With supply chain costs soaring, Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) general secretary Steve Heap offers event organisers some advice on how best to work through the challenges.

I have just returned from a very successful Showman’s Show. There I met with some of the best infrastructure suppliers in the business and they all reported very high costs for rebuilding their stock.

That, in turn with much higher transport costs, will clearly lead to a big jump in the hire costs to you the festival organisers. You can’t blame them, they are only passing on the increases that they have encountered in the market.

I know from chatting to dozens of suppliers that they love the festival industry and will trim their prices as much as they can to meet your budgets, but you will need to be realistic.

“Do not put your tickets on sale at a price you think your customers want to pay.”

There is no doubt, the costs for staging a festival in 2023 are going to be very high. By the end of the 2022 season, festival organisers were reporting 20-30% increases in hire costs for equipment, artists and staff.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it will all level out and pricing will return to pre-pandemic levels. They won’t.

You just need to bite the bullet and be brave enough to write a budget that recognises the changing world and the economic climate. If your weekend adult ticket was £150 in 2019 or even 2022, then with the same number sold your price could well breach the £200 barrier.

Glastonbury has just announced that its equivalent ticket will be more than £300. They go on sale in November with a deposit scheme in place and they will sell out within a few hours. That is because they are selling the Glasto experience, as the artists list will not be revealed for some months yet.

Is this a lesson for you? Can you sell your tickets on the unique atmosphere and experience of your festival? I know of at least two AFO festivals that are doing just that, and selling well.

So, the message is clear – do not put your tickets on sale at a price you think your customers want to pay, then try writing a budget. Find out what your cost will be first and write the budget after.

Price your ticket accordingly and plan for a small downturn. The infrastructure you need will not increase in price by the usual 5%, it will, at the very least, match September inflation of 10% and in some cases go as far as 25%.