XLIVE Interview Series – Aivar Laan, Founder and CEO of Festivality
This week on the XLIVE Interview Series, we sat down with Aivar Laan, Founder and CEO of Festivality. Festivality provides a technology platform and full-service support to bring live events to mobile. We asked Aivar a number of questions from the opportunity he saw when founding Festivality, we spoke about the importance of capturing data for event organizers and Festivality’s upcoming data and analytics, self-service, and cashless payment platforms, and what brings them to XLIVE 2018 in Las Vegas. Read the interview below!
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us, Aivar. For those who don’t already know, can you give us a brief overview of Festivality, the organization’s mission statement, and the opportunity you saw and inspiration you had when founding Festivality?
The industry which used to be quite conservative in adopting technology and software solutions, is going through a major digitalization, fans smartphones penetration and new habits being the driving force. Already 3B+ smartphones globally in use in 2018 changes eventgoers / fans expectations at live events at scale, for which event organizers need to cater to. Our technology company has set out on that journey, aiming at a smarter, data-driven future in the live events space.
In a nutshell – Festivality is a platform technology for festivals and events to adopt smarter next-generation mobile event apps, gain new revenues and actionable event and fan analytics. Festivality helps to digitize live events and turn them into actionable data.
Festivality powers the entire mobile experience for live events. The software focuses on offering a feature rich mobile app (on Android and iOS) with an emphasis on affordability, quickness to build and launch, and ease of use for attendees. Core features include:
- Easy plug-and-play backend for event organizers to interact with, customize and define the white-label app they want to build for their event type, be it a music or a film festival or a sports event
- Analytics dashboard for event organizers to track attendee behaviour, preferences and characteristics providing a better understanding of attendees´ engagement and profiles
- Mobile commerce and payment tools allowing attendees to handle all transactions with organizers, merchants and partners of the event within the mobile event app
Events in the past considered the mobile experience an expenditure, Festivality’s software transforms that into a better user experience for eventgoers with added revenue generation streams for organizers.
The mobile app space is very competitive. What are your areas of focus and how do you differentiate yourself as a mobile app provider?
Festivality is focused on helping the consumer events space (festivals, sports, live events etc), which is still underserved with smart technologies, and also provides more commercial opportunities. There are 100+ mobile technology service providers globally for B2B and corporate events, which is a mature and competitive space.
Festivality differs in that the event apps built on our platform capture more smart data and are dynamic data-centric products.
Secondly, our platform has mobile commerce tools built-in to increase B2C and B2B revenues for events and to gain good ROI from using mobile apps. We facilitate transactions with fans via native mobile payments which is a standard feature in our apps. Festivality platform also enables fast and secure one-tap payments for extra convenience for app users.
Third, what comes to data analytics, as many live event groups use our mobile event apps year-round and as multi-event or multi-festival products, we have comprehensive wider window into fan data and more data points. We are also using machine learning, AI tools and data science to make better sense of the captured data.
How did you personally end up in live event industry? Did you have a background in events or do you come from a technical background?
I guess I’m a live events industry veteran already 😉 Over 25+ years I’ve been personally involved in production and promotion of 2000+ events in a wide range, from corporate events to music and film festivals in Europe.
My co-founder and CTO has fully technical background from mainly London and Silicon Valley based data focused businesses.
We started to build the technology platform initially for our own events and festivals to make better sense of fan data and the analytics opportunities around it. At some point we saw a larger and growing demand from our peers and decided to focus on the data-driven technology vision for the event industry.
Can you give us a couple specific examples or brief case studies of how Festivality has helped an event? From driving revenue, enhancing attendee experience, collecting and leveraging event and attendee data, etc.
Festivality´s app monetization platform powered a leading European music showcase festival to increase their B2B revenues 10x from specific business customers and partners segments over a 3 year period.
Motorsports event app built on Festivality platform enabled to unlock new contextual B2C revenues via in-app purchases and native mobile payments at European Championship level rally event.
One month long educational Asian conference run all attendee communications with the help of Festivality event app via pre-scheduled + geo-fenced push messaging, having more than 80% active app adoption, keeping attendees engaged, informed and collecting valuable actionable insights from data on event contents, feedback, preferences.
World Championship level event with 250 000+ visitors incoming to a region, has substantial additional affiliate sales revenues from official booking widgets in their event app that attendees can use for more convenient and fast accommodation booking.
Festivality product platform powers above opportunities and the whole mobile experience of events. Product platform in snapshot:
- For event organizers and promoters: an industry-specific automated mobile apps builder with an efficient event data management system + event datalytics & mCommerce toolbox. Powers events to launch smart, custom-branded white-label, data-driven event apps, helping event teams to make more informed decisions from real-time and historic event and attendee data analytics. We also open access to new and additional revenue streams via mobile devices.
