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"!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Things That Make You Ask WHY… (Part Two)

The next day, bright and early, we arrived at the show. This is when the next series of “ask Why” started. It began when we were about to order ordered food. Two bottles of pop were going to cost us about $9.00 and a hamburger the same. Why do the food prices need to be so high? Is it because the food vendors have a captive audience and can charge as much as they like because people need to eat and are willing pay the high prices or, is because the facility owner charges the food vendors so much that they have to charge that much to make a decent profit. Perhaps it’s a combination of both. Whatever the answer it still makes you “ask WHY”. The most shocking “WHY” came when I tried to access the Internet! I just wanted to check my e-mails and do some work on my website during downtimes in the show. When I tried to log on, I got a message giving me to phone to arrange access. Instead of phoning, I walked to the facility office in the complex to arrange for access. I asked the girl in the office what I needed to do. She told me that there was a charge for access. I asked “how much” and she told me “750”. I said naively “$7.50”. She said “No sir that would be $750.00”. I could not believe what I had just so I asked her to repeat what she had said. The girl, a little embarrassed now, repeated the amount “$750.00”. I asked her “how they could justify such a price”. She shrugged her shoulders and said “I am sorry sir but that is the cost”. That was the end of our conversation. Needless to say I didn’t purchase access. So this brings me to my final “ask WHY”. How can they possibly justify charging this much? High speed wireless can be purchased for one year for less than half that price. I can understand charging that amount or more to a large corporation who needs a complicated installation, but all they needed to do for me, and others like me, is give me access through a username and password. Hotels do this for their customers all the time and don’t charge for it. Ultimately, it just makes you ask why!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Things That Make You Ask WHY… (Part One)

We had the opportunity to be an exhibitor at a large consumer show in Toronto, so I decided to check out the pricing. I was surprised how reasonably priced the booth was. Several years ago Judi and I had exhibited at the same show and the booth prices were almost the same. I also checked out the other costs associated with have a booth at the show. Such cost as installing electricity, renting furniture and obtaining a parking pass. The cost of the electricity was comparable to what we had paid before. The parking was comparable and this time we could park indoors. We had never rented furniture before, so I had nothing to compare prices with, but the show package seemed reasonable. With the pricing confirmed, we decided to go ahead with having a booth.

On set up day Gary packed the car and came to Toronto with my 14 year old nephew. I wasn’t feeling well so I asked my nephew to help with set up. When we got to the show, the security guard stopped us and asked my nephew how old he was. When he found out my nephew was only, he told us he had to be 16 to be allowed in. This was the first thing that made me “ask WHY”. The guard told us that it was the city’s rule and it was because there were “tow” operators in the building. I can understand now allowing little kids in the building, but a 14 year old is not a little kid (my nephew is almost taller than me and likely smarter). It seems to me that the government is using a cannon to kill a fly! Eventually we were allowed in and we set up the booth. 
(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Festivals within Attractions…

A few years we visited a festival that was held within a large well known attraction. The attraction, itself was great, but the festival it was trying hold, fell well short of expectations.
Gary and I thought, given the prestige and type of attraction, that the festival would be fun and interesting. Unfortunately it was far from it. After entering the attractions grounds, we started to look to see where the festival portion was being held. As we passed through the gates, there was a large festival sign greeting us. However, there were no directional signs to tell us which way to go. After looking around for a short time, we asked a passing by volunteer where the festival was being held. He pointed to a foot path and said “just follow the path and you will come to it”. What he failed to point out was that there were several paths that split off from the path he pointed to. After several attempts to find the festival area, we came across it by chance. We had passed it once before, but there were no signs and the “festival” grounds were very small, with little apparent activity. It was no wonder that we had missed it the first time past. The “festival” volunteers were trying hard to make the most of the event, but there were too few activities to make it interesting. While we were there, very few people came to the site. I believe that if an attraction is going to hold a festival or event within its grounds, it should put its best “foot” forward. Unfortunately, that is not what happened here.

Festivals and events will bring people to an attraction. If the event is interesting and well run they will come back and bring their friends. However, the converse is true. If the festival or event is uninteresting and poorly run, people will stop coming to the attraction and will tell their friends about their experience. If an attraction is going to hold separate events, they must treat them as a “total attraction experience” not just as an “afterthought”!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Basics Make Good Cents…

Some time ago, I wrote about the “Disney” experience and how well trained the volunteers were to make this experience happen. This week I want to continue this thought, not with volunteers (although well trained volunteers always make things happen), but with executing the basics in extraordinary ways.
I have heard, and I am not sure whether it’s true or not, that Disney only allows well trained senior staff to clean and maintain its washrooms. I like the idea, because it shows how much emphasis Disney places on the “Disney Experience”. In short, they not only pay attention to the small details, they live by them! I think clean, well-stocked washrooms are a true indicator of the quality of an attraction or event. To me, it shows that management cares about the people it serves. Let’s face it, if they care about the state of their washrooms, it gives a very clear indication that they care about the quality of all that they do.
So why is it that so many of the festivals, events and attractions we visit fall down in this area? I don’t think it’s because they don’t care or that they are unclean people. I think organizers and mangers get so wrapped up in the “big” problems that they forget about the “little” things. It’s too bad, because I think they are missing a great opportunity to please their customers (attendees) and, happy and please customers spend money!! I believe that all festivals and events should appoint a senior dedicated volunteer to oversee this responsibility. If Disney thinks it’s the right thing to do, festivals and events should too! These volunteers should be assigned to pay attention to the “little” details that mean so much. Details like placing washroom facilities in strategic areas; making sure that there are plenty of disabled/senior washrooms; having wash up facilities in every washroom area; making sure there are plenty of supplies, including hand washing water, on hand for easy replacement; have the washrooms and area cleaned and monitored regularly and have all portable washrooms pumped on a regular schedule (more on busy days).

