Thursday, 18 September 2014

Barclaycard British Summertime Vs SIGEST Festival


I don't usually 'review' events but this summer I attending two music festivals -  Barclaycards BST Festival at Hyde Park on Sunday 6th July & SZIGET Festival in Budapest on Saturday 16th August. 

Obviously it goes without saying these are two quite different festivals; firstly BST is held in the UK and is a collection of one day events run across July, Sziget is a 7 day party held in Budapest, Hungary! The line-up is quite different as Sziget has 16 different stages to BST 6's *of which I only found 3*, also their audiences are very very different - BST has a different headliner who gets to pick the 3 acts who play the main stage before them - therefore the target audience member tends to be a fan of all the performers. Sziget has such a diverse number of stages appealing to the pop acts, seen at BST, through to full on heavy metal bands! 

Now before I continue I should clarify that the music at both events was brilliant; I saw McBusted, Backstreet Boys and The Vamps play at BST & Bombay Bicycle Club, Madness and The Prodigy play at Sziget. The real comparison is from my experience of each event in terms of event management - this is not a post discussing the event but instead of how the event was organised.

Website: Pre & Post event




The site is simple to navigate but only answers the basic questions that festival goers might have, cannot find any information about why the event takes place, how long it has been going on for or who the organisers are. There are quite a few aspects that I think could be improved to make it a much more interesting website, which should build up the excitement for the event. 

1. View the line-up by each day rather than venue. 

2. Change the layout of the Event Info sections so that they are all on one page. 

3. Include a FAQ section. 

4. Make sure you can easily click the contact us section from the Home Page. 

5. Post Event; Put up the dates for next years events 

6. Post Event; Focus on showing the highlights from this years festival. *also the photographs from the 2014 events are of a very poor quality & look they were taken from audience members* 



This is an incredibly easy website to navigate, as an event which attracts international attendees you can easily change the language at the top of the site. The thing I noticed the first time I visited was the vast amount of information they give you, every single question you could EVER have was answered & they did so with a great amount of humour! 

Post event they re-vamp the whole site to focus on the highlights from the festival - with videos edited of each day, backstage videos and pictures. When you click the tickets for 2015 it tells you the date they will be released and all the info is focused towards everyone who has just attended. 

In all honest there isn't anything I would change about the site as they really focus on engaging with the festival goers before and after the event! 

Actual Event: 

Arrival


BST: Public transport was really easy as per usual in London, although there was no advertising or much signs once you arrived at the nearest tube stations. Getting into the event was difficult, to start with everyone arrives to get in at the same time* & you have to use the gate printed on your ticket - which for most was the main entrance. I had to pick up my ticket from the box office, which wasn't signed posted and it took us a while to find a steward to direct us. The box office was on the other side of Hype Park from the main entrance and we then had to head back on ourselves to enter through the right gate. 

The two things I noticed the most was the lack of signs & stewards, it wasn't a nice environment to arrive too and didn't start the event off in the best way. 

*You could only get into the event from 1.30pm 

SZIGET: Everyone in Budapest knows the event is going on & from my hotel I only had to take one Tram and train. The tram announced which stop you needed to get off to head to Sziget, and at the station there was a section of staff who were just there to direct festival goers & sell train tickets to the site. Although myself and a large group got off at the wrong station *due to there being no signs*, it was very easy to walk down to the festival and then the entrance was very very easy and seamless, there were enough people handing out tickets and checking wristbands & more than enough security staff dealing with bag checks!

I arrived a good 2 hours before the music started so didn't have to deal with any queues, but the staff were really friendly and also quick with getting people through. They split the entrance so some were for people collecting tickets and others for just checking wristbands.

Stages/Venues


BST: Apparently research has shown that there were 6 stages but when I got there I was only aware of 3. Of the 3, The Theatre was closed & I never found the Village Hall, even after walking around the site 3 times. I spent moat of the day sat enjoying the MainStage music, which was really lovely when the sun was out & close to all the food stalls and various bars.


