Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fyre

Surely by now you may have heard of a weekend fiasco (aka purebred sh*t show) called Fyre Festival, an expensive and decadently overpromised “luxury” festival in the Bahamas set to kick off last Friday. 

A dream deferred when as people arrived the festival’s promises went up in flames (in some cases, literally and yes the pun is intended). 

The festival’s organizers, McFarland and Ja Rule (which like, why?) have been under a lot of heat as they should be for taking thousands of dollars from people (just because some may have been rich doesn’t mean they deserve to be bamboozled) and totally not delivering the service nor the experience people not only expected but that Fyre Fest explicitly promised. Fyre Fest compared their inaugural event to Coachella in California which I haven’t been to yet but I guarantee people would not return if they experienced even a fraction of the hot mess Fyre Fest displayed. 

I won’t go into ALL the details of the unraveling that occurred because that’s what the internet for and you should certainly read about it. It’s terribly entertaining. 

In short, people bought high-priced tickets to stay in villas on a Bahamian island for what was supposed to be a two-weekend music festival. As people arrived, chaos ensued with lack of preparation and execution on the part of festival organizers and crew. People were pissed to find emergency response tents instead of villas, bare bones meals, lack of lights, security amd much more. It was basically camping which is fine if you knew going in that’s what it was. This was more of a bait and switch situation. 

Hearing the reports and seeing the pictures met a range of responses from hilarity to horror. Ja Rule became a Joanne the Scammer meme QUICK. It was all just a big mess. I started following the story because I was fascinated by the company responses or in many cases, lack thereof. 

Until they were dragged through every valley on social media, they seemed to play it cool or make excuses for why things weren’t ready. 

The following was the apology (or again lack thereof) attempting to explain away how their poor planning was not their fault. 

April 29, 2017

Yesterday was a very challenging day for all of us. But we would like to fully explain what happened.

Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.

They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Ja helped book talent, and they had hundreds of local Bahamians join in the effort. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.

As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.

The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.

Everyone was very concerned for our guests. They needed a place to sleep and everyone did their absolute best to rebuild. We took everyone to the beach and built as many tents and beds as fast as possible, but as more guests arrived, we were simply in over our heads. Ultimately, we didn’t think security could keep up, so we had to postpone the festival. The response to the postponement was immediate and intense. We had no other options, so we began the process of getting guests quickly and safely back to Miami, which continued through the weekend. Our top priority as a company is to ensure the comfort and safe return home of all of our guests.

Then something amazing happened: venues, bands, and people started contacting us and said they’d do anything to make this festival a reality and how they wanted to help. The support from the musical community has been overwhelming and we couldn’t be more humbled or inspired by this experience. People were rooting for us after the worst day we’ve ever had as a company. After speaking with our potential partners, we have decided to add more seasoned event experts to the 2018 Fyre Festival, which will take place at a United States beach venue.

All festival goers this year will be refunded in full. We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details. Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year’s festival.

We’re grateful for the Bahamian Government and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for their assistance during this challenging time—their efforts have been exemplary. We want to thank the people of the Bahamas for their support and for graciously allowing us the privilege of visiting their islands. We apologize for any inconvenience the past 24-hours has caused and we look forward to making a considerable donation to the Bahamas Red Cross Society as part of our initiatives. We need to make this right. And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre.

Thank you for all your continued patience and understanding. We apologize for what all of our guests and staff went through over the last 24 hours and will work tirelessly to make this right. Please check our official social media channels (@fyrefestival) for further important updates.

You can (and should) do your research to fact-check. Still trying to save face, the company did not make an appropriate apology to address their role in the chaos at the same degree the mess occurred. The blame kept getting passed and there are still many stages of this story just DO NOT add up. They just don’t.  As a patron, that part would infuriate me because at the basic level this company is not acknowledging what they failed and misrepresented so everyone can move forward. 

For example, they apparently did not realize they were unprepared until people began arriving by plane to the island. 

They plan to try this again next year (which like, why?) and prove they can produce the vision they had. They are offering the option for refunds or people can opt for additional free VIP passes to next year and forgo their refund. The first lawsuit has been filed of which I am sure others will follow. 

The lessons for me in this story are simple: greed destroys, preparation is everything and taking genuine responsibility for your actions is what can actually save your butt when the smoke clears. As an aspiring entrepreneur, watching this company crash and burn in jaw-dropping fashion is a valuable example on how to not go down the same path even on smaller scales. 

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