The challenge of managing vendors at festivals

Whenever I work with an event team, and someone asks me what I do, their eyes glaze over when they recall their own experiences of having to deal with event traders. I have spent the last twelve years managing market and event traders, and for some reason it comes naturally to me. I have a real understanding of what is involved from a trader’s point of view, and I think this helps me both make decisions that they understand, and also deal with their dissatisfaction when they feel they are being short-changed.

Festival traders are accustomed to arriving at a semi-chaotic site, having to struggle to find the correct person to deal with, then having to verify that the selected trading spot is going to suit their arrangement, and then they have to find out what other traders are in the area and if the level of competition is sustainable or strangulating. And this is all on top of having paid a premium to be there. Unfortunately due to the proliferation of diplomacy-deficient Event Vendor Managers, festival traders are always semi-ready for a set-to in order to get what they want, because most of them will have found that that actually works, and they end up getting the spot they want, in the area that they want. However, this demonstrates appalling vendor management forward planning.

Vendors should arrive at a site that has a clear plan of who goes where, and due consideration should be given to distance between similar offerings, and not over-saturating the site. Vendors pay steep fees to participate, and unfortunately this can adversely affect the amount of traders allowed into an event because it is hard for the organisers to turn down an extra few grand, and it’s no skin off their nose if the trader doesn’t do well. The layout of traders should be viewed in terms of aesthetics, due regard for health and safety, and ensuring complementary stalls are located near one another. The event is a lot easier to manage if the stake holders are trading well, and this generates good word of mouth for future events, resulting in an increased amount of applications from which the best can be selected.
Traders are bound by strict regulations in terms of food safety, hygiene, and fire safety. Vendors must be registered with the HSE in order to be eligible for trade, and HAACP guidelines must be followed from start to finish. Environmental Health Officers are pleased when they see records being maintained, demonstrating confidence and competence. Hygiene practices must be policed by the vendor area managers. It’s all fine and well to have HAACP certs etc. but if someone sees a trader handling money and then handling food without having washed their hands or using gloves, serious damage can be caused to the whole event. Area managers need to watch out for good food handling practices, hair tied back, aprons, and a system for collecting money that doesn’t involve contaminating the food.

Getting vendors to participate in a new festival or event is a challenge. There are so many existing events to choose from that you may have to work with lesser known traders, keen to get a start, in order to get the event off the ground. As it establishes itself – presuming it was successful – it should be easier to recruit traders. The best way to find traders is to recruit an experienced vendor manager who should have a portfolio of traders from which to draw, or go market to market, and festival to festival, and woo the ones you want.

About the author:

Jackie Spillane started in the festival, market and event management world in 2003, following six years in the artisan food industry as a supplier. Jackie started the Peoples Park Market in 2003, followed by Marlay Park in 2004, both of which are still thriving. Jackie worked on the Festival of World Cultures for seven years, and curated the Festival of World Food for its two year run. Jackie works at Marlay Park each weekend at the markets, and works at various festivals and events throughout the year. Jackie specialises in coordinating traders for events.

What makes for a sustainable event?

Lessons from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

David Stubbs, Independent Sustainability Expert

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were an enormous success on numerous fronts and that is testimony to the hard work and excellence of so many people involved in the project.

Nearly three years on and I am still hugely proud that we honoured our ambitious sustainability commitments and succeeded in raising the bar and setting new standards in so many areas. This wasn’t something extra; it was an integral part of what we did and helped us deliver such great Games.

To understand what made the Games so noteworthy in terms of sustainability, this article takes an adapted extract from the final London 2012 Sustainability Report, published in December 2012.

Early on in our planning for the Games, we set out a definition of what we meant by a sustainable event. This identified eight key attributes, which I think are a good way of looking at how we performed.

