Thanks for all the replies. I have a phone chat booked in with Eventbrite for next week. We have not had any issues before and have always been above 60% sold by Christmas. This time around we are half that.
Each year the line-up has increased in quality based on what the fans have asked for. We do regular surveys with them to see who they want on the line-ups. We also regularly ask them about the facilities, improvements, additional entertainment etc so we are always in touch and we shape the festival around our customers.
This year I have travelled over 7,000 miles, been on the road for 70 days, watched 435 bands at 22 festivals. I pride myself in taking notice of what the good and bad of every event is to make sure my own one is the best it can be. I make no secret about this. I go to these events (all very similar to mine, as in all live music festivals) to network with other promoters, with press, with bands, traders, PR companies and future customers.
One thing I have noticed in my industry is that every festival has announced most if not all of their 2018 line-ups very early. Based on this I have done the same so I have an equal chance of gaining customers for the event. Ours is the first camping weekend of the year (Whitsun Bank Holiday) which is perfect for those 50,000+ heading to Download Festival a few weeks later so they can air their tents etc and get ready for the Summer music festival season.
We haven't let up on advertising and marketing. In fact, we have done more for 2018 than we have done for our first 3 years so I cannot see that as part of the problem.
We have also used an Eventbrite feature giving bands an affiliate code for 20% ticket money back on top of their fee for playing.
So, I although I appreciate the comments, I am still at a loss as to why we are not as far ahead as we should be. We have AC/DC's drummer Chris Slade playing for us next year. Its a pretty exclusive show!
I am in two minds about the rent a crowd idea. We do give bands a number of guest tickets and press too but as @Richard_Millington pointed out, you get the folk that realise there are freebies if you hang on and then they wait.
I do have my festival experience offer coming up and hopefully that could drum up extra business. Buy a ticket before a certain date and be entered into a prize draw for 4 tickets (or your money back for ones purchased), band goodie bags, festival goodie bags and a glamping tent for 4 people. It did gain a bit more interest this year so I am hoping that will push more sales.
Roll on 2018!!!