First Impressions Count in Festival Queueing Management

Marcin Lukasik is Business Development Manager for the retail and events sectors within Tensator Group, with over seven years of experience in the queue management industry. Tensator is recognised as a global leader in queue management solutions, with over 100 years’ experience in the retail, transportation, finance, health & safety, events & hospitality, and public sectors, to name a few.

As thousands of visitors descend upon the UK’s variety of music festivals happening across the summer, managing and exceeding expectations will be at the top of festival organisers’ agenda. First impressions are key, and while guests will be thinking primarily about seeing their favourite artists, they must be managed in an organised fashion that allows them to navigate the site in a stress free and safe environment.

Following yet another Glastonbury Festival marred by queues of traffic jams lasting up to 12 hours, the time for efficient queuing systems has never been more pressing. While some aspects of this cannot be helped (country roads, bad weather conditions) meeting guests’ expectations once they finally arrive to the festival site can have a huge impact on their overall experience and likelihood of a return visit.

With around 175,000 people having made the Glastonbury site their home for up to five days this year, efficiently managing their access to campsites, stage areas and food courts was of no doubt one of the top security and logistical concerns for festival organisers.

Looking ahead to further festivals to come this summer, a lot of what staff can prepare for is easily enforced. Deploying multi-lane queues upon entry for example, will allow guests to split into efficient funnels of access, and this also has a lot to do with harmonising guest psychology.

When we see a huge queue, feelings of excitement often turn negative when it is likely to take a long time to reach the front, with boredom and frustration being a common complaint. If queues are efficiently split, into multi-lane systems, queues are perceived to be shorter. For festival organisers, having the necessary staff and equipment to align with these systems is therefore of the utmost importance to keeping guests safe and happy.

In some ways, festivals are a bit behind the more efficient methods of queuing, through no fault of their own. Take for example, electronic call forwarding systems deployed in retail outlets, which speedily alert consumers to the next available cash desk, or virtual assistants at sporting locations, which entertain visitors. Technological innovations such as these are obviously not easily tiered to the festival environment, but there is no reason why staff can’t utilise temporary solutions such as designated barriers and banners to help in aspects such as queuing and wayfinding.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges at music festivals is ensuring everyone makes it safely back to their tents at night. In a crowded environment of thousands of tents, all campsites and guest areas can look the same, so it is important to deploy solutions that will help make navigation easier. An effective example of this would be reflective webbing or tape, which increases visibility in dark conditions by adjusting to the light from guest’s torches. Implementing this in tactical locations and along key access routes will help those in attendance to plant something memorable in their mind as a marker for where their campsite and tent is located. Having enough staff on-board – vigilant to any on-the-ground enquiries – will also help to assist guests as they make their way around the site.

Essentially, ensuring guests expectations are met from a logistical point of view should be of foremost concern for festival organisers. With visitors paying around £250 upwards for some of the biggest music festivals the UK has to offer, any negative queuing experience can play a huge role in guest retention rates. Festival organisers should not underestimate the huge power word of mouth has stemming from negative queuing experiences, particularly around essential amenities such as toilets and food outlets. The latter in particular is of huge importance for festival income, required to efficiently run these festivals year-on-year.

Here at Tensator, we understand the positive impact efficient queuing management systems can have in boosting profit and guest feedback. A good visitor experience stays long in the mind afterwards, as does a negative one, so festival organisers should be keen to not only meet but also exceed guest management expectations this summer. While many unique of-the-moment challenges can occur at festival sites, by utilising a combination of common sense approaches and a little bit of guest psychology, festival organisers and guests can look forward to many more memorable festival moments for years to come.