Reviews and Thank You posts

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It took me a long time to decide whether or not to write this.

Partially  because I work at events but also because there is a chance this will  rub some people I care about the wrong way.

But, in the end, I think it’s only fair to provide this point of view as apparently not everybody is aware of all the nuances of some of the reviews we see so often..

One of the things that will help a lot of people decide to attend (or not) a festival is how their peers feel about it.

Obviously, first-hand information (talking to friends) will be a major deciding factor. But we obviously also rely a lot on information we find online. And when it comes to festivals this often means information we find on Facebook.

Obviously, photos and videos from an event are two things that influence our decision. But keep in mind, photos and videos only give a partial impression (trust me, I’m a photographer 😉 ) and obviously images that would make an event look boring will never come online if the photographer is doing her/his job properly. And the same of course also holds true for video.

But there is another thing that influences our the decisions, the posts we see about the festival.

And from talking to people it’s become clear that the posts after an event are often a reason to consider going there next year.

You know the posts I’m talking about, the ones where we thank the organization and tell people what a great time we had.

And that makes sense. After all, you want to go to events where people had a great time.

Unfortunately, these posts are not always objective.

First of all, you have people that are somehow associated with an event.

Instructors, performers, DJs, photographers (yes, us too), volunteers, etc writing about the event that just ended.

As these people are all linked to the organization they obviously won’t write a negative review. After all, they don’t want to ruin their chance at future work. Yes, most people are in it cause they love salsa but then, they still have bills to pay anyway.

Then there are other people that weren’t hired by the organizers. Instead, they just attended and are hoping to be hired for another edition of the event. Obviously, these people are not going to write anything negative either. That wouldn’t be very good personal marketing.

Then there are also promoters. Some get paid a commission on tickets they sell, others just get their own pass for free. But still, they will want to convince as many people as they can to come for the next edition. After all, that is a good thing for them to. So they won’t write anything negative either.

This means you have a large group of people that won’t give you an honest review of the festival.

And then there is a final group,  people that are “sponsored”. They are just like the regular visitors but, for whatever reason (“whatever reason” is, generally, because the organization expects that their presence will bring other people 😉 ), have been invited by the organization or have been given heavily discounted passes/accommodation/etc.

And this is where it gets tricky. After all, if you know an artist performed it’s easy to be a bit more skeptical about a festival review. But if you don’t know that a person has been sponsored it just looks like a regular attendee. And that makes us inclined to accept their review at face value.

Just this year alone 3 events come to mind where I’ve been talking to people and (some of) the reviews didn’t really align with the event.

One event was generally accepted as “not worth going to” by most people I talked to. People actually said they didn’t really enjoy the event. But, at the end of it, they still published great reviews.

Another event had some organizational issues and what appeared to be a bit of bad luck. There were a lot of complaints during the weekend but if you read the reviews you would never guess. Again, mainly great reviews at the end of the weekend.

And at a 3rd event, the majority of the people I spoke too thought it was much too expensive for what was offered (even the people that didn’t pay for the pass or got it at a heavily discounted rate), They complained about the music and a lot of them didn’t dance for most of the event. But still, at the end of the event the same people that complained posted wonderful messages thanking the organization for a great event.

But now that you know this, how can you find reliable information to base your decision on? Should you disregard everything you read online?

No. But just look at it the same way you would look at a brochure promoting a car. The posts will probably highlight the positive parts of an event (danced till the break of dawn. Bootcamps by X, etc) while not mentioning the negatives. So although the reviews don’t share the weak points, they’ll tell you what the strong points of an event are.

Just keep in mind that, very likely, the review you’re reading just an advertisement. Nothing more, nothing less.

So before you even decide anything, think about your reasons for going.

Are you going mainly to follow workshops and to dance a bit at night or are you just going to party and maybe you’ll do a workshop?

If the first then choose the event based on the instructors you want to learn from. You probably have an idea of which instructors  you want to take classes  anyway. So that will make it easier to decide.

If the second, take your time to make a decision. First of all, think about what kind of event you prefer. Do you prefer a more intimate event where you have the chance to get to know people better or would you prefer a big event where you keep meeting new people and can go for 4 days without dancing with the same person twice?

Once you decide that, talk to friends that have gone to various festivals. Ask them about their experiences.

Also, ask your dance instructor. Although some of them promote festivals the majority don’t. So (s)he should be able to give you a fairly objective opinion that also keeps your current level in mind. And you’ll know whether or not they promote an event. If they keep talking about one festival in particular, or they have flyers laying around all the time, chances are they’re promoters for that festival

Finally, and this is my preferred way of deciding, you can always pick an event based on the location.

Choose an event in a city you wanted to visit anyway and just see it as a weekend trip with a lot of dancing involved. Maybe the event will be awesome, maybe it won’t.

Either way, you’ll get to have a weekend of fun in a place you wanted to visit anyway.

Have fun and see you on the dance floor! Or, for those of you that know me, more likely at the pre-party 😉