Getting feedback from event attendees

This is really awesome! Sounds like you’re creating a proper community around your festival which is definitely the right way to grow.

What do you reckon is the most common thing festivals get wrong?

Financials is the big one I see. Relying on ticket sales to pay over priced bands they have booked in advance on the hope they will draw ticket sales for them then they fail and cancel last minute and blame it on something else.

I saved up for 2 years to put my first festival on, on the basis that I had all the money covered before a single ticket was sold, before a trader paid for a stall and before a sponsor was sought. That way it guaranteed the festival would happen. That is my biggest bug bear. I’d be really happy if the music festival industry could be regulated. I know that puts a lot of pressure on but if you are a small but hard working event with guaranteed finances, you suffer every time a festival is cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Peoples confidence drops.

We launched our festival off the back of a failed festival called Alt-Fest. It was supposed to be the biggest alternative music event in the UK. It collapsed due to bad funding management and other issues. But that created a big problem in the music scene as most people didn’t get their money back. I lost £5,000 as my previous company sponsored one of the stages. We could have chased the liquidators but felt there was no point as there were bigger companies that lost a lot more than us.

But isn’t it true that those big names sell the tickets? Wasn’t it hard for you to promote your event as you were showcasing lesser known acts?

No the big names don’t always sell the big tickets. I run a radio station with over 1 million listeners a year and our aim there is to highlight the up and coming bands. This year we had 47 bands playing and all played because they applied via my website. The people coming are in a music community that want the next generation of bands. We’ve had over 25% ticket sales at the festival for the following year each year before making any band announcements based on the trust the festival will always find something new and exciting. There are some small but known names but our actual strapline is ‘discover your new favourite band’ and I always guarantee that people will leave with 3 new bands that they haven’t seen before but will want to see again.

We do have one special guest by invite to close the festival each year. Next year we have AC/DC’s drummer Chris Slade. The special guests are always people that I have a connection with and know will not be big band diva’s when it comes to riders and payments.

Its working for us this way and Monday we did our first 10 band announcement and most only knew 2-3 bands and are all very excited about the rest of them.

That’s brilliant. It sounds like having a strong community to appeal to (in your case, people who love discovering new music) is the key.

£5k… ouch! That’s a lot of cash for a smaller organisation and public confidence is an expensive thing. Glad to hear that you’re doing well now though. Sounds fantastic!

That money was from a previous business which just about survived the hit. One of those live and learn things I’m afraid. Though the organiser of the event lost a lot more than I did (his house and livelihood) as I believe he had to declare bankruptcy.

@Belinda_Booker yes, its not quite a niche market as there are lots of events sub 1,000 capacity doing what we are doing but I do think we have one of the better small festivals. Already won awards and shortlisted on the UK Festival Awards for ‘Best New Festival’, ‘Best Small Festival’ and ‘Best Festival for Emerging Talent’. Hoping to win one of those this year! Award winning festival has a nice ring to it!

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Wow good going! Wishing you the best of luck!

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The graph appeals to me as an accountanty type but I also think the “How I felt” before and after is a brilliant idea.

We always send out a survey monkey survey at the end of every event, very ease to amend and customise the questions for specific events and analytics are clear and useable, we’ve always got a good response for them and unlike some Luther survey providers they seem to be able to avoid being directed straight to the trash folder

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In the past we did a few things to encourage feedback:

  1. Team member meets with attendees/exhibitors/speakers/sponsors during networking breaks and asks for feedback.

  2. Upon completion of feedback form delegates receive a certificate of attendance.

  3. People who complete feedback form receive 10% off registration at next event.

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Great ideas - which worked the best? I think people definitely do need to be incentivised. I’ve got so many uncompleted survey requests sitting in my inbox right now…

I’m thinking maybe it would be easier for respondents if they could answer the questions directly within the email, which is something you can do with Survey Monkey apparently: https://help.surveymonkey.com/articles/en_US/kb/Embedding-Questions-in-an-Email

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It depended on where we held the event. In Latin America/Asia and Africa the certificates worked very well. In North America and the UK we found that half the attendees prefered to give their feedback in person. We have tried Survey Monkey and got a few responses but wasn’t as successful.

@Krystyna_Gadd awesome form! Is it available for use or is it copyrighted?

Genius! Thanks Belinda!

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That’s interesting. I can see how being asked to give feedback in person would make you feel like your feedback was really valued, but could be impossibly time consuming for larger events. Great for events like workshops and training though or for smaller groups of stakeholders like exhibitors.

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I think if I was put on the spot to give feedback then I wouldn’t be constructive even if I saw there was issues as it could be taken offensively. We did an anonymous feedback a few years ago for our first festival. No names, no emails, they just filled in the form. It didn’t make a lot of difference to how we do it now with their names on the form. At the weekend event, people just want to enjoy themselves and at ours at least, they don’t want to be hassled with feedback questionnaires.

Although, next year I may offer up an anonymous feedback/suggestion box. Leave some pens and paper aside for people to fill in themselves and drop in a box. Might even give them the form as they arrive at the festival with their goodie bags. I think that could help us get more genuine feedback which is what we are interested in.

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I guess it depends on the type of event. At a festival you really are there for fun. Like the suggestion box idea though. I do actually prefer to write down feedback while there and then as opposed to filling in a digital survey later. When I stay in hotels, I do usually take the time to pop a note in the suggestion box (but this is usually because I want to suggest an improvement rather than praise them!).

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We are looking at people rating each band after they have played too. This is something we do at another event I am involved in where you register your email on arrival and they ping you after the band has finished to do a short survey on the band rating them on 5 elements. This is for a battle of the bands competition. I am looking at expanding that at my festival as most people have our festival app so it should work quite well - hopefully!

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Love it Krys - best example of an evaluation form I have seen and perfect for capturing both Quant and Qual data to inform decisions. I will be shamelessly stealing this b.t.w. :grinning: