Festivalisation: Putting a Spin on Traditional Trade Shows

Traditional business events like trade shows are starting to incorporate festival-type experiences by including outdoor elements such as parks, concerts, and parties. Is festivalisation the future of events or a mere fad?

The word festival comes from the Latin festa, which translates directly into the English word feast. The original purpose of a feast was to commemorate a religious holiday (or holy day), which is a day set apart. We still celebrate holidays with special dinners; take Thanksgiving as an example.  

Of course, as time went on, festivals expanded their meaning to include events celebrating communities that revolve around any topic imaginable. There are jazz festivals, chili festivals and movie festivals. These are often outdoor events that draw massive crowds of fans, hobbyists and celebrities.  

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Traditional trade shows are strictly business events meant to encourage exchanging ideas, networking and education. However, just as the internet transformed how we communicate information, blending education with entertainment into edutainment, the younger generations are mixing business with pleasure. As a result, we have festivalisation.   

What is Festivalisation?  

Festivalisation refers to traditional trade shows taking on more festival-like characteristics. Whereas trade shows once functioned primarily like ancient middle eastern bazaars or flea markets, they now have a broader purpose of accelerating careers with college-level courses and showcasing the latest industry news and an outlet to meet other like-minded people.

Younger generations, such as the Millennials and Gen Z, appear to be driving this change. They’re also primarily responsible for legitimizing experiential marketing, a marketing tactic that seeks to create a community centered around a brand through shared experiences. According to an Eventbrite survey, 78% of Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than tangible things.  

With the advent of social media, it’s no surprise people are placing more importance on experiences now that they can share their travels and doings with a broad audience. Some experiential campaigns (also called activations) get crazy. For example, Lipton Tea did a giant waterslide in the middle of the city of London and handed out samples of their tea.  

What are some examples of festivalisation?  

Following the demographics, the industries that draw a younger crowd, such as gaming and progressive tech, are the first to experience festivalisation. Gaming conventions and progressive technology shows like the Bitcoin Conferences in Miami give credence to this new fad’s effectiveness.

The Bitcoin Conferences still had many traditional trade show elements like booths, tables, keynote speakers, and educational sessions. However, the Bitcoin 2021 and 2022 editions also strip the formality of trade shows by hosting outdoor concerts and spectacles, including Sumo wrestling matches, basketball courts, and a half-pipe demonstration by Tony Hawk.  

The Bitcoin Conference utilized the space outside the Miami Convention Center, Pride Park. These crazy spectacles were happening around the inside event, giving people more of a festival experience. By providing a more comfortable environment for its attendees, Bitcoin was able to create a truly unforgettable experience.  

Bitcoin also hosted an after-party for VIPs known as The Whale Party. This ocean-themed party had all sorts of underwater scenic elements. The main feature was a ship and a giant whale’s tale. This party was not just happening indoors; there were terrific spectacles to be seen outside as well, with a famous DJ playing and dancers dancing outside; these grand spectacles truly brought this part to life, making this event unforgettable.  

Will festivalisation be a part of your next event?  

The Trade Group is known for designing and building award-winning exhibits for traditional trade shows. However, we do much more, including event management. We can be a general contractor for trade shows, corporate events and conferences. We recently won the Tempest Award for our work with the Pokémon World Championships in London.  

If you need help preparing for your next event, contact us below!  

The Trade Group is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit or an event that brings in leads and helps you achieve your business goals. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585. 

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