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event management

Snugly Winter Party Themes

Sitting here in my woollen winter coat once more, I thought that I'd put out a quick snapshot of party theme ideas for the upcoming chilly months. Best you sit down with a sweet cup of tea and take these in:

beatnik kit.jpg

Beatnik Party

Only the best party idea I've had yet! This is seriously my favourite theme of the original hipsters of the 1950s. Throw on some warm jazz and a cosy sweater, pour some liquor and yank out your creative side. You might even create a masterpiece to hang on your wall, or hear some impressionable poetry (as did happen at my last party; that guy blew me away!)

Christmas in July

Kinda corny, I know, but us southerners don't get Christmas holidays like they do up north. Why not give it a go? Those decorations only get out once a year, and you could even play Secret Santa to include the gift-giving sentiments. Plus, if you need any more convincing, there's EGGNOG!

Positive Party

This is another I want to run sometime soon. Happy moods only! Play the happiest of tunes, have colourful food and dress code; encourage compliments, and even have a sort of "swear jar" for anyone caught gossiping to add a penalty coin - you could later donate the contents to a local mental health charity or hospital. This theme would be more ideal for the absolute coldest months, or near the end of August to pull everyone out of any lingering SAD moods.

London High Tea

Get all fancy, Brit! I'm a massive T2 fan (oh, my GOSH, I could spend hours drooling on that website!), although you can find all sorts of scrumptious tea varieties in other stores around the country. Snuggle up with your favourite teapot, some sugar cubes, teaspoons and mittens. Might want to leave the croquet for the springtime, but cards or other board games would be great.

Or, if you'd like to try the other form of UK class, hit up a working class gig and go all Shameless on your mates with a bonfire in the back yard if it suits. The original though, not that US remake junk!

How do these sound? Do you have any creative themes for the seasons? It could just be the climate here in Australia, but I find winter ideas a little more difficult to think of. Half the fun is going all "trial and error" on your guests though!

Festival Fatigue Among Small and Large Events Alike

From Faster Louder yesterday:

Late last year, FasterLouder’s parent company Sound Alliance ran an online survey to find out your take on a range of topics. 5,000 respondents aged between 18-30 years old from Sound Alliance websites responded, making it the most comprehensive survey of its kind in Australia.

Well, the results are in, and they have some telling answers about that ‘fatigue’ question. While some punters are tiring of festivals, the good news is that the festival industry still has plenty of life in it yet.

“About a third of respondents agreed that they enjoy festivals less than they used to, which is natural as early adopters move on and get that bit older,” says Sound Alliance Managing Director Neil Ackland. “But the vast majority, 76%, disagreed with that statement.”

“When a festival like Big Day Out sells 200,000+ tickets a year, it’s hardly underground anymore, and this is reflected in the survey results where 74% agreed that festivals have become very mainstream, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

“Whilst the festival scene has most definitely tipped, prices of tickets are still seen by most, to represent good value for money,” says Ackland. “Just 15% thought otherwise.” Big Day Out in particular fared well with 71% stating that they intended to buy a ticket next year.

So the industry is still going strong despite "about a third" of survey participants stating less enjoyment at festivals than previously. Almost three quarters are still very much enjoying festivals, although they acknowledge festivals becoming "very mainstream."

A comment from Faster Louder user, ThatDude123, on the Sound Alliance survey, caught my eye:

Were any questions asked about overcrowding on the festival market? When I filled it out I don't remember any, and that seems to be the big issue when I talk to people. It isn't that festivals are better/worse (in fact I personally find them to be better due to our strong dollar bringing in top acts and better understanding of the logistics involved), it's just that you can only take so much time off work and spend so much money before you are eventually fired/broke.

Really the biggest success story of the festival season so far, I'd say, is the Laneway Festival. In less than five years it's sold out two major markets and brought a crowd who usually find festivals "disgusting" and "mainstream" back to festivals.

As opposed, Big Day Out promoter Ken West said to Faster Louder last year that the festival has had numerous reasons and opportunities to skip a year. Glastonbury is taking 2012 off according to Faster Louder in the same article.

Last year, Katherine Feeney of The Brisbane Times wrote about the sheer quantity of festivals in Australia and reasons why the public might be sick of them. The comments confirm the idea that festivals are no longer about music, but an overcrowded, wasteful experience of drug taking (me thinks I'll address the extortionate drink prices at festivals another day), ridiculous sunglasses and fluoro t-shirts.

In the article, Jan Skubiszewski of Melbourne band Jackson Jackson states his view that festivals are "mass populated" and that niche events are starting to emerge, much to the preference of musicians and other creative types looking for differing, improved gig experiences.

