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What went wrong at Café Fest Singapore

It could have been an amazing weekend for the cafe lovers in Singapore, having to rejoice over the much-anticipated Cafe Fest Singapore that was conceptualized a few months back. The festival first came into light after the booming culture of cafe-hopping in Singapore. The festival boasted 12 cafes to be in a single location – which is (or, should be) the key selling point of the festival. It gives the easy access to venture and try out specialties of 12 different cafes all in the same location. The venue – Waterfront Promenade at Marina Bay, also gives a beautiful backdrop of our city, a concrete jungle with a lovely culture to offer.

The Cafe Festival, however, was dubbed as a horrible experience by many attendees, and has since become a PR disaster on its official Facebook event page. We peek into the event and point out 3 key factors that went wrong.

1) Promises made

It was expected that weather will be hot, especially since it is an outdoor event held at the urban concretized area in the day. While the organizers promised that there will be misting and cooling system to combat the heat, none of these were actually seen or felt by the goers

Then, the issue of goodie bags for pass holders. The promise of an enticing goodie bag of certain value worth was not translated to the hands of consumers. It was reported a tote bag with few pamphlets, and for some, NEWater and EZ-link card. The items was not exactly standardized.

Other promises made include the free Banana Boat sunscreen that was also nowhere to be found by the goers. The list goes on but whatever it is, trust between the public and the organizers is broken, and it would take a lot of amendments to get it fixed.

2) Price differentiation

With the Cafe Fest’s concept is almost similar to that of Beer Fest (which was very well-organized), they should thus be used as a model for the organizers of the Cafe Fest Singapore. This would then include having a better discrimination between VIP pass holders, ordinary pass holders and general public. VIP and pass holders generally felt “cheated” as they have paid a premium price for a normalized (if not less) experience than everyone else. The issue of exclusivity was absent. You can find out more of the expectations vs. reality on the detailed post on Mothership.

Here is the consideration: if you expect people to pay more, expect to give more.

3) Miscommunication and misrepresentation

There was a misrepresentation of information from the organizers to the pass holders that they can only purchase from the 12 cafes with a pass, but with a last minute change that was not properly executed and communicated to all attendees, general public ended up being able to enjoy the same benefit, paying only $0.50 extra. We learnt that the organizers could not reach an agreement between the participating cafes.

A further damage control that was supposed to improve the situation then angered the attendees. The change in pricing will make public to pay $2-3 more than pass holders. It sounds reasonable to appease the pass holders by increasing the prices for the public, but it does them no good – there is no significant benefit to them, or amount to what they would have expected after paying for passes to the festival. What should have been done was to improve on pass holders’ privileges.

There are certainly people who enjoyed Cafe Fest Singapore for the laid-back ambience, great music and company. This culture is one that is valuable and should be built upon, and this festival is at least a great start to it. With every event having its hits and misses, it will then be the best interest for the organizers of Cafe Fest Singapore to then do the necessary compensation to regain and fix the trust from the people if they want a successful event in the future.

Photos: Facebook Instagram #cafefestsg

Writer: Leong Chee Sheng

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