Fyre Festival, Celebrity Booking App and other disasters

Event Planning Disaster - PartyMaker App


Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened – new original Netflix documentary on the most infamous “festival” of the decade which is a must see for anyone involved in the events business and to a less degree tech startups.


Expectations: Beautiful Island on the Bahamas, Top Models and Influencers, Luxury Villas, Yachts, Epic Artists Line Up, Epic foods and drinks.

Reality: Beautiful Island on the Bahamas, Frustrated=>Angry Crowd, Soaking wet hurricane tents, Epic Cheese Sandwiches.


The big and ambitious vision which ended up in 6-year imprisonment for the founder, millions of dollars debts and probably the toughest PES (Post Event Syndrome) in the careers of the people involved in the organisation.


However, our goal is not to gloat but as passionate event profs and event tech startup to do a proper debrief of this ambitious experiential marketing campaign for the Fyre Celebrity Booking App.


Disclaimer: The below text is based on the author’s assumptions and the open source data available on the web and not on official reports.


  1. Fyre Festival Objectives and KPI’s


Fyre App supposed to be a mobile app through which anyone could book celebrities directly to avoid paying fees for countless agents and agents of agents 🙂  One of the founders Ja Rule finished this idea as a similar service – ICONN




  • To highlight the exclusivity and the luxury experience of using the app
  • To secure a festival line up of celebrities which could be booked through the platform
  • To create and sell various luxury experiences and high-end packages for the guests
  • To drive sales through a massive influencer marketing campaign



  • Sold out tickets
  • Strong Brand awareness through social media mentions
  • Pre Booking on the Fyre Platform as a result of the Festival


Note to start-ups:

Fyre social media campaign is a perfect example of what impact a good promo video and the experiential event could have on the launch of your product. In this case, they had an almost unlimited budget (not wisely spent though).

However, the principal is the same:

  1. Create an experience which embodies your startup
  2. Build up the hype through relevant influencers (again they shouldn’t have millions of followers, but they should be pertinent to your target audience) invest in a quality promo to show the feeling of what people get from your product
  3. Invite the opinion leaders and influencers from your industry to the event. Fyre organisers invited mainly mainstream Insta influencers (250 of them). The question is, though, why they didn’t encourage any decision makers who would be using their app to book celebrities for other festivals and events?


  1. Challenges with the Greatest Party That Never Happened


  1. Founder’s Billy McFarland reality distortion field which massively surpassed even Steve Job’s one.

Billy put together an experienced team of event planners but ignored their warnings and advice entirely.


  1. A very short lead-up time


Six months before the event – the festival idea is born

Five months before the event – public announcement

Two months – the proper planning and set-up started

(Source: Mashable UK).


On average you need 12 months to plan a first-time festival especially in a place with no infrastructure.


Note to everyone: The suppliers you work with should give you realistic timelines.


  1. No infrastructure

An open-air festival is one of the most challenging events from the infrastructure perspective. Both event sites (they had to change the first island) were just bare pieces of land with no electricity, water supply, roads …should we continue?


  1. Catering supplier cancels 28 days before the event for not being paid which led to the appearance of the Luxury Cheese Sandwich pic which blew up Twitter.


Note for event planners: Negotiate clear T&Cs and cancellation policy when signing the contract.


  1. Key Lessons Learned from the Netflix Documentary


  1. Reality distortion field should be managed through project planning and key milestones updates


  1. Don’t start planning any event apart from a Sunday Brunch only two months in advance


  1. Proper site visits with a thorough risk assessment and capacity evaluation are a must


  1. Build up a cash flow plan as well as negotiate payment terms in advance


  1. Don’t do shady, scammy crap 🙂


  1. Always take one for the team

(Source: Twitter)


So Dream Big but dig deep into the details and please, please, please – be transparent. It’s 2019 and days of unethical event planners with outrageous markups, hidden fees and poor delivery are long gone. Respect the craft, the industry and, most of all, your audience and it will reward you multiple times and keep your reputation afloat.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *