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Waterbomb HK slammed for queues chaos: How can organisers better manage audiences' expectations?

Waterbomb HK slammed for queues chaos: How can organisers better manage audiences' expectations?

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The organisers of the Waterbomb Hong Kong music festival have apologised after the event was delayed by an hour on Saturday and participants had to wait for hours to retrieve personal bags after the first day of the event.  

The two-day water-themed music festival, a well-liked Korean event centred around music and water fight, was held at the outdoor venue of AXA x Wonderland venue at West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong for the first time on 1 and 2 June.  

However, the organisers of the festival rescheduled the opening time of the event from 2pm to 3pm on 1 June due to adverse weather conditions. Photos and videos of long queues at the entrance went viral online, while some participants were still outside when the concert began, a check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw on LIHKG.

According to its statement posted on Instagram, due to the impact of the typhoon Maliksi, some facilities suffered severe damage on-site yesterday. The organisers said in consideration of public safety, they have made adjustments to the admissions and performance schedule. 

“After strenuous efforts to repair and reinforce, we promptly arranged for audience entry. We deeply apologise for any inconvenience caused,” the company said. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Waterbomb Hong Kong for a statement. 

Social sentiments 

The incident has drawn mixed reactions from netizens. Media intelligence firm CARMA saw over 1,500 mentions about the festival, with most of these mentions emerging within the last 24 hours. Of these, 30% carried a negative sentiment, while only 6% were positive. 

Netizens heavily criticised the event for being poorly organised, describing the arrangements as catastrophic, said Charles Cheung, CARMA’s HK GM.  

“Many attendees were particularly disappointed with the bag storage procedure; users on LIHKG reported waiting in the rain for up to three hours to collect their bags after the event concluded,” he said. 

“The attendees did not accept the organiser’s apology, believing that the typhoon was not a valid excuse for the poor arrangements. Some even stated on Waterbomb’s Hong Kong Official Instagram page that they would report the event to the Consumer Council, alleging it to be a scam,” Cheung added.  

Meanwhile, social monitoring firm Meltwater saw over 511 mentions regarding the incident, with 28.6 negative, 51.7% neutral and 19.8% positive sentiments. 

Keywords associated with the incident include “2am in the morning”, “Police”, “Jay Park”, "dumb" and “spent so much money to get the VIP tickets”. 

Industry reactions  

Commenting on the move, Celine Cheung, account director of RSVP Communications said it is a commendable move to apologise for the hiccups, however immediate actions are also essential to calm the public anger.  

“This experience has given tourists a poor impression of mega events and it might affect their willingness to visit Hong Kong next time. As Hong Kong values the tourism economy, the events industry should come together to bring more good work to the city, including hiring more events talent,” she added. 

Despite delaying the event by an hour, the audience eventually all made it to the venue, said David Ko, managing director, RFI Asia. “At the end of the day, the wet weather probably rendered the ‘water bomb’ concept irrelevant, but the audience got to see their favourite performers eventually. I would still call that a win.” 

In fact, public safety should always be paramount in any decision to proceed or postpone due to natural weather challenges.  As such, delaying the start after re-enforcing structures for the safety of patrons is a good move, said Kevin Kan, chief experience officer, Break Out Consulting Asia.  

What the Waterbomb Hong Kong event organisers could have done better was to leverage technology better, he said. “Using widespread social media messaging or direct contact with ticket buyers or tying up with radio to announce or publish later start times would have been crucial to managing customer expectations.” 

On the other hand, given the number of complaints about storing personal belongings, it looks like standard operating procedures (SOP) did not cover contingencies for things going wrong, added Kan. “Inability to store belongings & then retrieving the wrong bag on what was a wet & dreary day would not have added to a good customer experience,” he added. 

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world!

Related articles:

When music festivals go wrong: How can organisers reengage with confused consumers
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