As the 12th Electric Picnic (“EP”) drew to a close and worse for wear festival goers (including, yours truly) rolled up their sleeping bags for another year, I was struck by what an incredible job the event organisers do in getting some of the most disparate stakeholder groups to buy into their ‘arts and music’ concept. Described as Ireland’s answer to Glastonbury, the eclectic music choice is just the starting point in what is seemingly a very unique cultural event.
There’s the performers: music artists; dancers; political, media and sports commentators; face painters; story tellers; community groups; charities; make-up artists; health and wellness practitioners. There’s suppliers: camping; food and drink; construction; logistics; security. There’s emergency services. There’s sponsors. There’s employees and volunteers.
And then there’s the 55,000 customers. Eighteen year-old school leavers, 30-something professionals, 65 year old retirees and even kids seem to happily co-exist at a festival which dubs itself as music and arts but might be more aptly described as ‘whatever you’re having yourself’. From outdoor chakra tents to karaoke in a caravan and everything in between, it’s pretty impressive how for one weekend people from all walks of life come together.
Granted, the majority of people attending the festival have already made up their mind to have a good time – which is a starting point most would be envious of - but delivering on that promise doesn’t happen by accident.
Here are some of my observations:
• Have a vision … It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd, so you have to dream big, or at least think differently. It doesn’t have to be on the grand scale of EP but it does have to be memorable.
• … But not at the expense of the finer details. It’s easy to sell a dream but not quite as easy to deliver it. In the run up to the festival, I read an article with the Site Manager of the event (who works for 40 days straight in advance) who said traffic management planning began eight months ago. Leave no stone unturned.
• Know your stakeholders. Most companies will never have to manage so many different stakeholders at one time but EP proves it’s possible. Ask yourself: have you defined your stakeholders? Do you understand what’s important to them?
• Bring your stakeholders on the journey. It’s all well and good for the people at the top to have a clear sense of ambition, but no man is an island, and knowing how to motivate others is potentially the most important part of making the vision a reality.
• Keep surprising and delighting your customers. This might just be the hardest thing to achieve, but you can’t afford to be complacent or rest on your laurels. Taking a risk might just be worth it.
By my own theory, I should not be a candidate for EP. I’m not that into music and the thought of sharing toilet facilities with thousands of other people sends shivers down my spine.
But this is one weary Picnic reveller who’s happy to overlook the public ‘bathroom’ facilities, inclement weather, torturous trek to and from the car through the mud and laden down with bags - and the considerable financial investment - for a weekend in Disneyland for Adults.
I’ll be purchasing my ticket for #EP2017 when they go on sale tomorrow. Only 361 days to go.