Washout!! Festival Continuity Planning Failure

In June 2012 the Isle of Wight Festival had so many weather related problems that ferries carrying ticket holders were cancelled and those who made it had their cars trapped in the mud soaked fields hosting the event.

Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings said (in an interview with BBC Radio Solent): ‘Believe you me, I am doing everything in my power and the police are telling me to do everything in my power, because they want an emergency plan from me by Sunday about how we are going to get people out.’

55,000 people travelling to the Island for a weekend of music and camping turned into 7 miles of traffic jam after severe rain storms turned the grounds and surrounding areas into mud.  Car ferries were cancelled because vehicles were unable to disembark onto the Island.

Refunds have been promised for any unused tickets but many festival-goers said it felt like the organisers – despite offering an accurate weather forecast on their website.  While potential revellers packed wellington boots and wet weather gear, the sense of confusion and lack of planning upon arrival was allegedly evident.

As we publish this article, many are unsure how they will be able to leave on Sunday as their cars are stuck in deeply muddy fields.

It’s a classic example where business continuity planning for major events has either not happened or been woefully inadequate.  Let’s look at steps that could have been taken to minimise the fallout around the impact of the weather:

  1. A good Risk Assessment (RA) would have identified the significant possibility of heavy rain
  2. A  good Business Impact Analysis (BIA) would have identified critical activities that included the ability for festival goers to arrive by ferry, transport themselves to to the event, camp in the field and leave at the end of weekend
  3. Cross referencing the RA and BIA would have indicated the necessity to plan for the impact of heavy rain
  4. Arrangements could have been put into place, either as part of risk management or the Business Continuity Plan, to deal with the potential impact
While the organisers may still have been caught out by some features of the incident that they hadn’t realistically been able to forsee, it’s highly likely that they would have had plans for ferry cancellations and getting cars and revellers out of the mud!

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