The Fyre Festival Failure – What could have been?
Netflix released its brilliant documentary, Fyre, earlier this year and it’s been a talking point
around homes and workplaces ever since. The sheer scale of failure that occurred was catastrophic,
and the way problems were dealt with in the lead up to the event had us all cringing and shouting at
our TVs. The whole scenario goes to show the power of social media advertising and hype building,
so here we ask, how did it all go so wrong for what could have been the world’s best event?
For those who haven’t heard the story, the Fyre Festival was built up to be the biggest luxury music
festival in history, set on a private island with the promise of partying with models from dusk till
dawn. Advertising for the event started way in advance of any actual event planning, with Instagram
influencers and models publicizing the festival in their newsfeeds in exchange for payment and the
promise of tickets. This created such a mass hype that when the tickets did eventually go on sale
they sold out in a matter of days, even with some options costing into the thousands. Long story
short, the organizers were unable to fulfill any of their promises, with the ‘private island’ turning out
to be a fenced off area of concrete and the ‘luxury accommodation’ actually being hurricane shelter
A failure of forward planning was the first major problem for Fyre. Everything from acts to
accommodation was planned far too late in the day to make the event a success. Talent bookers
were given a month to sign up musicians to perform at the festival, something should have been
arranged at least a year in advance. As the event date approached and nothing was finalized, even
those acts who had signed up started to get cold feet and pull out of performing. As the stage went
up (there was even a last-minute race to get this done on time), it seemed less and less likely that
there would be anyone willing to perform on it.
As problems began to mount up and it became clear that the festival was going to be nothing like
what was advertised the call should have been made to cancel the event, or at least be honest with
people about what to expect and offer them the chance to cancel. However, the media teams were
pushed to continue with the hype, which by this point was outright lying, and festival-goers were
duped into believing they were about to have the time of their lives. In this instance, honesty would
have been the best policy and may have helped to salvage some small part of the organizers’
Fyre Festival had massive potential and shows the power of building hype in advance of an event.
Unfortunately, it also shows how badly things can go wrong when there’s a lack of planning and
event management. Every event, no matter how small, is affected by these same issues so if you’re
planning an event make sure you learn from these mistakes!