- For fans & attendees: Intelligent, feature-rich event app (iOS, Android), helping eventgoers get more value out of events and better user experiences via mobile. Along with an ability to buy and pay at event contexts conveniently with their smartphones (cashless events).
- Monetization platform to facilitate commerce for events´ organizers and their partners ecosystem with commercial interests: sponsors, vendors, merchants, exhibitors, artists.
There are three new exciting Festivality products and services which we’d like to discuss briefly with you. First, we’ve heard there is an upcoming ‘self-service’ product launch for smaller events. Without giving away any sensitive information, what can you tell us about this, and why did you decide to launch a self-service platform for event producers?
The benefits of mobile event apps might be proven by now in many verticals, but the smarter versions still require a substantial investment and time and effort to come to fruition from scratch. As a result, it is not yet standard for all consumer event teams to build and monetize mobile apps to support their events, like it is already done at more than 60% of professional events in mature markets.
Festivality is changing that by making smarter mobile apps easy and accessible for all events, also for smaller and mid-sized events. We are launching a self-serve platform to build smart event apps fast and affordably for all major event types, be it a music or film festival, sports event or conference.
Self-serve platform also comes with one-tap native mobile payments integrated into event apps to facilitate mobile commerce for the promoters, their sponsors, partners, artists etc.
Multiple other monetization tools enable event teams to turn going mobile from a cost line in the event budget into a revenue centre.
Comprehensive analytics dashboard enables to capture insights and value via mobile event apps data for real time decision-making and optimizing of the events.
Second, there is an upcoming data and analytics platform, putting your fan and attendee data to work so event producers can make better decisions for their future events. How will this platform work and how will this help event producers?
A common problem in the live events industry has emerged from our customer conversations – there are tons of promoters and events out there who are sitting on top of valuable fan and ticketing data they have captured over the years, which they do not use effectively at all.
FanSifter is a full-stack fan data analytics and marketing solution for promoters to improve audience insights, drive sales and achieve higher conversion rates. It enables events to launch smarter campaigns directly from the platform, using real-time, behavioral, historical and demographic insights while the robust algorithms optimize segmentation and targeting.
Sample use case – event needs to sell more tickets. Our analytics software enables better segmentation of your fanbase and the marketing tool streamlines more personalized communication to these audiences.
Also sponsors and brands at live events and for instance managements of the artists performing at music festivals need to make a better sense of the audiences and have extra opportunities to communicate with them.
Lastly, Festivality is working to create a cashless payment platform for event organizers and their attendees. What can you tell us about this platform, and how will this fit with the rest of the Festivality products, and why should events go cashless?
Cashless commerce at events and festivals is by now a proven method of increasing fans convenience as well as event promoter´s and merchants´ revenues while also capturing valuable fan/sales data. For many events, cashless systems of today still have prohibitive cost related to set up, services and infrastructure needs around it.
Festivality has a new technology solution in development, that will make cashless systems accessible for wider range of events.
We already have native mobile payments in all of our event and festival apps, which is not a standard solution in the industry.
Events have access to fans smart devices with our mobile technology platform, and cashless system will be added layer and value on top of our platform solution.
What’s the best part of your job, what brings you the most joy, and what keeps you up at night?
I´ve always been a change agent and on a mission to inspire positive changes in thinking among my peers. Innovation in the event industry is close to my heart and I see multiple ways to innovate in the digitizing events space with data, smart devices and technology.
You guys are European based and have seen lots of success in the European market. What brings you to United States, and specifically XLIVE this year?
Festivality´s roster of customers includes top European live event groups, from music to city festivals, live tours, major sports and tech events. From 1000+ attendee conferences to 250 000+ eventgoers World Championships level sports events.
We are confident we can deliver value with the team´s expertise and our technologies also for North American events, and XLIVE is an awesome experience to meet a lot of new and old friends.
From our customer conversations we see that events´ needs are quite homogeneous across globe, similar topics are on the table for promoters and producers of live events irrespective to their domicile.
Can you give us a bold prediction for the live event industry in the next 1 year? 5 years?
Technology and data are game-changers and helping all players in the industry. Adoption of smart data-driven technologies means empowering fans with better user experiences and helping event-goers get more out of live events. For organizers and promoters this enables to deliver better, smarter events and both to provide and capture more value with data-driven approaches.
Wise words of Jack Ma from eCommerce behemoth Alibaba fit in perfectly: “The world is going to be data. We are just at the beginning of the data period.”