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, April 15, 2021

Event Development (continued)

 The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. Several months 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

Money (continued)

Monies Needed Before the Event

The following are some of the areas I think need to be researched and considered. Depending on the type of festival or event you are planning, more cost areas will likely need to be researched. Hopefully the following will get you started. Most of the big expenses will need contracts and deposits. Make sure you know who you are dealing with before signing binding contracts and handing out large deposit cheques.

Facilities: If you need to rent a hall or grounds, you will probably need to give the owners a deposit. The amount will depend on the facility and the relationship you have with the owner. You will also have to sign a rental agreement where you will have to guarantee full payment. Also, if you cancel your event for some reason, there will likely be a “penalty clause” where you will be responsible for some additional payment or you will forfeit some or all of your deposit.

Tents: If you are holding an outdoor event, you may want to have a tent or tents or some kind of weather protection. If you decide rent tents, you will need to make a deposit. Plus, the tent company will most likely want a guarantee payment no matter what happens!

Electricity: If you are going to have vendors or performers at your event, you will have to provide electricity. If it’s an indoor facility, the building may or may not provide free electricity. If they don’t, you will make a deposit plus you may have to hire an electrician. This can be quite expensive unless you have someone on your committee who can do the work themselves. (To be continued)

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Event Development (continued)

 The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. Several months 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 has 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

Money

You haven’t forgotten about the money have you? No matter how large or small your project, you’ll need “start-up” money! You can’t ignore this part! You must let everyone in your group know that “seed” money will be required and exactly how much you will need. And, this should be determined BEFORE starting the project! The seed money includes any monies you will spend before income starts coming in. And, you have to be prepared for a loss, especially in today’s economic climate! There should now be any surprises. You need to thoroughly research your costs. Don’t minimize the amount to need. If anything, inflate your projected amount by 10 or 15 percent! It will save you a lot of grief in the long run! Remember too, the larger the project, the more you will likely need. So, what are the costs you could incur? I think it’s bets to put them into two categories, “Monies needed before the event” and “Monies needed during the event”. Next week I’ll talk about “Monies needed before the event”.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Pricing Your Event…

 Gary and I have been debating lately about the pros and cons of festival and event pricing. There are two thoughts. The first is to include all activities in the admission price, while the other is to price activities separately. This would allow visitors to pick and chose what they want to participate in. So, here are some of the pros and cons we thought of. I am sure that there are more. Please let us know what you think.

1.    One Fee Admission
Pros

  • Visitors know exactly what they are getting and at what cost
  • Festival organizers don’t have to worry about which events will earn enough money to pay for themselves
  • Festivals can experiment with new or innovative festival activities and events
  • Festival accounting would be easier to manage with a single fee
  • Fewer volunteers would be needed to collect money

Cons

  • The higher cost of a single fee might discourage some people from attending event
  • Some visitors may resent paying for festival events and activities they have no interest in
  • Might reduce the amount of potential income, especially if there are a number of popular festival activities and events to chose from

2.    Individual Fee Pricing
Pros

  • Might encourage more people to attend, especially young families
  • Allows people to chose what they want to see or participate in
  • Acts as a “survey” for festivals to determine which festival activities and events their “customers” are interested in
  • May be easier to attract event sponsors for specific festival activities or events

Cons

  • Difficult to manage and account monies
  • More volunteers needed for admission sales
  • Festival organizers may not be willing to take a chance on new festival activities or events
  • Visitors may resent being “nickeled and dimed”
  • Possibility of visitor not bringing enough “cash” and then being limited to the number of festival events and activities they are able to participate in

I guess, in the long run, you have to know who your customers are and what and how they are willing to pay. Perhaps the best idea is to have a combination of both pricing plans. That is, keep the main admission price low but charge extra for the more costly festival activities and events. The ultimate solution is to have the expensive events paid for by sponsors. Not an easy task in these economic times!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

There Is No Free Lunch…

 Whoever coined the phrase “there is no FREE lunch” (or should I say “no FREE promotion”), must never have worked on a festival or event committee! Getting FREE publicity or promotion is fairly easy. Getting a lot of the “right” kind of FREE publicity is an art! However, in order to get this type of FREE publicity, you have to offer something in return. Not money, but something of value. So, in a sense, the phrase may not be wrong after all! 

To get the best kind of free promotion or publicity, festival organizers have to determine what is special about their event and who it might appeal to. The list should be long and detailed. Once that list has been completed, an additional list should be developed with the names of people and corporations who would benefit from the event. The list would likely include doctors, dentists, lawyers and businesses (local, regional and national). It is all easy so far, right? With the “lists” completed, this is where the “art” comes in! You have to figure out what you can offer to get the maximum return, money, free merchandise, advertising, etc. All potential sponsors and donors have their own agenda. They are going to give your event something only if they perceive that they are getting value. 

The more value, the greater the contribution! If you are wondering what this means, take a look at the way NASCAR works with its sponsors… maximum exposure! You may not be interested in stock car racing, but a study of NASCAR is a study of the “Art of Promotion”! Everything that NASCAR does, the race tracks, the drivers, the car owners, the crew chiefs, the crew and the TV and radio stations all work together to promote their sponsors. As a result companies spend millions of dollars. 

