‘Going digital’ really does mean ‘going green’

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In darker days, if you sought them out keenly enough, one could find a festival director hunkered down in the corner of a large room, full of disheveled papers, crates of contracts, old line-up schedules, and scratched out artists’ riders.

These were the photocopier days, the P.O. box days, where highlighters and letter openers were treasured possessions and pens went missing more often than chicken fingers at an office potluck.

The business of organizing a major festival was once, and still is for some, a grueling exercise in filing – sorting vendor agreements from media information, reports from venue layouts, and making sure the thousands of other documents a festival must deal with have a place and purpose. All the while, directors are trying in vain to catalogue all of it in a way that when next year comes back around things will be easier and less convoluted.

For the Canadian based Celtic Colours International Festival, first held in 1997, this story couldn’t have been more familiar nine years into their annual event. Driven by the thought that there “must be a better way,” the management at Celtic Colours commissioned some local programmers to help them design a rudimentary system that would eliminate the confusion of their paper data and help them ‘go green.’

Marcato_GreenLogo2A few years later, the Celtic Colours office was transformed. Now instead of boxes filled with paper, staff were equipped with laptops and connected to a web-based management system that stored all their data and records neatly and coherently.

Using their newly gained insight into the inner workings of festival management, and encouraged by other festival directors who helped them capture the already proven and effective workflows of the industry, the software took on a life of its own. Marcato Digital was born and their soon-to-be branded “Marcato Festival” application grew quickly.

As the software evolved, more festivals around the globe started to join in with the revolution. Soon Marcato eliminated the need for any artists, vendors, or media to mail in their application to attend a festival, now they could simply apply online – paper-free.  In the same breath, the back and forth of contract negotiations became online mediations, where both parties could legally bind their agreements with a click of a button, rather than the swipe of pen.

Soon almost all festival management initiatives were thoughtfully incorporated into the system. Everything from allowing staff to collaboratively create complex shows & workshops online, to assigning and distributing credentials digitally at events in real time, was made possible.  No more photocopiers, no more fax machines, no binders being passed around from one member to the next – this was streamlined festival management.

What’s exciting is that Marcato Festival is not the only company sharing about how the digital revolution has come to the aid of festival organizers, and about how the movement as a whole has made some distinctly green progress over the years. As previously mentioned, digital can cut away vast amounts of paper and waste from the office; what’s more is websites can now provide clear and easily available information online, apps can help fans navigate line-ups and festival sites, and new technologies such as RFID and mobile ticketing can replace paper tickets and on-site payment systems with digital solutions.

festival2At the Green Events & Innovations Conference in London, March 2013, We Got Tickets and En-Count launched their Carbon Assessment of Ticket Delivery Systems which showed that “For every ticket order sold, WeGotTickets has 107 times less environmental impact in relation to Greenhouse Gas emissions than the equivalent concert ticket order from a traditional ticketing delivery system.” Elsewhere, companies like Intelligent Venue Solutions are helping lead the way in the deployment of RFID, NFC, mobile, and other contactless technologies to create significant additional value for event producers, their customers, artists, and brand partners – all the while removing paper from the supply chain. Then there are our friends at Intellitix, another leading global provider of RFID Access Control and Cashless Payment Systems for live events; with offices worldwide in Canada, the UK, Australia, USA, and Hungary, the company has activated over 5 million RFID tags at music festivals, sporting events, and many other live events, since 2011. Intellitix says their technology improves the consumer experience at live events, increases revenues, drives efficiencies, cuts queues to a minimum, eradicates ticket fraud, and more closely connects bands, promoters, and brands with their audience like never before.

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Another example of a digital service helping festivals ‘go green’ would be ticketing company EventBrite who provide  an online ticketing service that allows event organizers to plan, set up ticket sales and promote events and publish them across Facebook, Twitter and other social-networking tools directly from the site’s interface – as well as providing RFID and mobile technology.

In Marcato Festival’s case – and the same can be said for many of these other digital companies – what started as an initiative to simplify the high volume of data that a festival must manage during any given year became an opportunity to revolutionize the way festivals are planned and eliminate the needless and excessive waste of material resources.

The perpetuated myth that ‘going green’ will be too hard of a challenge for your company or organization could not be more effectively debunked than by the case study of Marcato Festival.  Although this is just one step in the many needed to host a greener event, starting with the management process does seem like a good first step in ensuring we all leave our festivals with a sense of accomplishment, and knowing that we’ve done our most to ensure our environmental efficiency.

To learn more about how Marcato can help you plan a greener festival and streamline your management initiatives, visit their website at www.marcatofestival.com.

This is a guest Blog by Ethan Fenton at Macarto

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