated each day and can tell when a site is trying to fool them into giving a higher ranking then is deserved. They don’t take kindly to this and can penalize. The penalization may or may not be warranted, but regaining ranking is a Herculean task. Assuming you are creating a legitimate website, let your information and expertise be your “Calling Card”. Ultimately this strategy will become the benchmark for website ranking.

Highlighting Text
As it stands right now, web crawlers are sent out by search engines to find keywords. Just including the keywords in your text will help, but won’t make them outstanding. Highlighting keywords (bold, underlined and italicized) will really help. Remember, though, this is how it works now, but likely, not in the future. You need to either keep up with internet technology yourself or find someone you trust to do it for you. Like the Boy Scout motto says, “Be Prepared”!

(To be continued in Part Sis ~ Page Content and Site Updating)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Three)

 

Meta Elements... 

Meta Tags and Descriptions
In my previous articles I mentioned the importance of keywords. Keywords act as your 24/7 electronic “Business Card”. They are part of what search engine crawlers are looking for. Because they are important, it is imperative that you and your website designer consider them carefully. Keywords can either be a single word or a “string” of words. They need to reflect what people, who are looking for your kind of website, will type into the search engine for their “search”. The more specific your keywords, the more qualified the visitors to your site. Well thought out keywords can also increase your chances of being on the front page of search engines. When you are thinking of what your keywords should be, think what you would type in to find your kind of product or service. In other words, become the visitor!

Meta Description
The Meta description describes and defines what your website is all about. The description has to been short and concise and, most important of all, it has to be accurate. Although Meta descriptions don’t affect your search engine ranking, they do help categories your website, especially with human searchers. They tell the searcher what to expect in your website and hopefully draw them to enter your site. As with keywords, careful thought should be given to your Meta description.

It should be additionally noted that each “important” page in your website should contain both keywords and Meta descriptions. Each page can and should be you silent, 24/7, sales partner!

(To be continued in Part Four ~ Use of Keywords in Text)

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Building Your Website (Part Two)

 

1.    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

As I mention in my previous article, building you website so that it attracts Search Engines is an absolute must! There are many things within a website that search engine “web crawlers” look for. (Wikipedia describe them as follows: A web crawler (also known as a web spider, web robot, or—especially in the FOAF community—web scutter) is a program or automated script which browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner.) “Crawlers” are what search engines “send out” to gather up-to-date website information. Search engines use this information for each website to categorize it and to rank it. Some web designers think that all they have to do is to insert some keywords and search engines will love them. This may have been true a few years ago, but, “times, they are a changing!” Search engines are becoming much more sophisticated and are now looking, in addition to keywords, at Meta descriptions, page content, outside links, website continuity and site and content relevance.  If you haven’t included all of these into your website you won’t likely be highly rated by search engines! Being to “cute” also does not help! Search engine companies don’t like it when you try to fool them. If they find out that you have been “fixing” your site too much, they may penalize you or, worse, delete you from their search engine entirely. Having someone you can consult with about the intricacies of website construction and search engine optimization will go a long way to having the type of website you deserve!

(To be continued in Part Three ~ Meta Elements)

Monday, August 24, 2020

Building Your Website (Part One)

 

Building Your Website ~ Site Construction

Over the past year or so, I have talked about the importance of festivals and events having good websites. In my last blog I described a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a website designer/marketer. Over the next few blogs I am going to expand on what my friend told me. I don’t pretend to be a website expert, but over the past few years, in developing our website, https://ontariovisited.ca/, I have learned a few tricks. Some were by design, but most were by accident! The results, however, have given us a successful website. 


