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How to Determine if a Festival is Group Friendly

With the right festival, your group can enjoy a perfect afternoon wandering around a charming downtown with entertainment, wonderful aromas, shopping finds and abundant local fair around every corner. Choose the wrong event and your group will feel the afternoon wasted on an event only appealing to local families.

Use these four tips to determine if a festival can accommodate and enthrall your group.

1. Ask for group-exclusive opportunities.

Large-scale events can prove intimidating for your group, especially if the organizers haven’t optimized the event for group experiences. So instead of letting your group lose themselves in a sea of other attendees, work with CVB to find group-exclusive opportunities and amenities. This can range from reserved grandstand seating for groups to full-scale private functions with catering, music, entertainment and VIP access to elements of the festival not open to the public. Some festivals even allow groups to march in their parades.

2. Attend a FAM.

One of the best ways to determine if your group will appreciate the festival is to see the event for yourself. Once you decide your group will enjoy the event, you’ll have a much easier time selling the event with firsthand experience to draw from. Plus, you can try any new group activities the festival offers yourself before testing them out on your group.

3. Pay attention.

Look for CVBs touting their festivals specifically to the group market. Whether at a one-on-one trade-show appointment or in a blast email, the destinations that go after group markets often understand a group’s specific needs more than a festival only marketing to locals. Follow magazines or websites with press releases pertaining to group travel. Or if you hear about a festival and want to check if it is group-friendly, see if the destination has a group section or not. You can also discuss any concerns with parking, accommodations and dining with the local CVB to see if they can host your group easily during the event.

4. Take advantage of association memberships.

If you are a member of tourism associations such as the American Bus Association (ABA) or the Southeast Tourism Society (STS), you may be able to browse through a number of group-friendly festivals. Both ABA and STS publish highly respected lists of top festivals and events that regularly welcome groups.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.