The middle ground is always the hardest to be in, especially in hard times, and events have not escaped that reality this year.

Mid-sized events are not big enough to be the one big thing people must do – Glastonbury or the Chelsea Flower Show or small enough so that the time and financial investment easily outweighs getting out and having some fun – local beer and music festival, Open Gardens.

Event organisers have to weigh up costs vs expected revenue, with many UK events running the additional risk of weather dampening (literally) numbers.  In addition there is the difficult balancing act of short term gain vs long term success.

The latter is complicated. It is easy for me as a Customer Experience professional to say that experience should never be sacrificed for the sake of the balance sheet but if the event doesn’t make money then it is likely to have no future experience at all.

From personal experience and feedback from others it seems that some of those middling events have struggled to get the balance right.

As I do most years, I went to the Blue Dot festival at Jodrell Bank, mainly as it is literally at the bottom of my garden.

To be fair it was raining but that aside there seemed to be a lot less going on, where was the large comedy marquee we spent hours in one year? Where were all the fun science displays and why were several elements closed? And the line-up of acts was underwhelming at best (this is not just an old fogey like me saying this but a youngster that worked there said lots of people were complaining!) BUT if you wanted to eat your way through the day then there was no shortage of overpriced food stalls literally everywhere you looked.

I then saw this review of the RHS flower show at Tatton Park…

“I felt underwhelmed and again so disappointed by the lack of gardens and huge amount of retail & food stalls! Most of which are massively overpriced because this is Knutsford & the Cheshire set. RHS please change it up! It’s the same layout, same vendors. It just feels like a repeat on last year but with less of the good stuff. I felt bored. Less entertainment & music than before too. Please bring back the back to back gardens!”

And then this review of the Nickelodeon experience in Manchester…

“It was such a con with extortionate food prices too. I feel very strongly about warning others about how much of a rip-off this event is and the poor quality and lack of what’s there”

Three very different events, all on the same weekend in July and all receiving the same feedback.

Poor quality and quantity of relevant entertainment and too many over-priced commercial outlets.

I fully understand that it is a difficult time for event organisers. They are trying to make up for the years lost due to COVID whilst facing spiralling costs but some seem to have tipped the balance too far in reducing the quality and quantity of the experience customers are paying for whilst increasing revenues from commercial pitches.

Whilst this may have saved them this year surely this will only have one consequence – less visitors next year sending them into a horrible downward spiral.

Research Brand Vista conducted a few years ago backs this up:
59% of people only give companies one chance to get it right’

Sorry Blue Dot – but I’ll listening from my garden next year!

Brand aligned Customer experiences need not necessarily cost a fortune. Thinking innovatively, not just about the ‘product’ but your processes and people can help you to deliver a customer centric experience with limited budgets ensuring both short and long term success.