10 lessons for your wedding business from FYRE Festival

You’ve probably watched at least one of the documentaries about the FYRE Festival. If you haven’t, you should! I watched the one by Netflix titled ‘FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened’ but there’s another by Hulu. Wikipedia describes Fyre Festival as the “failed “luxury music festival” founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule.

While watching, I couldn’t help but think of what lessons I could apply to my business so here I am sharing some of my notes with you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. 

Before you invest in marketing, ensure your product/service is ready: Sometimes we start marketing and hyping our products way too early, it’s important that your product and/or service is well defined before you market it to people. That way, you know exactly what you’re promising people and you’re not over promising without fully understanding what you can and can’t deliver 

Always consider launching with an MVP: MVP means “minimum viable product’. While its great to reach for the stars and aim for the absolute best, the first iteration of product/service doesn’t have to be the final one. Learn to launch your product in phases; that way you can manage growth, take some time out to research, test & learn from phase 1 and apply learnings in the next phases.

Don’t feel you have to re-invent the wheel to succeed: I can imagine that this is a challenge for businesses today especially those who try to stand out and create something new. But sometimes, it’s not worth the stress. You know the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’; I’ve learnt that lesson myself too and watching the FYRE documentary reminded me of why this isn’t always worth the hassle. 

The FYRE team were planning to host the concert on an island, which had very little or no infrastructure. If they had gone to a resort and paid to use the entire resort (with already existing facilities and infrastructure), I dare say this concert would have been a hit. I don’t have the numbers but I can only imagine how much went into creating things like water supply, a waste management system, etc. All of those costs could have been avoided.

There are investors out there: This was one of the things I kept writing in my note pad as I watched. One quote from the Neflix documentary by one of the people who got interviewed was ‘Money kept coming in. I don’t know where it came from but it kept coming’ and I thought ‘Wow, there are people out there with money just waiting to invest in your idea and business’. So, just like Billy I need to find these people – wherever they are. 

Under promise and over deliver ALWAYS: This is one of my business mantras and I try to apply this where possible. If this festival was promoted as a standard festival with music artists, etc; it probably wouldn’t have gone so wrong but the promise of a luxury festival meant expectations were triple / quadraple what they would usually be. This is not to say ‘you should hide behind low targets for you and your business’ but it’s more about promising the essentials. There are things that are must haves and others that are nice to have. Focus on delivering the must-haves before you promise the nice-to-have’s. 

Luxury means just that: This is particularly common in the wedding industry where a lot of brands feel the need to be branded as luxury vendors without fully realising what it takes to offer a luxury product or service. There’s so much more to a luxury product other than the price tag; its the total experience you give the customer from the moment the customer gets in touch to inquire about your product/service to the after sale experience.

Digital Marketing is powerful: So this documentary has thrown a lot of light on Influencer Marketing and why it needs to be regulated, all of which are valid points. However, can we talk about how a simple, well-coordinated series of posts by influencers led to a sold-out event in less than 48 hours? Digital marketing is quick, affordable, fairly easy to execuite and distribute and can give great results if well executed.

Photo: The Fashion Law

Values matter: All through the documentary, I kept thinking how all these people ended up working on this project. How were they recruited? What questions did they ask during the interview, etc? I believe in the power of values and that they should absolutely define how things are done. Your values should guide you in everything – from product development to the way you work, what you choose to say No to, etc.

One of the interviewees said something along the lines of Billy’s (FYRE Inc.’s CEO’s) attitude was to come with solutions and no complaints. While I recognise that it’s a great attitude to have; it almost promotes the culture of pouring paint over problems to make them look good.

We all don’t like hearing our business idea is crap or that something we thought of isn’t as great as we think it is but we all need to get to a point where we realise that we need to be open to listening regardless of what’s being said. It’s up to you to then decide whether or not to take what’s being said on board or not but listen, you must. And this is where transparency and openness come in. Every business should create an environment where people are not afraid to voice their concerns and speak up. I find that when I really listen, I get some of the best ideas from my team, I refine ideas I thought weren’t good enough and bin some that really were just great in my head.


Wedding Vendor 101 is an educational hub for African wedding vendors. We offer coaching sessions, resources, online training courses, and more to help African wedding vendors thrive using digital marketing strategies.

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