Imagine spending thousands of dollars on an elite weekend in the Bahamas attending a music festival deemed “the next Coachella."
You're expecting luxury cabanas, surrounded by the world’s most famous models, athletes, and musicians only to find yourself stranded on an island with shark-infested waters, sandflies, and none of the musical performers you were promised.
This was the reality for consumers attending Fyre Festival this year.
Seemingly doomed from the start, Fyre Festival is the latest case study on what not to do when trying to run a successful business.
Of the nearly 400 influencers -- called Fyre Starters -- who shared social posts and videos promoting the event, none noted that they were being paid to do so.
While some were paid outright, others received free flights, tickets, and accommodations in exchange for helping spread the word about the event. It’s illegal to not specify that you receive payment for promoting an event according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Also, in the end, a lot of these people didn’t show up. Most of the musicians, models, and athletes, who teased the Fyre Festival as the place to be, didn't bother attending the event themselves.
One of the most concerning shortcomings revealed was the lack of security and infrastructure.
Though Fyre Festival claimed it was "working with local law enforcement, private contractors, and the Royal Bahamian Defense Force to provide a secure festival experience," it later came out that the Royal Bahamian Defense Force never even heard of the festival.
Even after the event was canceled after its first day, attendees were stranded on the island with a lack of food, water, shelter, and medical care. Many resorted to stealing beds from the disaster relief tents (which were the housing accommodations provided instead of luxury cabanas) and sleeping outside for the night. These safety issues are at the heart of a $100 million lawsuit recently filed.
We all know the ensuing results but what I found most fascinating was what people involved in the event had to say after it imploded.
Many influencers shared apologies and immediately tried distancing themselves from it. Even rapper, Ja Rule and co-founder Billy McFarland did not accept the blame right away. Ja Rule went as far as claiming it was “NOT MY FAULT” in his apology tweet.
Apologize for any wrong doing and establish a plan to rectify the situation as best as possible. This will humanize your brand and set your business apart from others that tend to stay silent or point the finger at someone else and can help salvage your brand in the public eye.
Ultimately, Fyre Festival did release an apology and a way for attendees to submit for a refund but it did not come without the mention of next year’s festival.
Though there were many mistakes made along the way, Fyre Festival did not have to result in the way it did. Having a better plan from the start could have helped the festival avoid many of the issues that led to its downfall -- like the lack of control in its influencer marketing and event organization.