What Coachella Can Teach Us about Event Planning

Every year, over 75,000 people descend on the desert of Indio, California to bask in their love of music and art. This all-ages festival is in its 15th year and has grown leaps and bounds since it first broke onto the scene in 1999.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of the most famous and successful music festivals in North America and, according to Billboard Boxscore, grossed over $67 million in 2013. The festival consistently draws huge acts and this year, after only 20 minutes, general admission tickets sold out. Remaining tickets sold out in less than three hours – including VIP tickets, which can exceed $5,000 each.

This is an event that has tapped into what the people want and has resulted in tremendous success year after year. Looking at this sensation from our industry’s viewpoint, there are many aspects of Coachella that event planners can take note of along with many unique ideas that transcend, on a smaller scale, to corporate events.

Going Green

Younger generations seem to take global warming and environmental issues more seriously than their predecessors, but it still comes as a surprise that a music festival which can evoke images of gluttony, excessiveness and superficiality can be a place where sustainability and responsible initiatives reign supreme.

Since 2007, Coachella has worked with Global Inheritance to create the 10 For 1 recycling program, where any festivalgoer can trade in ten empty water bottles for a free one. This year, they are expanding the program to include VIP upgrades, refillable Coachella bottles, cold waters, Coachella tees, sunscreen and ferris wheel passes as possible rewards to further encourage recycling.

CARPOOLCHELLA was an initiative also introduced in 2007. Participants who carpool with four or more people per vehicle and display the word ‘CARPOOLCHELLA’ on that vehicle have the chance to win VIP tickets to Coachella for life, as well as a range of other prizes.

The Saving Nature Arcade is set up within the Coachella grounds and allows people to compete against other festival attendees on environmental arcade style games for a chance to win daily prizes including concert tickets and Coachella merchandise.

All festival signs are now made out of wood at a solar powered factory and the event showcases trash cans decorated by artists from all over the world to encourage responsible disposal of waste. There is an energy playground present on the festival grounds where a few bounces on a seesaw can charge your phone and a giant Recyclosaurus Rex is always ready to collect empty recyclables.

Coachella sets a great example on the sustainability and responsibility front. Events of all sizes can take note and replicate these initiatives. Event planners looking to attract Millennial attendees, those who were born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, must understand that these young demographics care about being “green” and sustainable.

Dealing with Demand

There is a fine line between increasing attendee numbers with financially responsible means and doing so while not covering costs. Coachella seems to understand this and through small changes each year, has managed to increase the size of the festival, while remaining profitable.

In 1999, Coachella started as a two-day festival, with no camping and the availability to buy single-day tickets. The festival became an annual event in 2001 and introduced camping as an optional add-on to tickets in 2003. Camping solved the problem of limited accommodation in close proximity to the festival grounds and allowed another revenue stream for event organizers.

By 2007, the festival was well established and it was time to add a third day to the program. In 2012, the biggest risk was taken by adding a second weekend – it paid off.

These incremental changes show how Coachella event organizers are willing to grow the festival but also how they took steps to minimize the risk of over expansion. At any event, risks need to be taken to grow and improve but they should be backed by research and trials.

Appealing to the Masses

One of the keys to the success of Coachella lies in its ability to appeal to a range of demographics – from people of all ages, income levels and music preferences to people of all cultures and nationalities.

Coachella showcases many established musicians as well as up-and-coming artist or reunited bands and includes rock, hip hop, indie, electric dance music and many other genres.  The art installations and sculptures draw even more people out to the desert. Poetic Kinetics, Phillip K Smith, James Peterson and Kevin McHugh are just a few of the talented artists displaying their incredible work at the 2014 festival.

Corporate event attendees, like Coachella patrons, are extremely diverse in demographic backgrounds and preferences. As a result, engaging everyone can be tricky. Going the extra mile to appeal to as many attendees as possible without sacrificing quality is essential.

