Tips for running a Visa WOAP Festival Event

The appetite for events during Visa WOAP! is huge. We sold 72% of all Festival Event tickets in 2016 from over 12,000 tickets available, with approximately 4,000 individual people attending at least one event.

We want every Festival Event to succeed, so to help with the brainstorming and application process, we’ve analysed ticket sales and the feedback from the 2016 Visa WOAP! Consumer Survey plus made a couple of changes to the 2017 programme.

2017 Changes

Number of Festival Events Event Pricing
• In 2017 we will be capping events to 125
• We’ve reached a sweet spot in Festival Event numbers. Any more than this and some events just don’t sell. We want to ensure high sales volumes for all events, as well as maintaining the high level of quality of events on offer.
• We are constantly amazed at the delivery of the fantastic range of events, each year.
• We like a broad range of prices, catering for all consumers, but feedback coming through strongly each year is Festival Events are getting more expensive, and some events don’t quite deliver on what’s promoted.
• Don’t let this stop you coming up with your amazing Festival Event concepts! Let your imaginations run wild. We just may come back to you to work through a revision in the price (e.g. by reviewing the style, or the format).
Second release Preferential ticketing
• One week following Tickets on Sale we release additional tickets, based on consumer demand and your desire to add more nights or capacity.
• This has been an ad-hoc process, with new tickets being made available sporadically after this time, meaning our promotions become haphazard and get lost in the consumer noise.
• In 2017, we are going to hold this back until mid-July. This allows us to keep analysing sales and judge demand, and to work with you over a few weeks to work out what is best to release – being proactive rather than reactive.
• We will be building a dedicated marketing campaign to highlight this second release.
• Sponsors and Friends of the Festival have preferential, but limited, access to Festival Event tickets.
• For Festival Events with low ticket numbers, we will agree with you during the application process how many tickets can be made available for Preferential ticketing.
• For larger or multiple night Festival Events, we suggest planning for between 1-4 nights’ maximum for consumer sale and holding 1-2 nights’ back (for potential sponsor evenings, corporate hosting and/or second release). We will agree on this with you during the application process.

Other Tips

What are consumers asking for?
• More affordable events. Not cutting out higher priced events, but a greater range of events at the lower end of the scale (includes pop ups).
• For higher priced events, more details to clearly articulate what’s included in the ticket price – more information to make an informed decision. For example, number of courses, examples of what is on the menu, whether the event caters to dietary requirements, does it include wine/alcoholic beverages etc.
• Ability to offer a non-alcoholic option, but that is also reflected in the price
• More special diet events (gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant)
• More events with a “Festival” type feel – e.g. with music, entertainment, for the whole family
• Lunch events on a weekday to be shorter (to fit into a lunch break)
Lessons from ticket sales and consumer feedback
Event logistics Pricing
• 20-40 pax sell out more so than larger events
• If on multiple night’s, three (possibly four) nights’ maximum have higher chance of selling out – anymore and individual event fatigue sets in.
• If wanting to run multiple nights, we suggest planning for up to four nights’ maximum for consumer sale and holding one-two nights back (for second release or corporate hosting)
• Clearly articulate what’s included in the ticket price, especially for higher priced events
• More information to help make an informed decision
• Ability to offer a non-alcoholic option, and reflected in the price
Types of Festival Events that sold well Family events
• Events with a social conscience, where you can learn / eat “better”
• Vegan or vegetarian events
• Nostalgia
• Pop Ups – in general did well
• Collaborations – chocolate & soda, beer & tea, restaurant & winemaker
• Consider the TOTAL cost for a family to attend. If you have adult + child tickets, parents want to go with their children if it is affordable. If only child tickets are available, consider families with more than one child and what parents are willing to spend.
• Also consider timings around Saturday morning sport if your target ages are 6+
Collaborations Promotion/marketing
• Generally, when 2-3 parties collaborate to put on an event, they are successful. Any more than 2-3 organisations and it can confuse consumers (and organisers!), pending on the event format and how you communicate it. • Festival Events that are promoted heavily through your own or partner channels sell better overall.
Descriptions for web and programme guide
• Showcase what the event is about – demonstrate the value in your ticket price. Don’t be too mysterious and hold back info! The more the consumers know about the event, the more likely they will buy. Tell them the number of courses, the types of food, the entertainment etc.
• “Secret” elements to an event are pointless if no one buys a ticket.
• Details in your description MUST match the Festival Event delivery
• Images sell – those events that have a great foodie visual (no logos!) generally sell much better than those that don’t

Want PR or Media attention?

We are pitching to media nearly every day from March onwards. Want some of the love? Events that likely will get picked up have one or more of these angles/themes:
• New – some aspect hasn’t been done before in NZ (venue, technique, theme, service, genre)
• Challenges perceptions
• Collaborations
• Events outside of Wellington city (in the regions)
• Established food personalities (national or international)
• Nostalgia
• Go beyond the experience of eating
• Interactive
• On trend – ‘food that is hot right now’
• Heartfelt / human interest
• Visual impact – looks good on TV (interactive, dramatic)
• Think of the extremes – this could make the (New Zealand version) of the Guinness Book of Records. It’s the biggest/the most/the smallest/the first etc.

Food Trends

• Seaweed is the new kale
• Snack food
• Special diets (gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy)
• Root/Stem to leaf
• Food with a conscience
• Korean
• Tropical Asian (Filipino/Hawaiian/Samoan)
• Mixing up sweet and savoury
• Food & technology

Other considerations for 2017

• The Road to Beervana and Beervana (Fri 11 & Sat 12 Aug) will again take place during the week before and starting weekend of Visa WOAP. The Road to Beervana offers an opportunity to create dedicated beer events too. Please note however that your event can’t be part of both programmes.
• The annual New Zealand Barista Championships will take place in Wellington on the middle weekend (Sat 19 & Sun 20 Aug) of Visa WOAP! We’re after some coffee-related Festival Event applications around this weekend.
• The New Zealand Truffle Association will be having their annual conference in Wellington on the final weekend (Sat 26 & Sun 27 Aug) of Visa WOAP! We’re after some truffle-related Festival Event applications around this weekend.