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"!

Friday, January 21, 2022

Top Ten Festival Challenges (Part One)

 Over the years, we have visited over 200 Ontario festivals and events. Although I have found them have been interesting and enjoyable to visit, I have also seen many challenges.  In this article I will describe 5 of the Top Ten Challenges I have experienced.

4. WASHROOM FACILITIES – Having clean and accessible washroom facilities is an absolute must! I am always surprised when I see an event where organizers have decided to “hide” their facilities! This happens far too often! It is as though they are trying to ignore the fact that everyone needs to use these facilities at some time. If they are worried about the look, they should pay more attention to what facilities they order and who they order them from. Washroom facilities don’t have to look unpleasant. The other concern is keeping them clean and well stocked. This not only includes toilet paper but soap and water as well. It’s not a good enough excuse to say that they were used more often than anticipated! Having event staff check them regularly should be a given. Many of the greatest tourist attractions of the world consider washroom management their number one priority. I believe that festival organizers have a responsibility to provide the best washroom facilities possible! Welland’s IlluminAqua provides convenient portable washrooms beside their new amphitheatre. These facilities are both clean and convenient.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Top Ten Festival Challenges (Part One)

Over the years, we have visited over 200 Ontario festivals and events. Although I have found them have been interesting and enjoyable to visit, I have also seen many challenges.  In this article I will describe 5 of the Top Ten Challenges I have experienced.

 3. COST VERSUS VALUE – With today’s economy, providing great value has become very important! Giving more then what is expected or promised will help attract a lot of event visitors! Having a reasonable “gate fee” has now become a necessary reality. Although having a “free gate” can work in a festivals favour, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success or visitors! Festival visitors are becoming more and more sophisticated and are expecting and demanding more from the events they visit. To reach maximum potential, organizers have to give careful attention to what they are offering. Organizers should concentrate on quality rather than quantity. One of the best paid admission events that we have visited is the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). The CNE provide wonderful entertainment for the whole family at a very reasonable cost. As for a “free gate” event, you can’t beat the Burlington Sound of Music Festival. This Festival provides several free concerts stages throughout the downtown area.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Top Ten Festival Challenges (Part One)

 Over the years, we have visited over 200 Ontario festivals and events. Although I have found them have been interesting and enjoyable to visit, I have also seen many challenges.  In this article I will describe 5 of the Top Ten Challenges I have experienced.

2. WEBSITES – Websites are becoming an integral part of festival and event marketing. If a website is constructed properly it can attract 100’s of new festival visitors. Conversely a poorly designed website can deter people from visiting an event, so it makes good sense to design and maintain a great website! Here are a few tips.

Ø  Properly designed so that it attracts and is friendly towards the major search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing (MSN)

Ø  Interesting and informative content that is attractive to website visitors and easy to navigate. The objective should be to engage the visitor so that they will stay and read the event’s message and then, ultimately visit the event.

Ø  Provide sufficient festival/event information including location(s), dates, times, activities, site map and contact information (contact name, e-mail address, mailing address and telephone numbers, especially during the event)

Note: Don’t make your website too fancy! Not everyone knows how to navigate complicated websites. This can be a real turn-off.

One of the best event websites I have visited recently was the one for the Norwood Fall Fair. It was easy to use and contained great event informative information.


Friday, December 31, 2021

Top Ten Festival Challenges (Part One)

 Over the years, we have visited over 200 Ontario festivals and events. Although I have found them have been interesting and enjoyable to visit, I have also seen many challenges.  In this article I will describe 5 of the Top Ten Challenges I have experienced.

    1. SIGNAGE – The number one complaint that I have with festivals and events is their lack of adequate and informative signage! This includes both directional and informational signage. Having little or no signage for local residents may be okay, but if an event wants to attract out-of-town visitors, sufficient signage is a must! As I have written in the past, having great signage can be a real opportunity! No only is it pleasing and helpful to your visitors, it can also help your festival’s bottom line! Selling sponsors space on your signs should be simple if approached in a professional manner. Sponsors like value and want to be noticed. Signs provide a perfect way to accomplish this. The Winona Peach Festival provides wonderful directional signage. They have event exit signs on the highway, a very smart and courageous thing to do. Smart because the signs draw visitors off the highway to their event and courageous because the ministry does not appreciate unauthorized highway signs! The Cobourg Waterfront Festival has large informational signs posted at several entry points. These signs also include the names of their sponsors.
(To be continued)

Friday, December 24, 2021

Preliminary Planning – Considerations (Continued)

 4. WILL IT MEET THE NEEDS OF…? – When planning a festival or event you have to consider whether or not your event “meets the needs” in several areas. Here are some of the areas that need “consideration”.

Volunteers – Most volunteers work on a project for a specific reason. It could be that they are a member of a service organization that is either organizing the event or helping run the event. Or, it could be that the volunteer is interested in the theme or content of the event. Whatever their reason, the event must meet their needs to keep them interested and involved. Having a well-defined plan, that is followed closely, should resolve this challenge.