1.    Site Construction: Having a website is easy! With the right tools or the right amount of money anyone can have a website. However, having a website is like owning a car. If you have a poor engine you may or may not get to where you want to go. If you have a great engine, you will get to where you want to go with ease! If you have no engine… while you get the picture! Having a great “engine” is the only way to go, so make sure you find out how to get a great engine! Experienced web designers build websites to attract two types of visitors, human and search engines. Search engines are the most important because they direct humans to websites. Each visitor is looking for different things and so, as I said before to have to appeal to both to succeed. The construction of your website needs a sound foundation that includes all the fundamentals of successful sites, that is well written code. Search engines can and will penalize sites for poorly written code. So, if you are designing your website yourself, check with an expert to make sure your site is constructed properly. There are website evaluators out there who can help you and set you straight if need be. If you don’t want to design your own site, make sure you hire someone who has all the necessary skills to construct you site properly. Remember, a website that doesn’t attract search engines or humans is a site without an “engine”!

(To be continued ~ "Optimization" in Part Two)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

What’s in Your Website? (Part Two)

 

I have been thinking a lot lately about my websites. I have three active festival and event sites. I want to know if they are as effective as I want (need) them to be. In talking with a web designer friend, I realized that they all needed to be re-evaluated! I asked him to explain what the key ingredients where for a successful website. He started to answer me in another language, techno speak! I told him to slow down and talk to me in a language I could understand, English! He did and we covered a wide range of topics. Here is a summary of our conversation. In future blogs I will try to explain his ideas more fully and hopefully in “plain” English! (continued)

6.    Web Pages – Each important page (home, about us, products, etc.) should be optimized (keywords, description, highlighting).

7.    Updating – Sites should be frequently updated and the information must be correct and consistent.

8.    Simplicity – Simplicity is best, especially the home page, in web design, page layout and contents.

9.    Website Layout – Sites should be easy to maneuver. Complicated site discourages visitors from surfing through your site’s pages.

10. Contact Information – Make sure that visitors to your site have a way of contacting you. Since the contact is being made via the internet, e-mail contact is a must.

11. Linking – Encouraging another website to link with yours is important. However, the linked sites should have relevancy to you business or site. Linking for the sake of linking is not a good move.

12. Traffic – Finally, the goal of every site should be increased traffic (visitors to your site). How you design and manage your site will determine its popularity and thus traffic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

What’s the Real Solution? (Part One)

 How many times have we heard politicians and special interest groups call for drastic legislation as a “knee-jerk” reaction to a problem? You don’t need a fish net to catch a fly! Unfortunately, many make far reaching demands without worrying about the consequences. And the problem is, once a law is on the books it stays there! Rarely, if ever, is a law, good, bad or outdated taken, off the books! So, poorly thought out laws either create havoc or are just ignored! Most of these groups and politicians are well meaning. They see a problem and want it corrected. That’s fine if it really does solve the problem, but too often the solution goes way beyond the actual problem, thus the net to catch a fly analogy. New laws must be thoroughly thought through and all of the ramification must be considered. Consider the banning of all plastic water bottles. I have heard towns and groups advocating banning them entirely. Why not work jointly with water companies and plastic bottle manufacturers to come up with a safe acceptable solution. Similarly, I have heard some groups want paper coffee cups banned. The same applies here get all the interested parties together and fine a solution.

(Continued in Part Two) 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

What’s in Your Website? (Part 1)

I have been thinking a lot lately about my websites. We have a number of active festival and event sites. We want to know if they are as effective as we wanted (needed) them to be. In talking with our web designer friend, we realized that they all needed to be re-evaluated! I asked him to explain what the key ingredients where for a successful website. He started to answer me in another language, techno speak! I told him to slow down and talk to me in a language I could understand, English! He did and we covered a wide range of topics. Here is a summary of our conversation. In future blogs, I will try to explain his ideas more fully and hopefully in “plain” English!

1.    SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” – Simple put, getting search engines to recognize your site. Once a site is recognized it is categorized (keywords) and then listed in importance.

2.    Meta Tags and Keywords – These are words inserted in your website. They attract search engines to your site and its pages.

3.    Meta Description – This is the description that appears in you search engine listing

4.    Use of Keywords in Text – In order to emphasize keywords, they must be used often in the text of the web page

5.    Highlighting Text – Once keywords are chosen and inserted, they must be shown as being important. This is accomplished by highlighting (bold, italicized, underlined) each keyword.

