he Cruïlla Barcelona Festival will open its gates once more on 12 July, as the event kicks off for the ninth time at the Parc del Fòrum site. As with any music festival, the line-up is one of the main draws – this year audiences can enjoy performances by artists such as Jack White, Prophets of Rage, NERD, Kygo, Justice, The Roots, David Byrne, and Bunbury – but there’s much more on offer. And that’s what this 100% Barcelona festival promotes as part of its DNA, offering its nearly 60,000 visitors an experience that transcends the line-up. As Gorka Niubó, head of institutional relations and sponsorship, explains, the festival is committed to provide an experience that encompasses the event as a whole, not just the performances on stage, but everything that takes place on the Cruïlla festival site. Certain basic aspects that are often ignored in most festivals are taken care of – toilets are clean and there are never any long queues “it’s important to us, because it ends up affecting people’s experience as they spend time at Cruïlla”, explains Niubó. But their approach goes much further than clean toilets with no queues.
In fact, their commitment to the entire experience comes from concepts that might seem far-removed from the world of festivals, such as ‘big data’ and ‘intelligent business’. But to explain how this is decided, we first need to talk about innovation. Innovation is what best defines the fact that it is the first music festival in Spain to go completely cashless – meaning there is no need to bring any money to the festival, either cash or cards, to make payments on site. Instead, Cruïlla provides festival-goers with a smart bracelet that can be topped up. Any money that isn’t spent during the festival will then be returned. This system provides added security and makes things more comfortable for festival-goers. Niubó also explains that, in addition, “it provides a lot of information on the people who come to and their preferences, while allowing us to interact with the public”.
One of the most valuable pieces of information the bracelets provide is segmenting the audience who attend Cruïlla – not only by age or customer profile, but also according to their relationship with the festival: “We can offer special promotions, for example, to people who have come for more than one year, or think of special offers for people celebrating their birthday during the festival…”, he explains. There are endless possibilities, not only in relation to visitors’ experiences, but in terms of offering brands the possibility of targeting their marketing. Last year for example, Codorniu offered a glass of cava and a slice of cake to older audience members, “with this not only creates a different experience for these attendees, but also allows the brand to be more selective in its marketing actions”.
Smart bracelets also allow us to access even more data, such as seeing the numbers of people who are coming and going. This makes it easier for organisers to make adjustments to avoid queues and crowds at the entrance, and as the head of institutional relations and sponsorship at Cruïlla explains, “all these details help us provide a good experience and ensure customer loyalty”. In fact, this is one of the festival’s secrets: The festival makes sure people come back, “and that is why we have to pay close attention to what they want, we are very good at retaining the audience”. This close relationship with the public has helped, for example, to decide on the line-up based on audience preferences and the Cruïlla Fan Club, through which the organisers have a permanent channel of communication with festival-goers.
By listening to festival attendees, organisers also understood that sustainability was one of their main concerns. That’s why Cruïlla is also a pioneering festival in terms of plastic cups – instead of the usual cups found at festivals, it only serves drinks in biodegradable cups, thanks to collaboration with Estrella Damm. And this isn’t the only way the festival is setting trends. Cruïlla also offers a café and bookshop area among its services. That’s right, a café and a bookshop! This is just as unusual for music festivals as Cruïlla’s entire area devoted to rest and well-being, its lifestyle zone, “where people can take a break, order a coffee, and browse the technology, fashion and trends on offer…” explains Niubó. Because it’s not all about the music: “Our aim is to offer a great experience as a whole, so we want to look beyond the line-up, although of course it is also carefully curated”. This model is what organisers call the “third way”, a hybrid between crowded events where the festival experience comes second to the music, and select events with limited audience numbers and a very specific musical offer: “We take care of everything here, and aim to create a truly full experience”, says the Cruïlla representative.