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The Fyre Fest Debacle: Lessons for Marketers, Planners, and Leaders

Mention the Fyre Festival documentaries to a room full of meeting professionals and a collective shiver passes through the crowd. If you somehow missed the event planning equivalent of “Nightmare on Elm Street,” these documentaries (“Fyre” on Netflix and “Fyre Fraud” on Hulu) tell the tale of a high-end music festival in the Bahamas gone very, very wrong.

The entrepreneur behind Fyre, Billy McFarland—now a convicted fraudster—sold a vision of a luxurious music-filled event but the reality was an abject disaster. Attendees who paid thousands for a ticket landed on Great Exuma to find refugee-like housing, a shortage of food and water—and certainly no music.

The only silver lining of the Fyre debacle might be that the documentaries provided the public with a window into the deeply detailed work of event planning. There has also been insightful lessons drawn from Fyre for investors, corporate leaders, and event marketers. For planners, check out Tracey Goodfriend’s four lessons learned on the Advantage blog.

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