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Countryfest, Folk Fest & Fringe: The tech you need for MB summer festivals

Summer is here, which means it’s festival season—and there’s no shortage of them to check out in Manitoba.

Manitoba festivals and technology

With social media use booming, Manitoba festivals are ensuring they stay connected with audiences on new channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Dauphin’s Countryfest, Canada’s longest running country music festival, has a Facebook account that drums up excitement all year round for this multi-day festival. Winnipeg Folk Festival organizers also engage heavily on social networks including Twitter and Instagram, and have recently started using Snapchat in hopes of appealing even further to their Millennial audience. And the ever-popular Fringe Fest is connecting with audiences via their own mobile app.

With smartphones in almost every pocket, festival-goers are more connected than ever—and technology has become an important part of the entire experience. As each festival evolves and improves every year, so does the way the three interact with each other. Festival patrons, businesses and organizers have all welcomed the shift.

How apps enhance your festival experience

Festivals in Manitoba have adopted smartphone apps as their main hub for patrons to get all the information they need in one place. Other businesses can take notes, as these festivals have learned how to connect with massive audiences, often in real-time.

The apps are packed with resources to enhance the event and make it as accessible as possible. Food and beverage businesses working at the festivals are also reaping the rewards, as many of the apps feature important information about each restaurant, which helps patrons decide where and what they want to eat, particularly helpful for patrons with dietary restrictions.

Plus, these apps are integral at keeping patrons engaged with organizers, from real-time alerts and event notices to festival feedback.

Winnipeg Folk Festival

Winnipeg Folk Festival, Manitoba’s largest music festival with over 70,000 attendees per year, takes place July 7 through 10. The festival boasts a streamlined, user-friendly app that is chock-full of information including performance schedules, maps, artist profiles and food and beverage vendor lists.. (Download it here for iOS and Android).

Even more impressively, the app features a radio station powered by SoundCloud that give users a taste of what kind of music they can expect to take in at the fest. And because the festival takes place at Birds Hill Provincial Park where Wi-Fi can be more challenging to access, organizers have ensured that the app is able to run without an Internet connection.

“It’s getting important festival information in the hands of our festival community faster and easier. Before, patrons had to wait until the printed program book was on sale or take the time to search our website. Now we can publish festival info on the app as soon as it’s ready,” says Kelly Romas, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Winnipeg Folk Festival.

“There’s also a feature where users can create a custom schedule for themselves and the app will notify them 15 minutes before their favourite concerts and workshops are going to start.”

Lauren Parsons is a long-time Folkie who uses the app every year. “I love having the schedule and map in the palm of my hands. It helps me stay organized. I also like reading the artist bios and being able to link to them from the schedule, which helps me decide who I want to see,” she said.

Winnipeg Folk Fest App

Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival

The Fringe, running July 13 through 24, has also hopped on the wagon with their app that features show schedules, ticket information and short synopses of each production. You’ll also get “How To Fringe” tips for newbies to the festival, and info for families who want to find shows best suited for their little ones. (Download it here for iOS and Android).

“It’s improved a lot from previous years and is much more handy than using the mobile site. Plus it’s easier to carry around than a printed program,” said Colin Koop, an avid Fringer who started using the app during last year’s Fringe Festival.

A great feature of any festival app is the mapping function, which the Fringe Fest also makes available. When hopping from venue to venue, it’s nice to get the fastest route to make sure you don’t miss a show—or show up late only to be called out by the witty performers. And if you need a break, the “Outdoor Site Map” will show you all the key locations, including the beer tents, patios and food vendors.

Dauphin’s Countryfest

Countryfest, happening this June 30 through July 3 is using social media to its advantage with their channels, garnering over 17,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and 8,000 followers on Twitter.

The fest regularly updates their pages with important ticket information, giveaways and contests, plus features on the food vendors they work with and announcements pertinent to their audience. Their pages also act as forum boards for fans to review great experiences they’ve had at the festival, and to sell extra passes that need a new home.

Like the other festivals, Countryfest also has an app. (Download it for iOS and Android).

Dauphin Countryfest

The data-driven festival

Technology is changing the way we interact with festivals, and it’s also providing useful data to organizers to decide how to make their festivals even better.

Winnipeg Folk Festival’s app has an integrated festival survey that they encourage patrons to fill out during their down time.

On top of feedback, location tracking is being used at popular festivals across the globe to determine which artists matter most to attendees.

According to Macworld, California’s popular Coachella music festival has worked with app developer Aloompa to track their patrons’ foot locations via Bluetooth. During the festival, the tracker determined that 40 per cent of the audience stayed to watch rapper Tyler the Creator after an electronic music duo’s set, which provided them concrete data in support of booking the rapper for future festivals.

Why online engagement is integral to the success of your business

Technology and the Internet has revolutionized the way we interact with our experiences, and business owners should take heed.

Now more than ever, consumers want all the information they need—quickly and hassle-free, in one place. If you haven’t already done so, nurturing the relationship with your target audiences and stakeholders through apps and online engagement will be one of the most valuable move you can make in becoming a successful, thriving business.

Have you used a festival app that you love? Tell us the features that you use the most, and what features you’d love to see in future app updates. 

Stefanie Cutrona

Stefanie Cutrona is an online marketer, corporate videographer and writer who's worked with a number of clients across Canada, including Vancouver and Calgary. She holds a diploma in Creative Communications from Red River College and has worked in various online marketing roles over the years, specializing in paid online advertising. She is passionate about the digital world and loves everything music, travel and the arts.

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