(To be continued in Part 2)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Step Up to The Plate…

How many times have you made a promise to do something and then forgotten to do it? Or, how many times have you asked someone to do something for you and they have forgotten? How did you feel when it happened to you? It’s definitely important to keep your word when family, friends and bosses are involved, but what about casual contacts? I believe it’s important to keep all of your promises. Have I ever messed up? Yes, but I really make a conscientious effort not to. I can’t tell you how many times Gary and I have asked someone to send us information about their event or product and not received the information! It’s not only rude, it’s very poor business! I have participated in many events, where people have asked me to send information. I do, and most times I don’t get any response. It can be and is frustrating, but do I stop sending information? The answer is, of course, no. I guess some people become stilted and only go through the motions of promising to do something even though they have no intention of following through. They feel that they are just “wasting” their “valuable” time, responding to someone who doesn’t really want the requested information! It’s too bad, in our case, because we usually want to promote their product or event on our website for free! If we don’t hear from them, we don’t promote! Look at the Babe Ruth. He struck out many more times than he hit and yet he was considered the greatest Baseball Player of all time! If you can’t or won’t follow-up, be honest, tell that to the person who requested the information. They may not like it, but they will at least respect you for telling them the truth! So, when you say that you are going to do something, “Step up to the plate” and follow through, you may hit a HOME RUN!


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Setting the Stage…


In real estate jargon they say a great looking house has “curb appeal”. When they want to make the inside of a house more appealing, they call it staging! What they are talking about is marketing, making the house saleable. There are lots of television programs on the air right now about this subject. Festivals and events should learn from the real estate industry!  Festival and event organizers should pay greater attention on how their event looks, both on the inside and the outside! An appealing outside will attract people; make them want to come in to “check” the event out. A well planned inside will make them want to stay, spend money and tell their friends about the great event! It will also bring them back, year after year. “Setting the stage” is easy to do, but it takes thought and planning. Not just the day before the event starts, but right from the beginning. Staging an event includes the basics such as, great location, well planned site layout, interesting activities and events, clean and convenient washrooms and informed volunteers. It also includes the not so basics, well place signs and a lot of them, a simple but effective internet website, happy and enthusiastic vendors and a workable “green” plan! Really, proper “staging” is the anatomy of a well-run successful event. The more effort that is put into this area, the better the final outcome will be. And this, in today’s competitive and costly environment, will mean the different between survival, growth and prosperity or defeat, lose and closure!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Lost Opportunity… (Part Two)


We couldn’t find any of them and we looked. We tried to find an event organizer or a festival program guide, but could not. We drove around town looking for signs that would point us in the rights direction. There were no directional signs to be found anywhere! We drove all around town looking for any information. The only thing we saw were a few large signs telling us to call a number for information and tickets. Even the festival information we printed off the event’s website was hard to read and incomplete. We weren’t looking for problems. We really wanted to enjoy this event! After all, we had driven several hours to get to it! So here are the basic problems with this event:
1.    No directional signage
2.    Lack of communications
3.    Poorly designed website
4.    No informational signage
5.    Cancelled or “no show” events
6.    A parade that wasn’t theme driven
These are all solvable problems (challenges). It’s just that the event organizers have to recognize and acknowledge that the challenges exist and that is where the greatest challenge likely is. Most organizers don’t like to think they have to change and correct, but they do! Good festivals, events and businesses are constantly evaluating themselves and making changes and adjustments as necessary. Hopefully the organizers of this event will recognize the need for change. Otherwise it will be an “opportunity lost”!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Lost Opportunity… (Part One)

We visited an event that had great theme and a lot of potential! Unfortunately, it fell far short of being the really special event it could have been. I know that the organizers work very hard each year, so the problem was not for lack of effort. So, what went wrong? The event has been running for many years, so perhaps it needs new direction, a re-evaluation. On the day that we visited the festival, there was a whole day of events scheduled. We arrived about noon, just in time for the start of the downtown festival parade. It was a long interesting parade and would have been perfect if it was just a town parade. However, the parade was supposed to represent the festival’s theme and it did everything but! There was very little in the parade that tied to the fun and spirit of the festival’s theme! After the parade there were a number of activities scheduled to take place in the downtown area.