Keeping it Classy

As ticket prices have risen, event organizers have made sure to increase the perceived value associated with these highly prized tickets. Each year, the mailing piece, with tickets enclosed, becomes more elaborate with attendees checking their mailboxes on daily basis leading up to the festival. In 2014, a full color box with an image of Coachella Valley on the outside and with a lenticular lens, stop action, multiple frame, two second video of Helix Poeticus, the famous Coachella snail from 2013, on the inside of the lid, are featured on the mailer box. It also includes a radio frequency wristband that allows entrance to the festival, a Coachella themed calendar/ postcard, a Coachella sticker, 36-page welcome guide and a crafty Helix Poeticus dye cut diorama snail.

These are all small additions on the part of the organizers but give attendees the feeling of a higher valued package. Event planners can follow suit and provide high quality and innovative gifts or collateral on-site to complement the day, leading up to the event to elicit excitement and even post-program as a reminder of the great experience the attendees had.

Key Takeaways

The key lessons Coachella can teach an event planner are as follows:

  •  Sustainability should be at the forefront of all events. This is especially true when an environmentally conscious company or young group of attendees is involved.
  • Risks should be taken to improve the effectiveness of events but only when backed by research and thorough logic.
  • Events should appeal to a broad audience including a wide range of demographic profiles.
  • Attendees should be rewarded with increased perceived value in some manner if event prices rise. This will be achieved through gifts, food, entertainment or venue.

Coachella is one of the most successful events in North America because the event organizers understand these aspects. Anyone involved in the event planning or meeting planning industry should take note and follow in the footsteps of these innovative organizers. JNR plans all of our events with trends in mind and we are happy to give you ideas if you send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

Read about “The 5 Biggest Megatrends in Meetings and Events” for 2014 here.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.


Green Meetings: Why, How and Where to Hold Them

Business meetings can vary greatly in size, setting and tone, but the purpose of any successful meeting is to improve the company in some way. A meeting can be arranged to achieve objectives such as increasing sales, optimizing productivity, awarding top achievers, inspiring new ideas or producing a safer work environment.

A green meeting in particular is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “one that is organized and implemented in such a way as to minimize negative impacts on the environment and promote a positive social legacy for the host community.” The EPA recently deemed the meetings and events industry as the second most-wasteful sector in the U.S. due to the far-reaching environmental footprint left behind by air travel, audiovisual equipment, food waste and other elements.

As a result of this alarming news, many key players in the industry have addressed the problem directly and joined the movement to promote environmental sustainability. Some venues have received LEED and other green-building certifications while recycling, composting, green roofs and other eco-measures are becoming much more common. Several organizations including the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) released the ASTM/APEX standards for sustainable meetings further raising the bar on preserving environmental integrity.

At JNR Incorporated we have joined the movement to be socially responsible in our meetings in an effort to protect our planet for future generations. Ways in which we are achieving this include: utilizing local suppliers for gifts, hosting meetings at green-building certified locations, prioritizing email communication over paper collateral and using mobile ticketing, among other things. On-site, we are known to hire local services to repackage left-over food for donation, provide logo’d water bottles with fill stations to participants instead of wasteful plastic disposable water bottles and other sustainable approaches to our meeting coordination efforts. Our home building, Newport Gateway, is even LEED certified and boasts energy efficient HVAC and lighting along with practicing green cleaning and indoor air quality management. Efforts to continuously decrease our environmental footprint are ongoing.

One rather fascinating piece by GreenBiz Group editor Nikki Gloudeman listed the “Top 10 U.S. Cities for Green Meetings in 2014” and the results included a few surprises.

10. Cleveland – Two new neighboring meetings venues, The Cleveland Convention Center and Global Center for Health Innovation, were built around the principle of sustainability.

9. Washington D.C. – The Washington Marriott Marquis will open next month as the largest hotel in the city and is expected to be one of the largest properties in the nation with LEED Silver Certification.

8. Philadelphia – The Pennsylvania Convention Center earned a LEED Gold certification for its 2011 expansion and uses a host of products made from 100 percent decompostable [sic] and biodegradable products.

7. New York City – The Javits Center which is Manhattan’s main convention complex has added a seven-acre green roof to change the heat-island effect, reduce ambient temperature of the air and improve insulation while controlling storm water runoff.

6. Nashville – The brand new Music City Center convention center has 845 solar panels, four-acre green roof with a waterproofing membrane and 14 types of vegetation and roughly half of the material used in the building was sourced within 500 miles of the site.

