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Key Learnings from the Fyre Festival Fiasco

According to USA Today event planning is the 5th most stressful job on the planet. Right after serving in the military or on a police force. The "organizers" (I use this term loosely) of Fyre Festival found out just how stressful events can be when not properly planned and executed.

What are the lessons we can all take away from the Fyre controversy?

Hire Professionals and Trust

When done right, event planning looks easy. It's not. Event planning is incredibly complex and detail oriented. A well-executed event is like coordinating an army mission with thousands of moving parts that must fall into place at the exact right time to keep every other piece on track. A great event requires meticulous execution.

Nearly every client we've ever worked with has come to us after thinking their spouse or assistant or marketing director could "just handle the event" in addition to their daily responsibilities. And the results have been just as they were set up to be - mediocre and stressful. You must set yourself up for success.

Hire An Expert and Allow Them to Lead

Events are definitely an area of life where what you pay for is what you get. If you are stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime, those cut corners will come shining through on event day and leave your brand/reputation looking cheapened as well.

Of course you'll have an opinion. It's your event. But we recommend that once you set goals and expectations, do not micromanage the path to success.

Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

The Fyre Festival planners decided that if they hoped things would go well, then they would indeed go well. It didn't. When planning for anything - an event, a marketing effort, etc. - always think through the worst-case scenarios and work backwards from there into a fool proof execution strategy to best protect you from disaster.

If you are nervous on event day then you didn't do your job right.

Be Careful of Hype

Be confident in the value you can offer guests. Fyre Fest was obviously a first-time event so there were a lot of unknowns, but tickets/packages were extremely expensive and VIP packages seemed arbitrarily (and ridiculously) high. In the end, it was all talk. There was no plan to deliver value and experience to reflect the high prices and hype. This set the event up for failure from the get-go. Declaring something will be awesome/exclusive (and charging people for that promise) isn't enough to make it actually happen! If you hype it, you must deliver.

Failure is magnified through social media. These days social media makes it quick to build a reputation and quick to destroy it. Fyre Fest is exhibit A of the risks of influencer marketing. They recruited big names to promote the event, but those influencers were not directly tied to the event, so when everything blew up, the influencers had no reason to defend the Festival. Now, along with consumers bashing the event, Fyre has celebrities who were once their “advocates” distancing themselves from the project and pointing fingers. A great reminder that just because you might have the money to pay influencers/celebrities to join your cause, it doesn’t always mean that they will be beneficial.

It's Never Too Late to Make The Right Decision

It's ok to push pause. Or even stop. Be realistic with yourself. If the stars are not aligning and you are on a road toward disaster, it is ok to stop and reevaluate to create a new plan for success.

Personal Responsibility Matters

Events take leadership and no matter who does what, if you are in charge then you must take responsibility. Festival organizers saying that circumstances were out of their control is a cop-out that will leave little opportunity to rebound later. Poor planning of an event in a location with little infrastructure is not out of their control, it was a decision they made and they should own it.

Making matters worse for Fyre Fest, is the statement by event co-founder Ja Rule that he didn't know how "everything went so left" and went on to say, “it was NOT MY FAULT”. Leaders don’t point fingers...if you are involved/part of it/your name is attached to it....accept responsibility. It doesn't matter who did/didn't do what...it all looks bad. The organizers have now issued a new, lengthier statement taking responsibility and time will tell if all is forgiven.

I'm often told I look calm at our events. I am. We put a plan in place, build the necessary team capable of execution and then manage the details as they fall into place. Let the JHL Austin Best Events team lead your next event to success.

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