(To be continued in Part Two) 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

There Must Be A Reason… (Part Two)


Many event organizers believe that they need vendors to enhance their event. This, however, is only true if they have planned vendor sales as part of their festival’s program. Anything less than this is irresponsible! Most vendors are small entrepreneurial business people who “live” and “die” by their sales. Poor sales can be disastrous!  There are enough uncontrollable elements that can affect their sales. They don’t need poor planning and apathetic organizers adding to these elements! Careful planning and intelligent promotion is a must! Festival organizers should make sure that if they are going to have a vendors’ section that it is well thought out and that they attract the right mix of vendors. Vendors, on the other hand, should know as much about the festival or event as possible and then asked a lot probing questions. Only then, once they are satisfied with what they have read and heard, should they agree to participate.

On a final note to organizers, if your festival runs into weather related problems and the financial results are poor, please remember your vendors. Most festivals are run by volunteers and are non-profit. If the festival loses money, there is no financial lose to the volunteers. On the other hand, weather can ruin vendors financially, especially if they have to pay large festival fees on top of their traveling and out of pocket expenses. Try to preplan a policy that takes these vendor losses into consideration. I know you don’t have a legal responsibility to help them, but I believe you have a moral responsibility to minimize their losses. Besides, I think it’s good business in the long run. Good hard-working vendors are hard to kind and keep!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

There Must Be A Reason… (Part One)

It always amazes me when we go to a festival or event and find vendors that shouldn’t be there. I don’t mean that it’s the vendors fault. They are only going where they think the money is! Most of the vendors who go to these events are novices. However, when they don’t make any money or possibly lose some, they quickly learn, the hard way, to ask more questions from event organizers before they sign on the dotted line! Frankly, I think organizers who insist on having a vendors’ section even though it has no benefit to the event are misguided and are likely novices themselves!  Without proper planning and marketing, vendor sections are doomed to failure! Vendors participate in festivals and events to sell their products and to make money! If an event is going to ask vendors to participate, the organizers need to provide the type of atmosphere that is conducive to buyers buying. 

(To be continued in Part Two)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

What’s In A Name? (Part 2)


The Calgary Stampede started out as just an idea many years ago and now the whole city becomes involved. If you are not wearing a Stetson during the Stampede people will look at you strangely.  The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is the same. Most everyone there gets into the spirit of the event. Yes, these are larger established events, but it’s the spirit that matters and the residents of these communities have the spirit! I believe that is why they have had such great success. I can remember as a kid during Christmas, our village became totally engrossed in Christmas decorating. Doors were decorated, trees and houses were totally lite up with Christmas lights and most lawns had Christmas displays. People took pride in their homes and their community and it showed. People from all over flocked to our community just to see what the village residents had done. This tradition happened year after year and droves of people returned each year. It may seem like you have enough to do just organizing your event, but the positive benefits of having your community become “the event” will pay huge dividends in both the number of visitors and the dollars spent. The more interesting you can make your event, the better your event will become. Attention to details, large and small, is important to successful events!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What’s In A Name? (Part 1)

I like visiting festivals that have a theme. The theme gives me a better idea of what to expect. I like it even better when a whole community becomes involved in the theme! This is especially true of festivals that have a theme that can be easily embraced by the community. A pumpkin festival, for example, makes a great theme and allows residents and businesses to easily become involved. Residents can create scarecrows and put them on their lawns and in their windows. They can carve scary pumpkins and put them on their front porches. Business can decorate their buildings and business windows. They and their employees can dress up to add excitement to the theme. The festival committee can encourage participation by offering prizes for involvement. Local media can become involved by enthusiastically promoting the theme. It’s a domino effect that keeps building with momentum.

