Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas is North America’s largest electronic dance music festival, with over 520,000 attendees this past May. The festival is not just known for bringing all of the biggest names in electronic music to one place, but also for innovative stage design and attendee experiences.
We might consider festivals as something we do for fun and conferences as something we do for work, but the lines are more blurred than ever before. My experience made one thing very clear: whether it’s a B2B conference or a music festival, our goal as experience designers is to create experiences that lead to a transformation of being through emotions and interactions.
GPJ has a long history of working in the B2B experience space, and many clients might not think that this expertise transfers over to the B2C realm. That logic is flawed. While the production elements might differ between a sales conference and a music festival, the core components remain the same.
My 3-Day Festival Experience Left Me Wondering:
- What can B2B events learn from transformative B2C festivals?
- How are sponsors showing up at festivals, and is it any different from how we see them at conferences?
- What does this mean for GPJ (and for me as an experience strategist)?
The Great Unifier: The Attendee Journey
All experience design begins with the attendee journey. I took my journey as a festivalgoer and compared it to what most would consider the polar opposite: the executive experience at a conference.
A B2B conference and a B2C music festival are composed of similar components that are applied in very different ways. When you remove the artificial delineation between “B2C” and “B2B”, the underlying patterns of their journeys are relatively the same.
When creating experiences, we consider every element, from the entry to the attendee’s final moments onsite. Even though one event might have breakout sessions while the other has a mainstage DJ set, both experiences are designed to appeal to human emotion and elicit a desired response. Regardless of type, the ultimate goal of any experience should be for attendees to feel that their time has been well spent.
As experience designers, we have the power to piece together components in whatever way accomplishes the business goal and makes the attendee feel valued.
Rave or Conference, the Sponsor Strategy Stays the Same
The reality is that no attendee goes to an event for the sponsors. At a B2B conference, busy attendees have packed agendas; at a festival, it’s no different. In some ways, this levels the playing field and simplifies the equation.
The best sponsors at EDC leaned into the fact that attendees weren’t there for them and integrated themselves into the experience:
In addition to offering a fun experience, Verizon phone towers were everywhere to ensure that festivalgoers had service
An official transportation partner with co-branded planes that created hype at the beginning of the attendee journey
An integrated place of respite where attendees could have a drink and step away from the fast-paced festival
B2B sponsors should consider similar approaches. If a sponsor can provide something people want or need at an experience, they will draw crowds and build a brand perception of being in tune with their customers’ needs.
Instead of just trying to stand out with a flashy booth, the best sponsors augment the attendee experience and create a reason for the attendee to stop their busy day to engage with them. By integrating into the world of the event, sponsors allow the flow of the experience to continue uninterrupted.
What Does This Mean for GPJ and Our Clients?
We are experts in designing and executing experiences that appeal to human emotion. The most successful events do this regardless of the market they are targeting. In Part 2 of Electrified Experiences, read our in-depth view into the shared audience journeys between B2B and B2C events to discover how much overlap exists.