The layout of the event was pretty good, although they could have used more maps and signs around site listing all the toilets, venues and food as some places were near dead ends, which had less footfall.


The thing that really annoyed me was that BST didn't announce via social media or on the app that two of the acts scheduled to play that day were not going to be there. They also didn't explain why the theatre venue was closed* & considering people spend £55 for 1 day ticket its nice to be told all of these prior to arriving on site.

*The Theatre was closed the day before & they made the decision to keep it closed on the Saturday prior to the event starting.

Sziget: There is a crazy number of stages as this festival & the site is massive - even with my handy passport map I got lost! I stayed mostly at the Main Stage as well, cause why would you miss Madness!? The main stage is in a really great location, right by a lot of bars and food stalls & you can see it from almost every spot.


I also went and had a look at some of the other stages & the thing I noticed the most was that even though they were all quite small, what this did is make it fell nice and busy even with quite a small number. The worst thing is having a very big stage but hardly anyone in front enjoying the music.


They had a massive variety of music and stages to keep you occupied all day & all 7 days the event is running. What I thought was fantastic is that all the stages listed when people were on all the different stages in between the performances. 

Food and Drink


BST: Now I am used to London prices, therefore the £5 a pint was not a shock for me. The food was pretty reasonable, I only spent £5.50 on my dinner & wasn't starving afterwards. There were a few stands that were on the more expensive side which I grow to expect at all festival or live events. 

It is sad that you not only have to spend a large amount to get in but a considerable amount when there as well, however it was no different from any other festival in the UK.

Sziget: In comparison to BST this place was so so so so so so so cheap! The exchange rate works in favour for international travellers & it only cost me £1.60 a pint. If you are a beer drinker it was amazing, spirits cost a fair bit more but still cheaper than UK events - however there was little choice of what mixers you could have with it all seeming to be coke or orange juice! 

In regards to food I have never seen so many choices dotted around the site. There were places by all the campsites and in between all the venues & again it was a fantastic price, although obviously more expensive than in the rest of Budapest! 

Overall Atmosphere



BST: Everyone I spoke to was having a great time at the event & when Backstreet Boys and McBusted were playing it was really great seeing EVERYONE singing along. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and a lovely way to spend the day.

Would I go back again? Probably not, unless there was a headliner 'I just have to see' at £55 a ticket I think it is a very expensive way to spend a Saturday.


Sziget: Incredible! I spoke to so many people who said they would be back next year & just in the one day I spent there I had a really amazing time. The music was really great & there were enough places to go that you don't have be partying 'hard' every night!

Would I go back again? Hand down YES!

Final Thoughts 

BST


If you are looking for a nice day event during the summer to take family or friends then BST is a good option, it is a lot cheaper than a weekend festival ticket and you don't have to camp! *always a plus!* However I would say that other festivals such as End of the Road or In the Woods are a better experience. I also think there were vital areas that were missed, such as advertising on the fencing around the site, lack of signs and most importantly lack of stewards.

Stars: 2/5


Sziget


This was the better of the two day events, however in all honesty when you have a festival where the sun is out the WHOLE time then of course I shall prefer that! The only issue is that the event is out in Budapest, Hungary so when booking tickets you need to include transport there and back. Yet considering you get a 7 day event with performers from around the world, compared to a 4 day festival in the UK with rain and mud, it is worth it!

Stars: 5/5 

Did you go to either of these events?
Are there other festivals that you would recommend? 
Let me know in the comments below or via twitter




Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Applying to Uni through Clearing is NOT failing!

Original Picture from Sam via Unsplash

5 years ago I was a 17 years old, year 13 students who was taking Drama, Photography and Government and Politics as my A-levels. I had no clue about what I wanted to do after I left school or what I could study if I carried on with higher education, all I knew was that I didn't want to carry on with the subjects I was taking at the time.

After attending a Politics conference & speaking to friends I found out that Event Planning was an actual degree and also something I was actually interested in; but to get into the University of Gloucestershire I needed a minimum of one B and two C's.

