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, 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."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Volunteers at Their Best…

Although I have not experienced it first hand, I have heard that organizations such as Disney Theme Parks and some cruise lines really know how to treat their guests. It seems that they learn as much about their customers as possible, and then use this information to make each guest as comfortable as possible.

While I realize that festivals and events can’t use this exact technique, they can use the philosophy behind it. That is, make their customers (attendees) as comfortable as possible. What does this mean to festival organizers? To me it means having a well-organized festival with informed “identifiable volunteers”.

Some time ago, Gary was fortunate to judge some very outstanding festivals and events in a number of different categories. One of the categories was “Best Volunteer Program”. There were a number of entries, but one stood out, to me, above the rest! Their Volunteer Program, from recruitment to retirement, was amazing! It was complete and covered all aspect of managing their volunteers. It is no wonder that this festival is considered one of the best in the world.

So, taking a lead from their program, here are 10 smart ideas to consider:
  1. Screen your volunteers, just as would for a job interview
  2. Determine what would be the best and most appropriate job for each volunteer
  3. Prepare detailed job descriptions and make sure each volunteer is given one
  4. Have volunteer orientation and training sessions
  5. Appoint mentors to new volunteers
  6. Give each volunteer a festival uniform and identification badge
  7. Give each volunteer an event work schedule
  8. Have a meaningful volunteer appreciation program
  9. Develop a volunteer perk package
  10. Hold a volunteer wrap-up event and let everyone know how the festival/event did
The whole point to this blog is to remind festival organizers that they should treat their guests (festival attendees) like princes or princesses as soon as they enter the festival grounds (sooner, if possible). This means having volunteers having well informed, recognizable volunteers who are friendly and prepared to guests on all aspects of the festival and the community. If you get this part right, everything will fall into place.