I’m off! I’m on my way to celebrate the party of tomorrow for the fifth time already. And I’m incredibly grateful to make it to Tomorrowland’s fifteenth anniversary, surrounded by the people who inspire me and motivate me daily.
Five years ago, I invited a group of people important to me to join me for my first visit to Tomorrowland. I told them to leave business talk at home and to wear shorts and slippers, I booked us VIP tickets and made sure we all got the most out of this crazy journey. Why? Because I wanted to thank them. A ‘thank you’ that couldn’t be said through words, flowers or goodies. This ‘thank you’ needed something more: an unforgettable experience.
A harmonious story all year long
Even if you’ve never been to Tomorrowland yourself, you probably have a pretty strong idea in your mind of what the festival is like. Which is the fool-proof result of the event’s online story, in perfect harmony with the real deal. This smart hand-in-hand position of the online and offline is something many companies could learn from – because today, it’s not just a necessity to bring things full circle, it’s an expectation of your audience that you can’t ignore.
Tomorrowland takes experience to the next level, both online and offline. Its only restriction is to stay true to its brand – apart from that, everything is possible. Ice cubes imprinted with the TML logo? Toilets branded in the yearly switching theme? Adding Facebook friends through a special button on your wristband? Memorising your visit by getting a TML tattoo on-site? It’s all been said and done. In addition to the foreign dream of the festival itself, the Tomorrowland organisation has managed to create an all-year-long experience with innovations such as its One World radio station, the TML clothing line and an additional winter festival.
The strength of community-building
Part of the successful experience of Tomorrowland is without a doubt the community feeling the event has managed to create. From the minute you get your hands on the eagerly sought-after tickets, when you receive your TML box (a true collector’s item) sent over to your house, your first step on the festival site on to the after movies. Every step in your Tomorrowland journey makes you feel part of a special community and, easily said perhaps, it makes you feel good. Even the festival’s trash-pickers walk around with a proud smile, happy to be part of this amazing group of people.
This community stretches out much further than just the festival site itself. Tomorrowland has set up the UNITE events, hosting mini-versions of the TML party in Belgium, with DJs and an on-screen live stream of the actual festival. At several international locations, like Barcelona and Athens, people who didn’t get to go to TML in Belgium can join the party so that, in some way, they can feel part of the community after all.
The DJ sets from the festival are also live streamed and posted onto YouTube for everyone to watch at home. Some may argue that this takes away the exclusivity of the event, but Tomorrowland sees things differently: it gives people at home a look inside the magical atmosphere and community at the festival site, making them wish they were part of it, too. And after all, the DJ sets are just a small piece of the overall experience. A YouTube video can never show you the amount of bright colours and music-synced fireworks at the festival site, the other-worldly feeling of Dreamville or the detailed luxury in every corner. But it can give you a very valuable glimpse of it.
What your business can learn from Tomorrowland
So, what can we learn from this crazy festival? In the passion and dedication that radiates in everything that happens there, there is a firm focus on the audience. Just as Tomorrowland has turned festival visitors’ frustrations into thoughtful surprises (easy example: the spotlessly clean toilets), do the same thing for your business. How can you make your business’s customer journey quicker, more efficient and, most importantly, more memorable?
Don’t settle for less than making your customer feel euphoric and part of a special community. Think of what they want, what they would benefit from. Stop making decisions based purely on numbers or money. Tomorrowland chooses its partners wisely, based on what they could mean for visitors – not simply because of the price the sponsor pays. You can do so, too, no matter how small or local your business may be.
We should all dare to dream bigger, surely? Children know no limits to their dreams and imagination. Why do we lose this bravery and passion as we age? Are we afraid of reaching for the sky? Are we too humble about what we’re really capable of? Because, frankly, when you visit the festival you’ll know: tomorrow is limitless.
Some unforgettable moments: