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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Interesting way to make money...?

In my day to day life, whether I'm working or not, I tend to think like a business person. Yesterday, I went to a folk festival - a giant 17 year old spectacular of world class folk musicians, dancing, vendors, and an incredibly eclectic crowd of probably 15,000 happy hippies (and weekend wanna be hippies). It is held in a big field of a farm - a smart farmer who has let his place be used for this event.

Tickets cost $35/pp for the day (different than if you camp for the whole weekend). When you arrive, you get into a line - buy a ticket - which they and to you and then direct you to the next line - where they take it away and put a sparkly, decidedly unhippy band on your wrist. In the 30 seconds I held the ticket, I saw it had their neat litle logo on it and that it was printed on fairly nice paper - and I thought "this would make a great souvenir" ... as they took it away from me.

Puzzled, we went on to the "troll bridge" where a volunteer folky waved us through. As soon as you arrive, you're faced with the Food Ticket booth. As the sign said, food vendors ONLY take the tickets - so you have to exchange your money for festival dollars. Wierd, I thought... but since I knew we'd eat, I bought about $50 worth (good organic folky vendor food and drink being costly as it is...). All day long, I puzzled over the admission tickets and the food tickets (which were also very nicely designed with the festival logo on it). I wondered aloud to Ron and to myself "why would they bother printing tickets, only to take them away?" "Why do they go through this whole food ticket operation?" I knew there had to be something to it.

And then at the end of the day, we spent less than we had in food tickets... a couple dollars... so I went to get a coffee for the ride home, and still had a dollar left. I could have gone back to the ticket booth and exchanged it for a dollar but I didn't. I wanted a souvenir of the event. I took the dollar home with me.

Then it hit me. Whether you want a souvenir or you are too lazy to get back in line for an exchange, if every single one of the attendees kept just ONE festival dollar, that is HUGE PROFIT for the organizers. Wow! We're talking, in a four day festival, probably $30-40,000 profit, at least.

Amazing. I wonder now if I'm just being a devious minded business person ... or if I finally figured out this whole game. And I'm also trying to think of similar ways that other businesses and industries can use a similar tactic. And I'm still asking myself if its really nice, fair, ethical... or if that simply is good business.

What do you think?
Did the sun cook my brain at that festival?
Can you think of a similar strategy that would apply to another industry?