Here's my confession - I got a U in my 2009 politics exam. Not only was this an incredible blow to my self esteem and in my belief in my own abilities, it also made me very aware that I might not get into University or GOD FORBIT have to apply via Clearing, which due to ridiculous rumours from my peers was THE WORST!


Time for some TRUTH!

APPLYING THROUGH CLEARING IS NOT FAILING

A lot of websites talk about it being the second chance, and yes there is some truth in that because some students go through the process as they were unable to gain the grades needed for their 1st choice, but really Clearing is another opportunity to really consider your future.

It's hard at 17/18 to really know what you want to do & when applying for uni you not only have to find a course that really engages and interests you, because why spend £9,000 on something you dislike? You also have to find a place you're happy to spend three + years; looking at location, distance from home, nightlife, work opportunities etc

And I can tell you from personal experience that getting your first choice doesn't guarantee that you will love it. So having to go through the clearing process doesn't mean you have FAILED.

Hannah Wilcock is an Event and Festival Management Student at Buckinghamshire New University and originally she didn't want to attend university but applied because everyone else was *a feeling many have when in school!* However after she found out she hadn't gotten the grades needed to get into uni she decided to just start applying for hospitality job, but a year spent trying to get her foot in the door and being turned down because the jobs wanted graduates with a degree, Hannah decided to apply for an events course via clearing. 


"My course has been everything I hoped for and has reaffirmed that hospitality is the career for me, and my advice to students applying through Clearing would be to look at the whole package of the university and not just focus on one option. My initial choice was made because I wanted to be at a big university with lots of nightlife, but having come to a smaller university I can't now imagine studying anywhere else."

I understand that University isn't for everyone, I have made no secret of almost dropping out after my first term, and when talking about the events and hospitality sector a degree is not always a necessity. You can try looking for volunteer roles within your local community or start working in a Hotel or venue as a front of house member of staff and build up your experience within that organisation!

I know a lot of universities have their Freshers week happen at the moment & I also know that when all your friends have gone off to start these new chapter you might think you have made the wrong decision in not going to uni this year - however clearing is open till the end of September so you can change that, head on over to UCAS to see what places are still available!*

*But if that feels too rushed, then you can also get ready to apply to start university in September 2015 and take this next 12 months as an opportunity to figure out what you want to do, go on some adventures & earn some money!

Good Luck!

Three Places to go for more advice on Clearing:
  1. Clearing Advice by UCAS
  2. A Guide to Clearing 2014 by The Student Room
  3. Complete Guide to University Clearing by What Uni?  



Thank you to Claire for sending across Hannah's case study, and for the topic idea of Clearing. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The National Blog Awards 2015 #UKBA15


It has been 5 months since I crazily won the Best Individual Events Blog at the 2014 National Blog Awards & i'm still trying to find the perfect place to house it! But the time has come for nominations for the 2015 awards!

I entered last year because they are the first people to recognised so many different topic areas, other than the typical fashion and beauty blogs, which included the Events Industry - ideal as this blog *and many others* focuses on this topic area. Blogging is popular across many different industries & it is great to see that being noted and shared!

This year the awards are getting bigger & better, without a doubt there shall be many more people getting involved. Obviously I have entered once again because WHY NOT!? However it is my personal aim to see more events blogs partaking in this amazing opportunity, the whole reason myself and Irina created the #EventBlogChat is to connect more events bloggers together, & because we want to see more people using blogs as a platform to communicate on event industry matters!

Now I promise I won't be bombarding you when the public voting opens, I was shocked last year to even get shortlisted and winning has changed a lot of things for me - its opened a ton of doors and opportunities but this year I just want to see some great blogs being seen and spoken about!

If you are thinking about entering but are unsure, DON'T BE! You might not win but you will meet some amazing people, learn from others & realise even more about what you want to do with your blog! Last year I met the wondering Suzy, Annie, Irina, Becky & so many many more incredible bloggers & this year I want to do just the same; if you are thinking about going ahead and participating them please let me know in the comments or via twitter!