This is a lesson that all festival and event organizers should learn and use. Working with media (newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV) is the same. What makes them tick? What do they need to promote your event? Find out and the “promotional kingdom” is yours! You cannot take, take, take and not give back! If you keep these thoughts in mind, promoting and publicizing your event for FREE will be “easy” and “artful”!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Event Development – Agreement and Size Matters

 The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. The last Blog started describing the “Direction” section, now I want to move to the “Agreement” and “Size Matters” section. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

12. Agreement

You have now made your formal presentation to your group. After much discussion, a decision has been made to go ahead with the event.  You know why you are holding it and you have fully discussed and decided the ultimate objective. All participants are in agreement. Right? Many projects start off with great enthusiasm, but when tough decisions (money!) need to be made, in fighting starts to take place if everyone is not on side. More potentially great projects have failed or don’t even take place because all the players can’t agree. Before starting, make sure everyone understands what the project is, what need to be accomplished and what sacrifices are likely. Do these before you get too far into your project!

13. Size Matters

Finally, how large an event do you want to hold? Remember larger events require more time, planning, commitment, member participation and money…and they have more problems! This is why it is important to know your ultimate goal. If it’s your first event, it may be prudent to scale back and learn from your mistakes. If you do decide to go for the “brass ring”, plan, plan, and plan!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Event Development – Direction (Part Five)

 The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. The last Blog started describing the “Commitment” section, now I want to move to the “Direction” section. This week’s Blog is the beginning of this section. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Direction (Continued)

9.    Committee selection

It’s time to select your committee. You just take anyone who volunteers and put them wherever they want to go… right? I wouldn’t recommend it. Your reputation depends on the outcome of this event. Are you going to put your reputation in the hands of just anyone? You wouldn’t do it in business, why would you do it as a volunteer. If you are going to lead the event, you have the right and obligation to choose the best people for the job. You might even have to go outside your group to find the right person. Take a look at each task, determine who in your group has the best qualifications to complete the job and then ask them to do it. If some you have chosen does not or cannot do the job, replace them immediately. I don’t mean that you should be cavalier or uncaring, but you have been asked to a job and it’s your obligation to complete it successfully. The person you are replacing will thank you in the long run because they will know themselves that can’t or won’t complete the job asked of them and will be fretting over it. Be kind but firm. As you are asking people to accept a task, make sure they know what you expect (written reports) and the timetable for completing the job.

10.    Organization and record keeping

A well run event is organized and has excellent records. Why… it’s just good business. Managing an event is just like running a small (and sometimes not so small) business. To be successful you need to be organized so that you keep the development and management of the event flowing smoothly. When problems arise, and they will, you will be able to handle them with ease. Keeping good record is also a must. It makes sense. Your group and the government need complete and accurate financial records. Your volunteers need to know what has been completed and what has to be done next. Next year’s committee doesn’t want to have to re-invent the wheel, plus they will want to learn by your mistakes… and yes, you will have made some mistakes! Finally, you will want to keep your group informed about your progress and the decisions you have made. Keeping records as events happen makes reporting a whole lot easier both for you and your committee. Trying to remember facts and details down the road is not fun and can lead to a lot of embarrassing moments.

11.    Group Approval

The moment of truth has arrived! You have the basics of your event. You know what you are holding. Why you are holding it. Who you are holding it for? When and where it is to be held and how you are going to get the job done. Now you have to sell it to your group and get their approval. (To be continued)

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Event Development – Direction (Part Four)

 The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. The last Blog started describing the “Commitment” section, now I want to move to the “Direction” section. This week’s Blog is the beginning of this section. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Direction (Continued)

8.    Formalizing your committee structure

Many groups and chair believe in a very informal structure. They believe that volunteers are volunteers and can’t be “bossed” around. This is true to a point, but I feel most people want some structure. They want to know that their leaders have a plan and know how to achieve it. Running a committee by the “seat of your pants” just doesn’t cut if with most people. So some kind of formalized structure is a good thing. Many liken it to a “benevolent dictatorship”. That may be going a little too far, but you get the picture. So how do we accomplish this? As I mentioned previously, knowing where you are going to end up is a great start. Choosing the right committee members and assigning tasks that are suited to them also helps. The actual running of the committee needs organization. I can’t count the number of meetings that I have attended that were completely unorganized and unstructured. Frankly, for the most part, they were a total waste of time and accomplished little or nothing. Here is what I feel are the minimum requirements for a well run committee and its meetings.

·         Written Action Plan and Budget

·         Job Descriptions

·         Written agenda that is distributed to committee member a day or two prior to the meeting

·         Written committee reports that are distributed at least 2 or 3 days prior to the meeting

·         Complete and accurate minutes of each meeting that are sent out to committee members within 3 days after the meeting

·         Using “parliamentary procedure” when an important idea needs to be formally approved by the committee

These may seem extreme to some, but following these simple procedures will minimize wasted time and volunteer frustration and help make your event successful. (To be continued)