Love it or loathe it, VIP is a vital and enduring aspect of the festival experience. Some more egalitarian promoters scoff at the notion that some fans are more “important" than others and focus their attention on elevating the whole experience. Others recognize that some fans want to have a more comfortable experience and are happy to fork out significantly more money for it.
But it can be tough to know what your fans consider to be “worth it”. Is it simply enough to give people a better vantage point of the stage? Or do they require freebies, like food and drink? And are you targeting the high dollar, luxury VIP, or the super fan looking to "go fancy” for the weekend?
We’ve looked at some of the most important elements of a successful VIP package, and have given you some pointers on rolling them into your package in order to keep your fans feeling like it was extra money well spent.
Line Cutting for VIPs
We write a lot about the benefits of slashing lines, and how they are frequently cited among the biggest problems from the fan’s perspective. If your VIP pass goes for as much as double the price of a GA pass, you should consider adding some shortcuts in here and there. Coachella—a festival known for the sheer scale of its site—has a VIP entrance, clearly recognizing that the miles and miles of marching in the heat isn’t something that anyone associates with the VIP experience.
Similarly, you need to make sure that the bars and food vendors in your VIP area are well staffed so that wait times are as short as possible. RFID cashless technology is an excellent way to cut lines across your entire event, with transaction times cut from an average of 90 seconds to just 15 seconds. To find out more about how cashless technology can benefit your event, click here.
If your fans have gone this deep into their pocket for an experience, they expect much better than Bud Light and hot dogs. We’ve been to some major festivals where the shockingly limited selection of big bland brand alcohol crosses over into the VIP section. You might find that your average fan doesn’t care which kind of beer they’re quaffing, but chances are your VIP customers do. You should strive to give them options beyond what the GA fans have.
Something which Goldenvoice festivals Coachella and FYF do very well is reach out to cool local cocktail bars or breweries and invite them to host a pop-up bars in the VIP area. You don’t need to go all out and build a mini bar district on site, but having a place for your VIPs to get a craft Moscow Mule will go down well.
Seating and Shade
You should be conscious that your VIP fans are likely to be on the older end of the spectrum of your demographic, and therefore will be expecting some amenities that the younger fans can forgo. Shade and seats are absolutely crucial for a hot festival, and while you should be scattering them around your site, they are essential in the VIP area.
We spoke to experiential marketing specialist Michael Ilves about some of the most successful activations he had seen at festivals, and he cited a Vans seating and shade structure at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.
“Vans looked at the festival and knew that there wasn’t enough shade or seating, so they put up a 50×50 tent, threw some branded benches and the spot was full all weekend!”
For the second time in a week, we’ve referenced the bathroom problem at music festivals. As one of the chief complaints from festival fans, the long lines coupled with Dickensian levels of squalor make for an experience that begs to be upgraded. It should be no surprise to learn that your VIP patrons expect cleaner and more accessible facilities for their money.
Consider the kind of trailer bathrooms provided by US-based Royal Restrooms. They have a variety of options on their website, all of which are a considerable upgrade in luxury from the blue plastic loo.
Most fans would probably greatly appreciate free alcohol as part of their VIP experience, and there’s no question that a promise like that would drive sales through the roof. But that’s a minefield, and should only be offered with extremely careful consideration to price point, vibe and health and safety.
Perhaps a safer freebie than alcohol is snacks. For example, Bonnaroo gives out free ice cream in its VIP area. Partnering up with a couple of brands and allowing them to distribute their product in your area is an excellent way to both generate revenue and give your guests a little something extra.
Vantage Point of the Action
Your VIP patrons are going to want to have a better view of the stage than their GA counterparts, so you need to consider placement as key to the experience.
Or if your festival is being live-streamed, you could put screens and a seating area in the VIP so that patrons can chill a little and still get a look at all the action.