Participants – Whatever type of festival or event you want to hold, you are likely going to have “participants”. The participants could be anything from performers to vendors to suppliers. Each of these needs should be considered. Performers will want to know that their performance area will meet their need, equipment, sound system, dressing area, etc. Vendors will want to know where they are going to be located and who is beside them. Most importantly, they will want to know that you have planned the event so that they can sell their produces and make money! Suppliers will want to know when you need their supplies and if you need them to deliver them to you. They will also want to know when and how you are going to pay them. With considering and satisfying these needs, your event will have a rocking time.

Visitors – Finally, visitors will want to know how your event is going to meet their needs: cost versus quality of event, type of events and activities, times, location, etc. The more clearly you know who your audience is and what will attract them, the more successful your event will be! (To be continued)


Friday, December 17, 2021

Event Development (continued)

 The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. Several years ago, I started the series with the first section, “Initial Development”. The second section is entitled “Research and Preliminary Planning”. Now that you and your team have decided to proceed with the event, it’s time to get serious! As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Research and Preliminary Planning

You’ve determined that you “financially” want to proceed with your festival or event and you and your committee have completed plenty of “research”. Now it’s time to start your “Preliminary Planning”.

Preliminary Planning – Considerations (Continued)

  1. WILL IT MEET THE NEEDS OF…? – When planning a festival or event you have to consider whether or not your event “meets the needs” in several areas. Here are some of the areas that need “consideration”.

Volunteers – Most volunteers work on a project for a specific reason. It could be that they are a member of a service organization that is either organizing the event or helping run the event. Or, it could be that the volunteer is interested in the theme or content of the event. Whatever their reason, the event must meet their needs to keep them interested and involved. Having a well defined plan, that is followed closely, should resolve this challenge.

Community – Each community has its own set of needs. This includes community residents, businesses and the town and its council. You have to satisfy the needs of each of these “stakeholders”. For example, if you want to hold a “rock concert” in the town park and you haven’t satisfied the needs of the local residents, you will probably get a lot of opposition. If this happens, the event will likely not get off the ground. The type of considerations for residents could include sound levels, crowd control, traffic and parking. With local businesses, especially downtown merchants, you will want to consider their special concerns. Things like road closures, street traffic and drawing people away from the downtown shopping area on event day. If you don’t address these concerns, the businesses will become very vocal and your event will be in trouble. Finally, there is the town and the town council. You will need their blessings and okay to proceed. They will want to know that you have considered such things as policing, road closures, garbage, use of town property, etc. If you haven’t given careful consideration to these areas, your event likely won’t even get started! Like with the volunteers, having a strong detailed plan will go a long way in helping your event get off the ground and then succeed!

(To be continued)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Event Development (continued)

The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. Several years ago, I started the series with the first section, “Initial Development”. The second section is entitled “Research and Preliminary Planning”. Now that you and your team have decided to proceed with the event, it’s time to get serious! As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Research and Preliminary Planning

You’ve determined that you “financially” want to proceed with your festival or event and you and your committee have completed plenty of “research”. Now it’s time to start your “Preliminary Planning”.

 

Preliminary Planning – Considerations (Continued)

3. WILL IT ATTRACT PEOPLE? – Developing and holding a festival or event is one thing, but if it doesn’t attract people to it, that’s another thing! It’s like the philosophical riddle “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” In this case, “If you hold an event that no one comes to, will anyone care?” The answer, of course is “yes”! You and your organizing committee will care! Your community will care! And, your vendors, supplies and sponsors will care! That’s why it is so important plan and execute an event that will attract people! The number people you will want to attract will depend on what your expectations and needs are. In a previous section I talked about the need for research. In it I said that “you needed to know who your audience was and what they wanted”. Knowing this is the key to attracting visitors to your event. As I mentioned, this is where networking comes into play. There is no reason to “re-invent the wheel”. Your town administrators and other event organizers will, from experience, be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a chance or experiment. It does mean that you should have a pretty good feeling of what will work for you and your audience. Good solid research should allow you to have that “feeling”! However, whatever you eventually decide to offer, it has to be the “best” that you can do! To go just halfway is a recipe for disaster and you will not only cheat yourselves but also all your stakeholders! You are much better to offer fewer high-quality activities and events, then a lot of poor-quality ones! Too many organizers feel that they have to offer too much to justify their existence. This “feeling” will only come back to haunt them! The other consideration in attracting visitors is cost versus value! Charging too much for the type of audience you are trying to attract is a sure way to fail! A better alternative than charging too much to balance your budget is find sponsors to help offset your costs. A word of caution, however, make sure that you also offer your sponsors value for their investment. If you do, it’s likely that that sponsor will stick with your event for many years. Make sure when you do approach a sponsor that tell them honestly what they can expect for their support.

(To be continued)