Finally, why not go that extra distance by adding flowers or plants to the washroom area; pipe in music to the area and place seniors/disabled seating there. All this may cost a little more, but your festival or event will reap the benefits.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Every Day Is Not Created Equal!

Unfortunately, due to the schedule we set for ourselves, we can’t always visit a festival on its prime day (usually a Saturday). This sometimes causes a problem for us. The reason for this is that too many festivals plan all there big events and attractions for the prime day and leave the other day(s) with lesser events. For people coming from out of town on an “off” day, this is a big disappointment! It leaves a “bad taste” and they are likely not going to come back in future years. Worst still, they will tell their friends how awful their experience was. I’ll give you an example. A few years ago, Gary and I visited a very popular event just east of us. We had heard a lot of great things about the festival, so we wanted to see it for ourselves. Due to previous commitments, we could only visit it on a Sunday. After we had arrived, we started to look around the town for the attractions. We could find very little happening. We explored the few attractions that were there but left with a great sense of disappointment.
Festival organizers and volunteers put a tremendous amount of effort and time into making their events happen, so why spoil it with having only half a festival? To me, the solution is simple. Either spread the activities equally between all the festival days or cut down on the number of event days. You may think that by having more days you’ll have a better festival. This only happens when each day is as interesting as the other(s). The reality is that you disappoint all that are involved! Visitors are disappointed because they are not attending a quality event. Vendors are disappointed because of poor sales (lack of quality attendees). And, volunteers because they feel negative vibrations from both visitors and vendors.

If you have the attractions and can make all festival days meaningful and fun, go for it. If not, do everyone a favour, scale down your event and make the 1 or 2 days the best they can be! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mass Confusion (Part Two)…

We did, however, decide to go back to the play zone to see if they had a festival guide available for us to read. They didn’t, but they did have a site map. Much to our surprise and delight there was another part of the festival that we weren’t aware of. It was in the downtown area and some distance away! We followed the map to the downtown area and discovered the heart of the festival. In the downtown park two giant “Pumpkin” pyramids had been erected. They were full a hundreds of carved and lite up pumpkins! You could see the tops of the pyramids as we descended the hill to the downtown centre. It was wonderful to discover this important part of the festival. What a shame it would have been for us to have missed it!

The solutions for this festival and others are simple. Here are some suggestions:
  1. Strategically place directional signage at key entrance point to your town
  2. Prepare large site maps showing where all activities are taking place. To reduce or eliminate the cost of these signs sell advertising space on the signs
  3. Make sure you prepare enough signs and place them conveniently throughout the festival grounds
  4. Have an information booth or booths placed near to major festival entry points. There should be at least one at each site.
  5. Make sure you website site has a printable comprehensive site map. Also, make sure it is easy enough to understand for out-of-town visitors
  6. Print enough Site Plan Maps to hand out to visitors
  7. Have identifiable volunteers regularly walk through the festival grounds. Make sure they are well informed about the festival and the community.

I know I have said this before, but if you want to attract out-of-town visitors to your event, you have to make sure you plan for their needs. It is very difficult to sustain a festival or event, year after year, without attracting new attendees.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Mass Confusion (Part One)…

It is very frustrating to visit a festival only to find mass confusion. The confusion I am talking about is site layout. I realized that not all sites lend themselves to be laid out perfectly. I also realized that some site locations are not large enough to hold the entire festival and that multiple sites may be necessary and/or preferable. People who go to a festival either want to see the entire event or want to see a specific aspect(s) of it. Well planned festivals, with single or multiple sites, which have good signage and an informative festival guide reduce or eliminate much of this kind of mass confusion.
Here is an example of what I mean. Gary and I drove quite some distance to attend a well-known and respected fall event. Here are some of the problems we encountered.

·         As we entered the town, there were no directional signs. We had to guess where to go and where to park.
·          Once we were on the festival grounds, there were no festival site signs to show us where activities and attractions could be found.
·         We looked for an information booth, but couldn’t find it.
·         There were no identifiable volunteers for us to ask where to find things.

We were left on our own to discover what the festival had to offer. This might appeal to some, but not to us and, I think, not to most new attendees. This was a “theme” festival, a Pumpkinfest. We were excited to see how they carried out the theme. As we walked through the grounds we discovered a food area, a play zone, a climbing wall, an arts and crafts show, a huge antique and classic car show and a Raptor Conservancy Show, but no “Pumpkins”, not one! We started to think that the festival organizers had missed the mark. We almost went home disappointed. 

(Continued in Part Two)

"The Raptor Conservancy Show was there."