Here we look at 10 essential music festival tech gadgets festival goers are relying on to create a better experience and highlight the benefits for events.
In recent years, technology has played a big part in outdoor festivals and in particular music festivals. However, not all of that responsibility lies with the event manager. These days, many festival goers are coming prepared with a host of tech gadgets to help them get the most out of the festival experience. With that, of course, there are many that also come unprepared. This is where eventprofs and sponsors can step in and save the day.
We've listed some of the most popular and/or important pieces of music festival tech below:
1. Walkie Talkies
Connectivity is getting better at music festivals but networks do still get gridlocked where large numbers of people and their myriad devices gather. Walkie talkies can keep friendship groups in touch where mobile phones can't. Events can better support attendees by providing meeting areas and clear signage. Sponsor lounges also make great meeting places. Making sponsor lounges and meeting places easy to find is a win for everyone.
The flashlight is perhaps one of the most basic and most essential elements of a music festival survival kit. Although most mobile devices have a very good flashlight, battery life comes at a premium. There is, of course, an opportunity for events to help out those attendees who don't bring a flashlight. Subsequently, this brings several potential branding opportunities for sponsors too.
3. Backup Batteries
As we mentioned above, device battery life comes at a premium when there's nowhere to get a charge and even if there was, who wants to stand around and wait? There are better things to be doing at festivals. For many festival-goers, sharing the experience is as important as the experience itself so keeping those batteries topped up is essential. The best way to achieve this on the go is with a rechargeable battery pack. Unfortunately, battery packs are not an infinite source of power so there's another hurdle to overcome. UK telco, EE, helped festival goers at Glastonbury overcome this by offering a battery pack swapping service.
4. Festival Site Maps
It goes without saying that it's useful to know where everything is at a music festival, at the campsite and even how to get there. Having a good map of the site is an essential piece of festival kit. This can, of course, be a paper map (we recommend folding it and putting it in a polythene bag) or a digital one. To assist event attendees further, many event mobile apps offer digital maps.
5. Festival App
These days the festival mobile app is one of the best ways for attendees to find and access everything they need to know about the event. Event managers can provide attendees with maps as discussed above, lineups, news and exclusive offers via the event mobile app. Another factor that is becoming more common at events is cashless payment. This can also be taken care of by the event app. Some event app suites are also compatible with various wearables making cashless purchases simple and fast. Many event apps also help bring sponsor messaging straight to the attendee.
6. Parking and Tent Finders
In a field of 50,000 cars, it can be pretty hard to remember where the car was parked. For traditionalists, there is always the old-fashioned technique of tying something identifiable to the antenna but for the tech savvy, there is, of course, an app for that. In fact, there are many free apps available to help attendees find their cars. This is also a useful feature that could be built into an event app. It's not just cars that get lost. It can also be hard to find a tent - especially in the dark. Just like parking finders, tent finders can help attendees find their way.
7. Solar Battery Charger
When all else fails, there is always the sun. At least, that's what everyone hopes for at a summer festival. A neat option for getting a few battery bars is, when the weather permits, to use the sun. Various solar chargers are now available for mobile devices. A solar charging lounge could be a popular space at a music festival.
8. Festival Phone
Not all festival goers want or need the smartest of smartphones when they are jumping around in a muddy field. For this reason, dumbphones (phones without apps or internet access) are becoming popular. Unfortunately, although the technology itself may be reliable, the infrastructure supporting it is not. Also, how can attendees get at all that festival info without a smartphone? Festival goers need not worry because technology has bridged the gap. If attendees don't fancy destroying their $1,000 smartphone, there are options like the revamped Nokia 3310. Whether smart or dumb, attendees are relying on mobile phones more and more. It's important that music festivals take this into consideration.
9. Waterproof Gadget Cases
Sadly, not all summer festivals have the pleasure of summer weather. Believe it or not, sometimes it rains and technology doesn't like that. If the devices themselves aren't waterproof (many are now), it's important to have a way to keep the water out. One option is the self-styled plastic bag approach. It might do the job but if it gets dropped in a puddle, it could still be game over. Waterproof cases are available for most devices so it's better to be safe than sorry. Waterproof device cases, bags, and lanyards could be a good way for events and sponsors to provide a bit of protection, should the weather turn.
10. Disposable Camera
Smartphones have great cameras these days so disposable cameras almost seem redundant. However, disposable cameras don't rely on batteries and they are almost indestructible. It's good to have a piece of old tech as a backup. There could be a great opportunity for sponsors to help festival goers capture those moments that would have otherwise been missed because of a flat battery.
Music Festival Tech and Infrastructure
With increasing reliance on mobile tech also comes reliance on the infrastructure that supports it. These days, ensuring the connectivity is good is part and parcel of creating a good overall experience. Attendees need good connectivity for communication, finding information and sharing the event experience on social media. All of this can be a big draw on wireless and mobile networks. Although the extra costs can be quite high, this in itself is a sponsorship opportunity.
As music festival attendees become more reliant on technology, the opportunities for events and sponsors increase. Perhaps the biggest opportunity is to be found in providing an event app with all of the right information on hand but it also pays to think of the little things. Making sure attendees have everything they need is key to ensuring that they get the most out of the festival experience.