It’s a much harked generational slur that young people these days are documenting the moment instead of living in it. Although a sea of lighters does look a lot more epic than an ocean of sterile cell phone lights, the truth is that smartphones are driving the evolution and development of festivals. While the level of marketing exposure from social media and user-generated content is very well known, tailored apps are becoming key drivers behind events going digital. And Nashville-based startup Aloompa is blazing this trail.

Founded in 2009 by young entrepreneurs Drew Burchfield, Kurt Nelson, and Tyler Seymour, Aloompa was developed in reaction to the newly launched iPhone and its App Store, and the omnipresent influence they saw the devices playing in our lives. The trio started building apps for a couple of country artists, but youthful impatience pushed them towards the events industry, and to the two major festivals in town: CMA Fest and Bonnaroo.

☀️ Sunny days are on the way ☀️ (: @zornphoto)

A post shared by bonnaroo (@bonnaroo) on Feb 18, 2017 at 3:01pm PST

Fast forward nine years and Aloompa’s product FestApp is being used by over 250 festivals worldwide and is the most dominant app service in the event space. But it’s all too common for event promoters to think of FestApp in terms of what it offers their customers, as opposed to what it offers the event, seeing it as a fancy accessory reserved for the Coachellas and Bonnaroos of the world.

We chatted to Aloompa founder Drew Burchfield about their product and got under the skin of how it can benefit the festival, help maintain a buzz, and pull in unexpected revenue.

It’s Not About Apps Anymore

“I had a conversation with someone who you could consider a Luddite of sorts when it comes to this stuff, and I was trying to explain that it’s not just about the app anymore,” Drew told Intellitix. “There are so many different components to the software and many different ways that it can be used—both from the consumer and the company’s standpoint—and we can coach the event producers through that and make sure they’re getting exactly what they need from the service.”

Yes, FestApp allows the audience to make custom calendars, view maps, read about artists, get notifications of changes etc., and in turn doing away with the traditional printed booklet. But what’s less known is that the apps themselves are becoming revenue streams for the event producers.

“One of the biggest advantages [to promoters] is the ability to draw in additional sponsorship dollars by creating new digital assets for your festival to be able to sell, like banner ads or post-event targeting. Right now a lot of the sponsors that are spending the most money in the industry are looking for digital ROI. And that’s the business that we’re in now, and we have a lot of different components that are going to benefit a lot of different people.”

And of course, there’s data….

Brands Love Aloompa’s Data Analysis

Festivals, like the rest of the world around them, are becoming increasingly driven and influenced by data. The festival industry is a competitive and largely saturated market, and when coupled with the introduction of investment-cautious brands, has led to festival promoters scrambling to gather as much data about their audience as possible. Aloompa’s presence in the pocket of festival goers has thrust them to the cutting edge of this trend.

“In 2014 we started a new product called Presence, which does proximity marketing and analytics around attendees and their location-based behavior,” explains Drew. “We know what they have gone to see and how long they were there. It’s a high-resolution look at the patterns of behavior and mannerisms of the attendee.”

Presence use grew by 50 percent in 2015, and last year they recorded 3,500 beacons and nearly 800 geofences deployed across 47 festivals, which gathered over 30 million pieces of data about festival attendees and their onsite habits.

“In the industry right now,” Drew continues, “you have this en masse collection of data. You’ve got collection, results, conclusions, and recommendations. And we’re seeing that collection is becoming more prominent as brands become involved and want more guaranteed ROI.”

Delivering Content

Following the event, festival goers typically won’t delete the app immediately, so why not deliver tailored content directly to your consumers post-event?

“Having a content strategy is really important post-event,” Drew explains. ”We’ve seen some festivals do some contests or sponsorship related engagement post-event, which kept people engaged.”

One such example is LiveStory, a sort of sleek digital recap of who you saw throughout the weekend, in case things got a little…”rowdy”, as Drew says. “LiveStory is a layer on top of all the location data that we gathered all weekend. So it’ll actually tell you where you were and which acts you saw, they have their profiles on SoundCloud or Apple Music integrated into it so that you can listen to their tunes. For EDC Orlando that was also sponsored by a brand, so you can see that there is additional scope within the app to generate revenue.

FestApp Integrates With Other Technology

As of yet, there are no single, catch-all solution to gathering crucial sales and behavior data at festivals, so the smart thing to do is to double up, and find out what will give you the most comprehensive information without costing you a small fortune, or infringing upon your audience’s enjoyment of the event.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Intellitix for merging data sources together,” said Drew. “Starting in 2011, we allowed users to register their wristbands with the mobile app, which allowed us to tie mobile behavior to physical behavior and back to the ticket order. The RFID links back to the ticket, which comes with a lot of integrated information into it also. Now I know who bought the ticket, what shows they went to see, for how long, and if there’s cashless payment involved, what they ate, what they drank and what their economic impact was.”

“The mobile app ends up becoming the connector, telling the story of what people did when they came to your festival,” he continues.

Aloompa has brought a vital tool to the industry that allows event producers to simultaneously find out more about their audience, enhance their experience, and generate more revenue through new sponsorship opportunities. And with the world increasingly moving towards digital solutions, it’s best to integrate platforms such as these into your business sooner rather than later.

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