5. Portland – The Oregon Convention Center was the first to earn LEED certification way back in 2004 and will be renovating in an attempt to upgrade its LEED status from Silver to Gold.

4. Orlando- The Orange County Convention Center is the second-largest venue with ASTM/APEX certification thanks to LED lighting and HVAC systems, Green Seal-certified cleaning products, irrigation systems that use reclaimed water and a solar PV system.

3. Chicago – McCormick Place is the largest convention center to earn ASTM certification and has reduced energy consumption by 1.6 million kWh and increased annual waste diversion rate by 10 percent recently to maintain this status.

2. Las Vegas – A city mainly known for excess has changed as far as meetings are concerned by becoming the first and only city in the world to garner next-tier Level Two ASTM/APEX certification for the LEED Gold Sands and Venetian and LEED Silver Palazzo.

1. Denver – Probably the least surprising city on the list due to its status as a pioneer in this area, Denver became the first city to earn APEX/ASTM certification in four separate sectors: destination, meeting venue, audiovisual and food and beverage (F&B).

For more information on how to hold sustainable events, please send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com or click here for ten easy tips from the GMIC. You can also read our blog from November of 2013 pinpointing sustainability as one of the five biggest megatrends in meetings and events.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Spanish Spotlight: The Top Ten Cities to Visit

Our March expedition through Spain began with a fabulous Catalan Stuffed Peppers recipe to give you a taste of the traditional cuisine. Then we offered a peek into the Las Fallas Festival to give you some perspective on their customs. Now we want to give you an overview of the top ten cities to visit in Spain according to TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice. While the cities that top the list may seem obvious, we hope that you will come across a few lesser-known locales that may have never crossed your mind before!

10. Benidorm, Spain

Location: Western Mediterranean seaside city located in the Province of Alicante on the Costa Blanca.

Claims to Fame: Benidorm boasts four miles of golden beaches, access to Mediterranean Sea recreation including scuba diving and waterskiing and a historic city center with blue-domed 18th-century churches and alleyways.

Top Attractions: Levante Beach, Balcon del Mediterraneo, Placa del Castell

9. Salamanca, Spain

Location: Northwestern capital city of the Province of Salamanca located alongside the border with Portugal.

Claims to Fame: Salamanca is referred to as Spain’s “golden city” and is rich in architectural, religious and gastronomic culture. Renaissance and Gothic style architecture are prominent in both the old and new cathedrals.

Top Attractions: Salmanca’s Plaza Mayor, St. Stephen’s Convent (St. Convento de San Esteban), Casa Lis (Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco)

8. Marbella, Spain

Location: Southern coastal city in the Province of Malaga on the Mediterranean Sea.

Claims to Fame: Marbella is a sunny beach town with plenty of modern-day resort amenities. The city is famous for La Fontanilla Beach, theme parks, wildlife parks and a historic quarter filled with whitewashed buildings and remnants of a ninth-century Arab fortress.

Top Attractions: Marbella Old Quarter, Iglesia Mayor de la Encarnacion, Puerto Banus Marina

7. Malaga, Spain

Location: The capital of the Province of Malaga lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean Sea.

Claims to Fame: Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the entire world, founded in the 8th Century by the Phoenicians. The city is rich in art of all kinds including glass, crystal, contemporary installations and the works of Picasso, who was born in Malaga.

Top Attractions: Museum of Glass and Crystal, Alcazaba, Kelipe Centro de Arte Flamenco

6. Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Location: The capital city of the Province of Balearic Islands is situated on the south coast of the island on the Bay of Palma.

Claims to Fame: Palma de Mallorca is often considered the economic and cultural hub of Majorca and a great place to experience the island’s many gold and white beaches. This city was once a Moorish casbah, or walled city, and has a maze of narrow streets that can be quite fun to explore on foot.

Top Attractions: Soller Railway, Cathedral (Le Seu), Bellver Castle (Castell de Bellver)

5. Valencia, Spain

Location: The capital city of the Province of Valencia is located on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula facing the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea.

Claims to Fame: Valencia is home to many monuments, City of Arts and Sciences, a highly modern complex of museums, cinemas and theaters. The local food, namely the paella, is also something that every visitor should experience!