(Continued in Part 2)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Crowd Control…


A few years ago, Gary and I went to Upper Canada Village for an 1812 re-enactment battle. The battle took place on a large open field and the audience was able to watch the battle while sitting on the side of a shaded hill. It was a perfect theatre. The field was “roped off” to prevent onlookers from wandering onto the battle grounds and joining the battle. We arrived in plenty of time to get a good viewing area. Additional people arrived even after the start of the battle. As the hillside filled up and more onlookers came to watch the re-enactment, they started taking spots at the rope barrier. They stood there to watch the activities. Soon the complete barrier line was filled with people! The people who had planned their time and who had come early to get a good viewing spot had their view blocked by the late comers up front! I can’t understand the mentality of people who arrive late for an event and then think they have the right to block the view of those who came early. Frankly, I find this type of behavior rude and unacceptable! What is even worse is the most festivals and events allow this to happen and then don’t take any action to prevent or correct it! Fortunately, this was not the case at the Upper Canada Village re-enactment! As soon as the announcer noticed what was happening, he stopped describing the battle and asked the people up front to move away from the rope barrier and take places on the hill. The press who were taking photographs were allowed to stay but were asked sit down on the ground and to keep a low profile. My congratulations to the organizers of Upper Canada Village re-enactment! I can only hope that more organizers will take action against the few rude and annoying people who consider it their right to come late and then get a front seat view!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Vendors Talk… (Part 2)


Successful vendors are willing to pay “fair” booth fees. More money to go back into the community! And remember, attendees and vendors TALK! Attendees tell their friends and their friends tell their friends! It’s called the “rippling effect”. Bad news travels fast! As for vendors, they also talk. Vendors love to network. This may come as a surprise to some festival organizers, but vendors, especially the more experienced ones, talk to one another regularly! They know which festivals are the best to attend for sales. They know which festivals treat their vendors well and who treat them poorly! Any festival that wants to become and stay successful should be acutely aware of these realities and plan their festivals accordingly! Here are our vendor friendly five tips:
1.    Provide a “booth sitting” service
2.    Provide vendor only washrooms and a clean-up area
3.    Provide “food delivery” service
4.    Have a rest area for vendors and their staff where they can relax and snooze in peace
5.    Provide vendor only parking areas

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Vendors Talk… (Part 1)

A some time ago, Gary and I had dinner with friends of ours. They were in town (Cobourg) to attend the Cobourg Highland Games as vendors. During our meal the conversation naturally turned to festivals and how they treat their vendors. Our friends commented on how differently each event treats their vendors. Some treat vendors as partners, while others treat them as a necessary evil! As a vendor I certainly know which festivals I would be selling my merchandise at! I believe that if a festival or event is going to have merchants as part of the event, they should attract the very best and then treat them like gold! They are the ones who pay the booth fees and attract the crowds to the events! For many festivals they are the main attraction! Festival organizers should realize that the better the quality of vendors they have at their event, the more people they will attract. It’s a big circle! Good vendors attract good attendees. Great vendors attract great and more attendees! Ones who will be willing to spend money! The more people spend, the more vendors earn. The more the vendors earn, the more an event can charge them.

(to be continued in Part 2)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Survival…


I was reading an article in a US newspaper that had bold headlines reading “Festivals across US downsize or cancel because of economy “. The reasons given were the reduction or elimination of sponsorship dollars, higher costs and fewer attendees. Both corporations and attendees are feeling the economic pinch, falling sales for corporations and higher gasoline costs for attendees. For many people the cost of getting there is just becoming too expensive. With costs increasing for festivals, organizers have to take a much closer look at their budgets and profitability. Even though many festivals are organized and managed by non-profit organizations, excess monies are usually invested back into organization’s community. Members of the organization usually throw themselves into a festival project because of the charitable factor. Without profits, many groups are now re-evaluating their role. Some, as the newspaper article says, are downsizing while others are simply canceling. Rather than “throwing in the towel” and giving up, these groups should re-evaluate themselves and find innovative ways to grow and prosper. For me, this doesn’t mean increasing the admission costs or the booth fees. It means taking an honest comprehensive look at all aspects and then coming up with responsible solutions. The first few years may not produce high profits, but hard work, time and intelligent perseverance will. Remember everything is cyclical and the economy will bounce back, but if you leave the game or diminish your product (festival) everyone will lose! Festivals are an intricate and vital part of every community! What your group does now and how it responds to the challenges of today WILL affect tomorrow.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Change… (Part Two)