However, the more these niche events come up, the more I see of these mini-festivals fail. There was BAM! Festival and Lost Weekend at the same Queensland venue last year, and Blueprint which lost $500,000 in Victoria, late 2009. Trailer Trash, as mentioned by Skubiszewski, has turned to the Woodford festivals calendar to run its programme, opting to cater to a captive audience inside the Planting, Woodford Folk and other festivals held at the venue.

Another result is the constant barging of club events at bars. Is there now just too much of the same stuff happening, that punters are too busy with pubs and clubs to fork out for festivals? Gossip, 299 or whatever the heck that place is, constantly finds a way to invite me via Facebook to every event at the venue. Rosie's Tavern is another in Brisbane that does a similar job. I don't even like DJs or care for any of the unknown bands they promote.

I would definitely like to do more exploration as to the reasons of Australian mini-festival success rates in comparison to larger events. What are your experiences at larger versus smaller festivals?

The Axeman of New Orleans: an Event Management Genius

On March 13, 1919, someone stating that they were the 'Axeman of New Orleans' sent a letter to a newspaper threatening to kill again at 15 past midnight on March 19. He said, however, that he would not kill anyone who went to a jazz show.

Facebook Events: Yay or Nay?

We've all done them. You're hosting a little shindig at home when you've realised you don't have Fred's new phone number and that you'll probably just get Julie's answering machine for the next few days again. What do you do? Facebook it.

Sure the effort of doing so isn't a lot, but how effective are they in actually gaining a successful guest list? In my experience, you could always assume the social network addicts would sign up first, if not immediately, then slowly the numbers creep up until you've got the record player set to Hottest 100 Party Tracks as guests shyly arrive.

Well, anyway, I asked fellow Twitter addicts how they use Facebook events. Next week, I might ask the neighbours, but they'll just look at me strangely and offer a cup of sugar instead.

"I think they are fantastic, except not everyone is on FB. Good marketing ploy of theirs though" - @kirstywrites

Attendance

Clearly diminishes 20% on average. Due to lack of interaction with the host? Possibly. As Facebook ages, less people are taking their RSVPs on the website seriously.

Personal Touch

The main argument many people I speak to have against Facebook is the lack of face-to-face communication. No Twitter respondants actually mentioned this!

Time frame

Clearly you're unable to post a Facebook event for the same day. A week might suffice depending on the size and nature of your event, also on how active your guests are on the social network which can be quite a lot of assuming. Four weeks or even more for a major celebration or fundraiser is ideal if you have this time frame available.

Then there is the "Maybe" RSVP option. Dreaded by event hosts, loved by attendees:

"I can reply 'maybe' to events & they still show up in my timeline, so I can decide to go closer to the time." - @scarlettjen

Diary Management

@ccake, like @iusebiro and @brentoe, syncs FB events with other calculators and also chooses to have e-mail notifications turned on for when the invitations come in, much like @kissability does.

"I do use Facebook events and I have email notifications turned on for invitations. I find it very useful in my busy schedule!" - @kissability

"Handy for knowing about harder to find things (house show parties, gallery openings) new facebook keeps it more hidden though." - @vivzilla

"[I] check my requests (incl event invites) daily, a bit spammy but still quite useful." - @djackmanson

"Events is my primary use of Facebook- I use it constantly as my social calendar. Find it incredibly useful." - @glittertrash

"I use it all the time, both as an attendee and organiser. Very handy." - @sleepydumpling

"I rely heavily on my Facebook events. I'm very forgetful, so having them display in 'coming up' on my homepage really helps." - @hellyeahkate

Authenticity

Having only a Facebook event for an invitation, do people trust these or seek verbal confirmation of the event? @brentoe doesn't seem to think so, but @erikveland has other ideas:

"I rely on it to track my events. Unfortunately event spam has made them useless as a source to send out REAL invitations...Because of event spam, most people will just ignore invitations altogether unless you specifically bring attention to them." - @erikveland

"I use them and so do nearly all of my friends. Event isn't "official" until it's on FB" - @brentoe

Suggestions for Facebook

Option to lose the 'Maybe' RSVP. That would be my main suggestion. What do you think?

"The "no chance" ones can be annoying. It's OK to be invited once, but multiple times?! We need "never invite me" op" - @divabat

"If FB used microformats for events it would be a great improvement. Otherwise I rarely check events" - @zuzu

In closing...

I'm having a house party next weekend, which I'm very excited about, and the Facebook event went up a week or so ago. Let's see how many make it, but in the meantime, what are your views on Facebook events usage?