  1. Provide an accessible and inclusive setting for all

The detailed planning in the early years to ensure we designed our venues and services to be as accessible as possible really bore fruit during the
Games, complemented by the highly successful Games Mobility service.Our food services provided sufficient options to cater for diverse dietary, ethnic, cultural and practical needs; we provided affordable options, access to free drinking water and we allowed people to bring their own food into venues.Above all, the warm welcome provided by our volunteer Games Makers from all walks of life helped to make everyone feel part of the Games.

  1. velodromeProvide a safe and secure atmosphere

Thankfully there were no major safety or security incidents during the Games.The screening of visitors into venues was efficient, friendly and even fun.This was due in large part to the marvellous professionalism of the armed forces and police and their positive engagement with the public.Behind the scenes, the work of the security and emergency services all contributed to the overwhelmingly relaxed and secure atmosphere at the Games.

  1. Have minimal negative impacts on the environment

The Games inevitably consume a large amount of resources, but through our planning, procurement and operational choices we have massively
avoided waste, we have made substantial carbon savings, sourced environmentally friendly products and taken care to protect the natural and cultural heritage found on our venues.From the natural planting of the Olympic Park to the detailed surveys and ecological management at Greenwich Park and Box Hill, and the partnerships we initiated, we made important contributions to biodiversity conservation.

  1. Encourage healthy living

The inspirational power of sport clearly shone through during the Games. Since then, clubs up and down the country have reported a surge in participation in so many different sports.For the Games we instigated the Active Travel Programme, which not only enabled spectators and workforce to cycle or walk to venues, but it formed a huge part of managing the background travel demand across London. We addressed air quality concerns by ensuring we had a low-emission vehicle fleet, maximising use of public transport modes and fitting particulate filters to several of our temporary power generators.Finally, let’s not forget the health and well being benefits of creating a large new parkland in east London, providing vital open space for recreation and enjoyment of the natural environment.

  1. Promote responsible sourcing

Staging the Games required a vast amount of goods and services, more than £1billion-worth in value, all of which had to be sourced sustainably.We put huge effort into our procurement programme, in which sustainability was an integral part of our definition of value for money.This gave us a diverse supplier base, of which 70 per cent of companies were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and represented all nations and regions of the UK.In 2011, we were certified to the globally recognised standard of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply for our effective processes, strategies, policies and procedures.

We always knew there would be challenges, particularly in the area of labour standards, which is why our ground-breaking Sustainable Sourcing Code introduced the innovative concept of a Complaints and Dispute Resolution Mechanism, something that other companies, such as adidas,have since started to emulate.

  1. Deliver excellent customer experience

When people feel valued they appreciate what you have done.All our client groups, from athletes to spectators, gave us excellent feedback on their Games experience.Their appreciation of the quality of service, of the venues and landscaping, of the transport and security services and the friendliness of the volunteer Games Makers made for an especially memorable occasion. Attention to detail had been a vital factor in achieving this, and sustainability was a key component.


  1. Encourage more sustainable behaviour

One thing that came through loud and clear from the Games was that people respected the quality of the venues.So many remarked on how clean and litter-free they were, and how easy it was for them to recycle their rubbish.Respect for place was also important, whether at the newly created Olympic Park, on the sensitive chalk grasslands of Box Hill (part of the Road Cycling route), or on the grassy cliffs overlooking Weymouth Bay (our Sailing venue). Through many of the Inspire projects, our Get Set education programme and the local initiative Changing Places, we engaged thousands of people in sustainability projects and activities which we hope will continue for a long time to come.

  1. Leave a positive legacy

Although ultimately legacy is a long-term perspective, we can already see numerous examples where our work is being carried forward: among our partners, BT and Coca-Cola have adopted and adapted our carbon footprint methodology to look at their business areas; the Food Legacy Pledge (managed by Sustain) is attracting widespread support; the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is taking forward many of the learnings from our zero waste Games vision; and we were instrumental in the development of the new international management system standard for sustainable events, ISO 20121, which is now firmly established across the global event industry.

We certainly didn’t always get it right, and along the way we learnt from our mistakes.But by being there from the beginning, asking searching questions and seeking better ways of doing things, we gave ourselves the opportunity to choose.

