Since I’ve started blogging, I have been to a large amount of expos and festivals, often on my own dime, and I can count on the fingers of half a hand the times where it has actually been worth it. I usually avoid publishing anything on this blog that have “negative vibes” but maybe, if I say something, things will change.
My biggest issue with these events is the selling of tickets but never controlling overcrowding. If you are selling tickets to an event, you should know ahead of time what the absolute maximum number of people can enjoy the even at a time. Emphasis on the word ENJOY. Do you enjoy fighting for samples, having nowhere to sit and having to queue for drinks? Well, no. I don’t either. If you oversell for an event, you will have complaints. If you’re justifying your heavy ticket price for a “small, exclusive event” then, for heaven’s sake, don’t sell 12 000 tickets.
- Each tent had a letter associated to it. The stands then were marked on a map with that letter and a number. You could therefore easily figure out where the stand was that you were looking for.
- The tents were air conditioned and there were places to sit and catch your breath when the sunshine outside became too much.
- There were tons of people but it never felt crowded because the whole field was used and the tents were spread out so that you never felt like you could barely move in a confined space.
- Kids (under 12) were allowed in for free. There were rides that they could go on and keep themselves entertained for hours. If those rides had been free, then I would have been happy to pay for a ticket for them. Since they weren’t free, I was glad to pay since I didn’t have to pay for the kids to get in to the Show.
The next issue I’d like to address is the price of everything. There was one year I decided to find out how little I could spend at a Show. After paying R100 to get in, I spent about an hour looking at all the stalls. A handful of products were outstanding enough to warrant a purchase. If I had bought 1 of each item I found impressive, I would have spent around R500. And that was before I had even bought anything to each to sustain myself through the show. So, if you and a partner (or heaven help you, a family) go to one of these shows, you can expect to spend a minimum of around R1000 per person especially if you want to attend the Celebrity Theatres.
My question is this, if you are already paying over R100 to get in, why should you pay more to watch someone cook for 30 minutes? I know there are shows that let you into the cook alongs or demonstrations as part of the ticket price but this is few and far between. To expect someone to pay R120 for a ticket PLUS R50 per 30 minute cooking demo is a bit much.
Yes, I know food and wine festivals are very different from travel expos but if you cannot find a way to distribute your samples without people crowding around your table and leaving nothing for anyone else, then rather don’t bother. It feels like we’re trying to make something work without thinking this through smarter. Brands have an opportunity here to think outside the confines of their 6x6m stand and find an innovative way to introducing new people to their products.
I also recognize that not every event is billed as “family friendly” but you guys are missing out on a huge market here. I don’t like leaving my family behind (and organize baby sitters) so that my husband and I can attend an event on our own. If you cannot make your expo and festival family friendly then you will lose out on a huge portion of your available target audience. The Cheese Festival and The Getaway Show have the right idea. If they can get it right then I’m sure you can think of something.
My final gripe is the shocking food, especially when it comes to wine festivals. Good grief people! Just because most of the people attending are too tipsy to notice, it doesn’t mean that the blotting paper you’re selling should taste like cardboard. Have you no shame? I have spent R50 on a dry roll and overcooked piece of steak one too many times. If this is my own option at a festival then I’d rather not go.
Come on you guys. We CAN make these events family friendly and not devastating on the pocket. I’m not saying I want stuff for free. I just want to feel like it was worth driving all the way out there because I had great food and a great time with my family. I’m willing to pay for it but the standard of these festivals and expos have dropped so low, that it has put me off for life.