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Fyre Festival: That sandwich, those models & the real facts.

It must have been the highlight of many event professionals’ months (or years!). This week saw the launch of two documentaries about Fyre Festival (which are available on Netflix & Hulu, if you were living in a cave in the mountains last week). Apart from lashings of schadenfreude and a huge amount of empathy for those who lost money and livelihoods, there were a few things that emerged that are really important to set straight.

What we learnt from Fyre:

Social & Influencers & Brand can make or break an event. TRUE

Get these 3 things right and the world is your oyster. The fact that Fyre sold out instantly was an incredible testament to the care taken by the agencies around the brand and design and the power of social media and influencers. The terrible fact was that the marketing was not based on reality.

Whilst it was a set of supermodels that sold the event, it was a simple tweet that broke the horror story to the world – the pitiful, sweaty cheese sandwich. So please be careful – your customer’s terrible experience can make global headlines in seconds.

That sandwich...

It will only be with future launches of festivals and events that the industry will understand whether consumer trust in new brands ‘selling the dream’ has been broken – or at least fans will require more substantiation before they decide to part with their cash.

Going Cashless is a cool thing to do. TRUE

The good thing for Tappit was that (like most things pre-Fyre festival) going cashless looked really slick and the audience was excited. And yes, we can confirm going cashless does look good – every time. A beautifully designed wristband that customers know has their money on it and saves on the clutter of lugging a wallet around a festival or on a beach can be an extra “cool factor” that sets your event apart. And, it’s safe, easy and reliable. We can’t argue with that.

Going Cashless is the future of events. TRUE

Fyre correctly tapped into a major trend – both for customers and event owners alike – going cashless is the future. Less than 1% of transactions in Sweden use cash – and our recent global survey of 800 festival goers found that 73% prefer being cashless at festivals. Even better for organisers, there are huge benefits to going cashless. Valuable data and insights are gained by going cashless, helping you to totally understand your fan and enable targeted marketing; profits are increased through faster transactions, you’ll see increased spend and a reduction in admin costs, and of course, theft and fraud are virtually eliminated. Sadly, in the case of Fyre Festival, no one benefited.

You can’t use cashless wristbands if there is no WiFi. FALSE

Thankfully the Tappit team was not involved with Fyre, but what we do know is that our solution does not require WiFi to operate. Event organisers’ reporting and analytics might be marginally slower as a result, but a lack of WiFi does not cause a problem with implementation. Even on a far-flung island (that may or may not have been owned by Pablo Escobar), you can integrate the Tappit solution seamlessly.

The fans’ money was at risk on the wristband. TRUE & FALSE

Clearly one of the benefits of going cashless as an event organiser is that you can understand how much people are willing to spend at your event. This, in turn, helps you gain greater insight into how to create a memorable experience and provide the products that they want to buy.

At Fyre, from what we can gather, the fans did lose their money. However, this is an issue wherever and whenever people buy something long distance. Whether it is a gift card or a holiday – if a retailer goes bankrupt before the customer receives the goods, then their money is at risk. If event organisers choose to work with Tappit, our dedicated account management team helps them create the right solution for their audience. We work together to ascertain whether keeping funds in ESCROW or ensuring the transactions are stored on our partner’s merchant account is the best way forward to reassure customers or aid cash flow.

Honesty and timely communication make a difference. TRUE

When things went bad for Fyre, they went downhill fast. As many people mentioned in the documentary – simple, fast communication might have made a difference. Although being honest with fans might not have saved Fyre festival, it certainly would not have created a global story that provided enough content for 2 full-length documentaries.

So whilst everyone is discussing Fyre around the water cooler for the next few weeks – please have a think about what you can learn and what you can do to make sure your event makes the headlines for all the right reasons.

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