London 2012 was the result of all these choices. Every one that we and our suppliers and partners made had an impact on the success of the Games as well as on the environment, the community and our legacy.

Sustainability does not have an end point and I hope that what we learnt and reported will continue to provide future events and major projects with a solid foundation for improving their sustainability performance.

About the author:

DS 2 - 15 04 14David Stubbs is an internationally recognised leader in sustainability, environmental management and conservation biology.
Much of his career has centred on sustainability management of sport and major events. For nine years he led the award-winning sustainability programme of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, widely recognised as the most sustainable Games in modern Olympic history.
He now works as an independent sustainability expert advising organisations and major projects throughout the world. He served on the IOC’s Evaluation Commission for the 2020 Summer Games and is currently a member of the Evaluation Commission for the 2022 Winter Games.

Before London 2012, he spent 15 years working on environmental aspects of golf course development and management. His original training and research was in conservation biology and he is a founder member and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, as well as the 2013 recipient of the CIEEM Medal, the institute’s highest award. David is currently a Visiting Professor of Sustainability at the University of East London.


Event Safety: It all starts on the top!

_DSC3995Creating a safe event involves many factors and many competences. Often the safety is based on the risk of fights, theft, fire or the focus on treating the audience in case of injuries. This focus has been developed in cooperation with the authorities during many years. But in the recent years a new focus has arisen.

In the late 1980s a researcher within pedestrian movement, John J. Fruin, claimed that pedestrian movement was relevant for the safety at an event. He argued that when more than 500 people gathered there should be a person present with the focus of Crowd Safety Management. He defined Crowd Safety Management as; “thesystematic planning for, and supervision of, the orderly movement and assembly of people.”He explained that this involved assessment of the people handling capabilities of a space prior to use. The assessment should be based on the expected group behavior and the types of activities that could be expected.

This meant that someone had to work with the crowd and understand them. A crowd profile had to be made in order for the crowd safety manager to do his or her tasks properly. The focus now changed to the psychology of the crowd and the understanding of how different audience types gather and move.

Studying crowd’s psychology is not new. This started back in the 18th century, when Gustave Le Bon studied the crowd during the French revolution. Since then many theories has been developed, and they vary from believing that a person entering a crowd becomes violent, to arguing that a crowd develops its own norms. Some argue that the norm can vary from crowd to crowd or even within the same crowd. Some researchers believe that the way you treat the crowd will influence the way the crowd behave. Some even believe that if the norm of the event staff is too far from the norm of the audience it can create violent incidents that could have been avoided. John Drury, Otto Adang and Stephen Reicher are good examples of researchers who argues these.

Even though the above theories have been around for many years it has only been within the last 15 years that the understanding of crowd safety management has started within the event industry.

I believe that nowadays a Crowd Safety Manager must be a part of the top management team in order to create a safe event. I would even argue that an academic degree in Crowd Safety Management should be a minimum requirement within the safety advisory group.

Academic degrees cannot, and should not, stand alone. Experience is a vital factor for a Crowd Safety Manager. But without the theoretic knowledge it has become more and more difficult to plan an event that lives up to the standards of the modern expectations.

_DSC4478Fruin argued that the approach to Crowd Safety Management should be systematic, and as such systems and models should be implemented during the planning phase. As an example Dr. Keith Still has developed a model called DIM – ICE. This model is based on the argument that there are three elements that influence the safety:

  •         Design
  •         Information
  •         Management


Planning an event can be overwhelming. A major festival needs to be broken into parts in order to work properly with the risks and the safety. Still argues that any event can be broken into three parts:

  •       Ingress
  •       Circulation
  •       Egress


Dr. Keith Stills model works. It is a good tool, and this is only one of the many models that can be used in the systematic planning phase.

risk1But in order to supervise the implementation of the plans a well trained staff is needed. So now a day-licensed security guards, medical staff and fire prevention staff cannot be the only staff at the event. Staff must know, and understand, the psychology and the dynamics of the crowd. All staff must understand how they influence the norm of the crowd and how their behaviors affect the safety.