Top Attractions: Bioparc Valencia, Oceanografic, Palacia del Marques de Dos Aguas

4. Granada, Spain

Location: Capital of the Province of Granada located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and at the confluence of four major rivers. The Southern Spanish city is just one hour from the Mediterranean Coast by car.

Claims to Fame: The Alhambra citadel, a Moorish fortress with epic archways and ornamental mosaics, one of the most famous buildings in the nation is located in Granada. The nightlife is also quite vibrant with the bars of Calle Elvira being the most notable hotspot.

Top Attractions: The Alhambra, Carrerra del Darro, Generalife

3. Seville, Spain

Location: The capital and largest city in Province of Seville, located on the plain of the River Guadalquivir.

Claims to Fame: Seville was founded as a Roman City and is the home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Alcazar palace complex, Cathedral where Christopher Columbus was buried and Metropol Parasol are just a few of the amazing sites that ooze with antique charm.

Top Attractions: Alcazar, Plaza de Espana, Giralda Tower

2. Madrid, Spain

Location: Spain’s capital and largest city is located on the Manzanares river in the center of both the country and Community of Madrid.

Claims to Fame: Many of Madrid’s buildings are so grand that they appear to be castles straight out of classic fairytales. The architecture here is quite impressive and the splendid sites like Retiro Park and numerous museums make it one of the most interesting places to visit in Spain.

Top Attractions: Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza), Royal Palace of Madrid

1. Barcelona, Spain

Location: This capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia within the Province of Barcelona is located on the eastern coast at the mouths of the Llobregat and Besos rivers to the west near the Serra de Collserola mountain range.

Claims to Fame: Famous residents included Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali and Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who designed several of the city’s architectural amazing buildings. Park Guell, street performers and numerous tapas bars make Barcelona a great place to spend a leisurely day.

Top Attractions: Guell Palace, St. Mary of the Sea Cathedral (Iglesia de Santa Maria del Mar), Camp Nou

Are you overwhelmed with all that Spain has to offer yet? I know that my “bucket list” grew quite a bit after composing this blog.

If you’re looking to book an incentive travel trip or meeting in Spain, or simply need some advice about what to see and do while in Spain, please send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin


Details! Details! Details!

As I walked through the front doors and introduced myself as the new intern my heart was beating and my palms were sweaty.   JNR was my first internship in my college career.  Little did I know that it would become my first job as well.  I started as an intern for the Marketing Department, which was not what I was going to school for.  However, I had researched the company online and I knew whether it was in Marketing or answering phone calls, I wanted to be a part of it.  With the goal of learning more about event planning, meeting management and incentive programs, I took the plunge.

In college, I was a member of several organizations that aimed to prepare us for the inevitable transition into our careers.  They taught me to act properly, be attentive, take initiative and dress professionally. Fast forward to my first day at JNR—it was very nerve-racking because I had this list going through my head and I didn’t want to disappoint.  I wanted to learn.

Boy did I learn!  I got a crash course about JNR and what we as a company strive for.   I learned that details are always important.  One of my favorite tasks that I did during my internship was proofreading copy for each program’s travel documents.  It was like doing a word search puzzle where I was looking for all of the errors.  Not every task they assigned me was as exciting, for example, providing quality control on every single room gift for every program.  But even in those tasks, I found a way to challenge myself as I attend to the smallest details.   For instance, was there a scratch on the Tiffany & Company® box that someone would receive as a recognition award, or was there a tiny blemish on the leather travel wallet that was going to be sent to the travel program winners?  It was in the fine-tuning of these details that I learned how seriously JNR represents quality, no matter what the project.

When my internship concluded, I had impressed my colleagues enough to receive a full time position in the Operations Department, which is where I had hoped my career path would take me.  Now, I apply what I learned about detail management to every aspect of my work in meeting and event planning and in corporate rewards programs.   I quickly learned to leverage the experience gained in college and combine it with the skills I learned as a nervous intern as I grew my career at JNR.  I have come a long way since that first day and even though I am now responsible for my own programs, I never, ever forget that the secret to success is always in the details.

Amy Junne

Account Manager with JNR Incorporated