Most banquets are still using the same fundraising formula that was used when I entered the business! Today’s banquet proceeds and attendance is considerably down. I am not advocating that change has to be done on a wholesale basis. I think that evaluation of your event regularly and then comparing it to today’s realities is important and necessary! Looking into the future and planning for it is just smart business! Consider all the corporations that no longer exist because they couldn’t accept change and embrace it!

 There is a major, very successful event in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, the K-W Oktoberfest. I was at a conference where the Executive Director talked about his festival and how they developed a new 5-year plan. He told us that they did this re-evaluation regularly and that they were in the process of revamping their volunteer program. It wasn’t because their program and volunteers were bad; actually, it was quite the contrary. Their volunteer program was second to none! It is just that they wanted to offer their patrons and visitors a Disney-like experience. To accomplish this, it meant re-educating and re-focusing their volunteers. A huge task, but well worth it!
Festivals and events are a major part of all our communities and far too important to wither up and die!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Change… (Part One)



Gary and I were watching an interview with the president of USAC (United States Auto Club). The interviewer asked the president how he was going to improve USAC. His reply was simple. They were going to have to change, to appeal to more people, to appeal to different demographic groups. 

This interview started me thinking about festivals and events. I remembered a conversation that I was part of. It happened a few years ago. We were talking about the future direction of a major festival. One of the principal organizers thought for a moment about the direction of his portion of the festival and then said, “You know, we’ve been pretty successful over the years, I don’t see any need for change.” In his mind this was absolutely true. His portion of the festival is still going, but, in my mind, it seems to be losing the vitality it had a number of years ago. I wonder of how many other festival and event organizers refuse to consider change as part of the management process? I believe too many! I worked in the wildlife conservation banquet business for over 20 years.

To be continued in Part Two...

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Washroom Facilities… Part 2


The following is a list of my top washroom facilities “pet peeves”:
  1. Poorly located facilities, especially for visitors who need to use the facilities frequently
  2. Too few washrooms for the size of the event
  3. Lack of or no disabled facilities
  4. Unclean and poorly maintained facilities
  5. No wash-up stations
  6. Poorly stocked facilities (toilet paper, water, towels, soap, etc.)
Organizers should make sure they inspect the washroom facilities that they are renting to ensure that they are good quality and reflect the quality of the event. They should also insist on frequent clean out, even if it costs a little more. Finally, organizers should ask for references and check them out. Remember these washroom facilities are an intricate part of your festivals reputation.

Having washroom high on your priority list will pay big dividends. If it works for Disney, it will work for you. Your visitors will appreciate your efforts!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Washroom Facilities… Part 1

Why do washroom facilities for a lot of festivals and events seem to be an after thought? It is very disappointing to find poorly placed and badly maintained and equipped facilities! It is almost as though event organizers are embarrassed that they have to provide washroom facilities! They place them in out of the way locations, not taking into consideration those who need them the most. It’s like they don’t want the washroom facilities to interfere with the rest of the festival! I have been told that Disney Parks place a great deal of attention to their facilities. Only senior trained staff is allowed to maintain their facilities. They realize that clean washroom well stocked washroom facilities reflect their entire operation! So, if it such a high priority to Disney, why isn’t it important to most Ontario festival and event organizers? This is such an easy way to win the hearts and loyalty of the patrons!

Continued in Part 2...