David Cohen of Tensator Group on keeping large crowds at summer events safe, orderly and happy
What do open-air concerts, fairs and festivals all have in common? They’re outdoor activities most often attended in the summer. More specifically, they’re notorious for drawing large crowds when school—and the summer sun—are out for good.
People attend large, crowded events to unwind, relax and enjoy themselves. And while it’s important for each individual person to be aware of his or her surroundings, it’s even more important for venues to prepare and create a safe environment for their patrons.
The first step to creating a safe summer experience is to prepare. How many people will be attending? At what time will people start attending? Will there be a pre-entry queue? Once these questions are answered, the next step is to get a bit more granular and start pointing out potential pitfalls as well as their solutions.
Problem #1: The entry line is long and people are getting frustrated
Checking the flow of your entrances and exits is one of the most important steps a venue can take. Is your venue set up so people can line up fairly easily or is there confusion and the chance to cheat the system?
It’s no secret that exclusive summer activities can be pricy. Keep in mind that nothing gets people more upset when they are paying top dollar than to be cut in front of in line or trampled by an unruly, inpatient, and disorganized crowd.
To combat this, consider implementing queue management. This can be as simple as using barriers or velvet post and rope stanchions, or as sophisticated as using an electronic queuing system in conjunction with an increased amount of staff on hand to help at congested entry and exit points.
Problem #2: It’s hot and people are losing energy
Venues hosting summer activities need to put a special focus on the health and well-being of their patrons. With the summer heat and active guests building up a sweat, it’s important to make sure that the venue has all the amenities to keep guests healthy and happy.
Try to include a comfort station at a centrally located area of the venue. This comfort station can include fresh water, food and a first-aid tent; it can even include in-queue merchandising for those last-minute needs. By having everything a person could need at a centrally located area, a venue can keep attendees happy, calm, collected and, most importantly—healthy.
Problem #3: The venue is big and the crowds are confused
More often than not, it's the especially big spaces that are tapped to accommodate summer crowds. With so much room, people are bound to become a bit disorganized.
This is when signage is of the upmost importance. Where are the bathrooms? Where is the first-aid tent? Where are the emergency exits? These questions—and more— can be easily answered with the use of clear and constant signage around the venue.
Be creative and have fun with this--use everything from traditional signage to stretch fabric panels to a digital "guide." This kind of next-generation, interactive digital signage looks and sounds like a real human, and can take on the persona of an animated character or even a celebrity to attract and retain attention. Even better they are always on, never tire, and make passing time fun and interesting while guests are waiting.
Overall, being outdoors can be a great way to spend a summer day. But, in order for their events to succeed, venues must put a primary focus on organization and the safety of their guests. The venues that go beyond to create a safe and inviting atmosphere will not only get ahead, but may end up being this season’s best.
David Cohen is head of business development at Tensator Group, which offers stanchion systems for queue management.