When it comes to ensuring the safety of your fans, you can never be too careful. While advice like “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” might slightly comfort you in your planning process, these words of wisdom aren’t exactly helpful action steps. However, developing a list of concrete action items will get you closer to a safe and secure event, while putting you into a positive state of mind each time you check a task off. While there are many safety protocols you’ll need to consider for your music festival, here are five tips to get you started.
Choose Your Security Staff Carefully
Obviously safety is the number one priority, however, it’s important to consider who you’re adding to your team and if you want them to be the face of your event. Does your security guard intimidate attendees and angrily escort them through your venue? Or does your security guard go above and beyond the call of duty by getting a cup of water for the dehydrated freshman in college after too much time in the sun? Fans want know that they are safe, but they also want to feel welcome and appreciated. Customer service is a touchy area, but aim for high standards. A frowny face or snarky remark will not only kill the energy of your event, but will also leave your attendees feeling underwhelmed and disappointed.
Choose your staff accordingly and get to know them before the event. Don’t put the guy who just broke up with his girlfriend at the front gate. Show appreciation to your team by providing incentives like free or discounted food from your vendors, or discounted tickets for friends and family.
Be Prepared And Confident
Be sure to have complimentary earplugs, ice, and water available, as well as a cool place for people to lie down. If you’re letting volunteers help out in your tent, it’s important to ensure they feel comfortable and confident in administering basic first aid to your festival patrons, staff, and performers. Basic first aid includes
– Cleaning and dressing wounds
– Placing band aids on scrapes and blisters
– Handing out sunscreen/after sun care
– Handing out over the counter pain relievers/other over the counter cures
– Checking blood pressure/blood sugar levels
– Taping sprained ankles
Keep In Touch
Email guests with updates or a newsletter reminder that outlines the food and drink selection, timing of the event, and information about discount tickets or special offers. Send out promotions, “Sign up by June 11th and receive one free beer coupon”. To help guests pack the perfect day pack, post rules and guidelines of what items are permitted/not allowed into the festival on your website. Posting guidelines like these ahead of time not only shows that you are concerned with the well being of your fans, but also gives guests a heads up that security will checking for unsafe items.
Prevent Drug & Alcohol Abuse
Many organizers say that it is impossible to monitor the use of drugs and alcohol at large-scale events like music festivals. There is some truth to this statement: fans who really, really want to get stoned for the headliner will find a way to do it regardless of any rules and regulations. However, there are precautions you can take as a festival planner to decrease the risk of abuse and injury.
Utilize services like DanceSafe, a public health organization promoting health and safety within the nightlife and electronic music community. If you feel that you can’t control what the masses of people will bring into your festival, having an organization like DanceSafe present will provide tools to educate patrons. The basic principle is that by informing fans of the substance they’re using, they will be much less likely to overdose or misuse that substance.
Other ways to prevent misuse of drugs and alcohol include:
– Check bags at the front entrance.
– Provide free water refill stations at various locations around the festival grounds.
– Serve food from legit vendors. By legit, I mean licensed and hearty. Having snacks like popcorn and candy is all well and good, but make sure their are vendors that serve food that can soak up some of that alcohol and sustain your fans through long set lists!
– Have a way to easily and clearly identify if someone is over 21. Most of the time a wristband or stamp will work. However, stamps can sometimes get tricky as they wash off or fade.
– Promote support groups like Bonnaroo Music Festival’s “Soberoos“, a group of passionate, like-minded music fans who choose to remain drug and alcohol free at the festival.
Be Mobile Friendly
A phone charging station is important, especially for the younger generation. This is because young teens rely on the help of their parents to not only grant them permission to go to a music festival without supervision, but also depend on their parents to transport them to and from the festival. If a worried mom can be reassured that her son or daughter will be checking in periodically with a phone call or text, she will be much more likely to approve of the festival. A phone charging station is also important for teens and adults who will need to call for a ride home at the end of a long day. Most likely, their phones will have exhausted battery power from taking photos and videos of their favorite bands, so they’ll need to charge up!
Encourage The Use Of Common Sense
Although you can provide them with the best amenities and security team, your fans will not always reciprocate by bringing the #1, absolutely guaranteed, best safety item – common sense. It’s important to keep your attendees informed of the happenings of your festival. Similarly, you can provide a gentle reminder of what they might want to bring: water, sunglasses, sunscreen… oh yeah, and their common sense (in the most friendly way possible, of course). There will always be “those people” that need a little extra attention or feel the need to intentionally break the rules. Try not to let these trouble makers bring you down, and use the action steps listed above to keep everyone safe and having a great time.