Floris Brandwacht (Apenkooi Events) about the future of the festival industry

Brandwacht (31) started his career as a marketer at Mediacom, then Accenture and since October last year he has worked as a marketing manager for Apenkooi Events, known for dance festivals such as Pleinvrees, Amsterdam Open Air, Strafwerk and By the Creek. Brandwacht is responsible for the marketing activities of Pleinvrees in particular. “Seldom had such a turbulent start to a job. First ‘just’ selling the Amsterdam Dance Event in my first few weeks, then running 8 shows and now the overwhelming effect of the corona crisis. An interesting introduction to the event industry, to say the least“Said Brandwacht.

What do you think about big events only being allowed again when there is a vaccine against corona?

As far as I am concerned, health is paramount, but of course it is not a nice decision. At every press conference I listen carefully to what Mark Rutte has to say. Last week, when the timetable with exit strategies was presented, I was still somewhat hopeful. Terraces open again, events again possible for small groups and that is then slowly scaled up. But a day after that story, I received a push notification from the NOS with a much lesser prospect for our sector. It can take years before a vaccine is actually tested and meets the requirements. So it is a bit of a swallow, although I am somehow confident that we as an industry can come up with something about this.

What does this decision mean for the cooperation between events and large sponsors?

Indeed, our partners also suffer from this. Sponsor budgets are frozen, activations postponed, basically everyone goes into wait-and-see mode. At Apenkooi, together with our brand activation agency Playground, we keep each other informed of initiatives where there are opportunities for brands to be present, to reach people and to bring a little bit of positivity into the world.

What are the consequences for our largest export product: the DJ?

Top DJs that normally operate internationally are now more dependent on gigs in our little frog country. On the other hand, now is the time for local talent to show what they can do. At Pleinvrees we see that ourselves: despite the current situation, we are busy with the near future so that we can go straight again soon – and with a broader view of local talent. Maybe that one Dutch DJ who would normally have an opening slot is now suddenly the headliner. In short, a difficult time for artists, but also a great opportunity to kickstart their career.

How are things going with Apenkooi Events?

It is not the first time that we have had to cancel an event. Last June, Pleinvrees Festival had to be canceled due to a heavy storm that raged over Amsterdam. The impact is enormous. Not only financially, but also on the relationship with our visitors. For our target group, the festival in question is the only physical contact moment with our brand. Fortunately we were then and we are now insured for these kinds of dramas, but of course the insurance does not cover everything. For a partner we have to pay, this crisis can be a matter of surviving or going bankrupt. Government support is therefore important, but also a positive critical look at that timetable for events.

How do you see the future of the event industry?

The ‘pop urge’ among festival fans will now have risen to a boiling point and so those first events can soon be an unprecedented success. But there will also be people who are very aware of the risks and stay inside. Maybe they will only go to their favorite festival and leave the rest. We must now figure out what can, may and work – that will undoubtedly take some getting used to.

Also read: Event industry about corona: ‘Festival that offers connection remains intact’

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