In 2017, French people spent, on average, close to five hours per day on their screens: in this ultra-connected era, music festivals, often located in isolated places without 4G, need to increase their digital offerings. It’s a true economic challenge and, facing growing competition, festivals are finding it harder and harder to draw in spectators.
Music Festivals fighting to attract visitors
In 2017, the Solidays Festival saw a sharp decrease in attendance rates: 169,000 people came to the Hippodrome de Longchamp, representing 30,000 less than the previous year. While overall the attendance numbers for the most well-known festivals (e.g. Lollapalooza, Vieilles Charrues, Eurockéennes) remain good, the case of Solidays shows that the situation of the market presents vastly different results.
Indeed, the growing number of festivals has brought stiff competition to the sector. Every year, around 1,900 of them vie to draw a large enough crowd to be profitable.
To do so, everything is fair game: headliners are chosen from a wider variety in order to attract different types of audiences and the most popular performers are announced earlier and earlier. Faced with this competition, the challenge for organisers is to get today’s biggest artists to sign on. It’s a strategy that pays off… but that comes at a higher price too. At the same time, France’s Vigipirate security alert system adds significant logistical costs for organisers, who are already struggling with hefty fees to pay to artists taking advantage of the competition in the market. The additional costs to support these events add up to €43,000 per day for the biggest festivals.
In sum, there has been an increase in the number of music festivals, creating a communications war and a fight to be the most attractive, sending costs skyrocketing. Faced with these new issues, festivals are looking for strategies to help them stand out from the crowd.
It’s time to offer a digital experience to festival-goers
To come out on top of this stiff competition, music festivals need to play to the many strengths of digital technology. Indeed, at the heart of the issue, festivals need to develop their offerings towards an exclusive, unique experience that makes them stand out. Investing in digital technology, notably a Wi-Fi solution, would be a way for festivals to adapt their events to new behaviours in society. People today are ultra-connected, like to share experiences live on social media, etc. These behaviours can transform festival-goers into brand ambassadors, but to date they are often prevented from doing so because of a lack of connection at these festivals, which are often organised in isolated places or places not equipped for a large number of simultaneous connections.
As such, offering a high-speed connection is a way to boost attractiveness in the market, both for the big-name events and more modest summer gatherings.
Behind the experience, the added value of data
Behind that high-speed connection is the heart of the user experience: offering services that create value. It allows festivals to not only give visitors easy access to practical information, but also provides them with replays, the ability to view other stages, opportunities to jump queues, online contests, or real-time push notifications so that they don’t miss any concerts.
For festivals, this means having access to the location data of users so that festival programmes can be adapted to visitor flows or weather, for example, and in particular so that festivals can build the loyalty of their audiences. After all, even when the festival ends, the competition doesn’t stop. As such, festivals must be able to retarget visitors with content throughout the year. Music festivals must understand visitors better to target them better and stay present in their minds outside of the festival season. There are numerous ideas for how to improve customer satisfaction and make sure that visitors come back: provide news on their favourite artists, make partnerships with big players in the ticket sales industry to offer special access to certain concerts, or offer VIP passes to the most loyal customers. Data therefore becomes the fulcrum for leveraging digital technology.
By improving the user experience with digital technology and data, festivals can ensure a return on investment. While equipping the temporary, transportable structures of festivals with a connectivity solution comes at a cost, Wi-Fi very quickly generates value, offering an undeniable, effective advantage over the competition.