It all starts at the top. If the Head of Security, Health and Safety has a proper training within crowd safety management, he will ensure that his staff has the same. He will also understand the implications and liability to the promoter and himself if there is a lack of training and understanding of the crowd.

Creating networks and associations are imperative in order to share knowledge and experiences, and without these the opportunity to gain an academic degree in Crowd Safety management might never have been developed.

I welcome the recently founded Event Industry Association of Ireland and hope that this association is one more step in the right direction of creating safer events all around the world.

 About the author:



Morten Therkildsen is a crowd safety manager with a Bachelor of Honours in Crowd Safety Management from Bucks new university. Since 2006 he has been the CEO of ConCom Safety, but in 2013 he sold the company to Roskilde Festival. He is now the daily manager of ConCom Safety and Head of Security, Health and Safety at the festival. During the year ConCom Safety is a part of creating a safe and secure environment for the audience at more than 100 events. In 2014 CClogo_lime_safety_højtoplMorten Therkildsen was head of safety & security at The Eurovision song contest and head of audience safety at Malmø festival. Including these shows he was involved with the safety of more than 2.000.000 guest in 2014.



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New Options for Virtual Site Inspections and Virtual Travel
April 24, 2015

©2015 Greg Murtha, President/CEO, XplorIt

Virtual travel, once in the realm of science fiction, is now becoming a reality. Expanded bandwidth combined with new geocoded media technologies are resulting in the real life version of your kids gaming experience and creating a new genre of content marketing for hotels and venues.

An excellent example is XplorIt, a company seeking to replicate virtually the first-person travel experience.  Onsite visitors can see a fly over a city suchUntitled-1 as  Chicago Northwest to gain a sense of geospatial location. These new tools provide a richer, more fulfilling experience that helps bring destinations to life, creating a multimedia environment that provides content while replicating the feeling of first person virtual travel.

Large convention and meeting hotels seek to differentiate themselves through the quantity and quality of their meeting space, amenities and proximity to local attractions. Aside from the traditional site visit, the only way hoteliers had to convey there property’s offering to a meeting planner was with text, still photography, maps or a video. Now, planners can “fly” to various destinations such as the Renaissance Hotel Schaumburg and Meet Chicago Northwest to see the Improv Comedy ClubArlington Park Raceway and other attractions throughout the region. They can check out the lay of the land from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport or Downtown Chicago. These visitors can explore the destination and get a unique aerial perspective of the hotel.  Additional options include a map or street view and the ability to book a room or dinner reservation, submit an RFP for a meeting, buy tickets to a show or the racetrack or wine from a local vintner.

Advertising Age recognized XplorIt with the Media Vanguard Award, calling it “groundbreaking… so immersive that it feels like a gaming experience.”  The game-like platform allows a visitor to explore meeting space at the Los Angeles Convention Center or to walk through the Anaheim Hilton or an attraction like the Kennedy Space Center or Yosemite National Park. Throughout the interactive experience, the user can go where they want and see what they want to see. The platform uses cutting-edge technology and delivers it in a responsive design that is mobile friendly. It includes a Facebook Studio application to access at home, or on the phone while at a destination. Additional functionality includes closed captioning for the hearing impaired or language translation, mapping, social networking, ecommerce, PDF’s, live camera feeds, geospatial positioning is all delivered within one elegant content delivery system.

As these improvements in virtual travel and site inspections tools continue to advance, web visitors will see increasingly realistic, informative and immersive ways of exploring hotels and venues.

CorbinBall-2011-HR-1About the Author:

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a professional speaker and consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He can be contacted at his extensive web site: Corbin Ball Associates – Meetings Technology Headquarters and followed on Twitter: @corbinball:  (Note: the “Corbin Ball Associates – Meetings Technology Headquarters” should be hyperlinked to