Experts believe that more visual experience and more surprises are needed at Hungarian festivals to keep up with the competition on international level. That was the view shared by the participants of the recent Festival Season Valuation Roundtable organized by HEINEKEN Hungária at the closing of the 2017 festival season. They also agreed that there is a need for continuous renewal in programs and gastronomy, including the festival's beverage supply.
Norbert Löbenwein, the main organizer of the Sziget, VOLT and Balaton Sound festivals was of the view that "although, festivals attract more and more people and are increasingly popular, we are aware that we cannot comfort ourselves, we have to renew our effort year after year. Today's festivals want a complete experience, so, nowadays festivals are not just about music. For example, the visual experience is a more and more decisive element of entertainment." He added that this latter experience can cost HUF tens of millions, but it is apparent from visitors' satisfaction that they can prove to be a return on investment.
"Sponsors of festivals are the organizers’ partners in innovation," added Ádám Mülhauser, head of HEINEKEN Hungária's Festival Sponsorship. "We have a common interest to provide a memorable experience for the festival-goers. The most iconic brands such as the ‘HEINEKEN Stage’ at Balaton Sound or the ‘Sopron Dome’ at the VOLT festival are great tools for this event, which are the highlights of the festivals and meeting points, also." He said that this year's festival season was the first occasion when a complex portfolio was offered at beer counters: "contrary to past years, festival participants demand more choice, so, it is not a question for us to appear there not only with our basic portfolio but also with our innovations at these events."
The latest product developments hits of this year were a hit: the 100% Hungarian-developed Soproni ‘Cautious Gambler’ IPA, the premium products of the Beers of Europe selection, especially the Belgian lambic beer, Mort Subite. Following the introductory success, the beer company set aside special supply of these innovations for festivals. In addition to the beers, the ciders were also a hit this year, especially the draft version, whose consumption has stabilized since 2015, and this year it has grown by two-digit figures.
Speaking at the event, CEO of HEINEKEN Hungária, José Matthijsse, said that the biggest success of the last festival season was that of the ‘Cautious Gambler’ IPA Sopron that was launched this year and that surpassed all expectations. "We have plans. We are convinced that with continuous innovation, we will continue to have memorable moments for Hungarians at festivals and all other stages of the year," she added.
Although, the festival season was successful, the experts agreed that the future cannot be imagined without renewal. As the audience's interest is changing changes – as is media consumption with the increased use of social channels –, the organizers and the programs must be renewed in the future because the high-quality concert experience guaranteed year after year is no longer sufficient to increase the number of visitors.
At the end of the conversation, the HEINEKEN Hungária's CEO has handed out the prizes to the winners of this year's ‘Festival Moments’ photo contest in both the professional and the amateur categories where a total of 186 amateur photographs and nearly one hundred press photographs had been submitted.