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2016 Festival Study Findings and Improvements for 2017 Festival

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival:

2016 Festival Study Findings and Improvements for 2017 Festival


The 2016 Tampa Bay Margarita Festival was a huge success with over 13,000 in attendance and over 50,000 margaritas served. While many attendees enjoyed the festival and all the amenities and entertainment we had to offer, many others also expressed their dissatisfaction with a few items addressed below. To improve on the festival, we commissioned a group of UT MBA students to conduct a post-event survey. We analyzed and used those results to come up with a plan to make the 2017 Tampa Bay Margarita Festival the best one yet!

We are happy to share those results and our plans with you below. We hope to see you at the 2017 Festival!

Issue Finding #1: VIP Overcrowding


  • VIP ticket holder complaints

  • Long lines at VIP bars


  • Only 1 VIP area

  • Sponsors getting access to VIP area

  • VIP ticket fraud/duplication

New for 2017:

  • There are now 2 different VIP ticket types with 2 different VIP experiences: The VIP Grand Marnier Experience and the Cabo Wabo Stage VIP Experience. Each VIP ticket is specific to the VIP area. This will alleviate numbers and provide a unique experience for those who wants to be closer to the stage to have a better view of the band OR have a more relaxing experience enjoying Margaritas. Each VIP is still limited to 500 tickets.

  • Sponsors will now NOT be able to access any of the VIP areas, but instead will have their own Sponsorship Lounge

  • VIP Ticket holders will be required to show a valid government issued ID to receive their VIP wristbands and that ID MUST MATCH the name on the issued ticket. This will eliminate any fraudulent tickets through copying or passing of tickets.

Issue Finding #2: RFID Wristbands


  • Long lines at check in

  • Long lines at Top Up Stations

  • Dissatisfaction at Refund Process


  • RFID wristband registration process too long

  • Waiting in line twice to get wristband and top up.

  • Technology failure

  • Refund fees charged to obtain refund for unused funds

New for 2017:

  • The Tampa Bay Margarita Festival will stay with an RFID Wristband system, BUT with new vendor and a new process explained below:

  • The new RFID Wristband system will eliminate the need to “Top Up” if you are using your credit card.

  • Once you receive your wristband, you can link your credit card to the wristband and use it at any of the margarita bars and vendors.

  • You can link your wristbands with your card through your smart phone or at an onsite kiosk

  • BENEFIT: No topping up = no waiting in line twice + no left over funds + no refund fees charged. You just spend as much as you swipe!

  • If you want to use cash, you still have to load it on to the wristband. HOWEVER, once you are done spending the money, you will be able to go back to the load up station and receive your unspent funds back, WITHOUT ANY REFUND FEES CHARGED!

  • To avoid having to top up, we suggest you use your credit card!

  • Why are we so adamant about using an RFID Cashless System? We invest so much money into this system for the following benefits:

  • Greater security at the event with no cash scattered throughout the 40+ acre event area

  • Easier transaction for YOU, our attendees, at the bars.

  • Faster transaction between you and our bartenders.

  • You won’t have to pull out your wallet to look for a card or cash.

  • Our bartenders don’t have to count change back but instead focus on making the best margaritas for you!

  • Greater access control for VIP areas

  • All of this will result in faster lines and the faster you get to enjoy your margaritas!

Issue Finding #3: Drink Waiting Times


  • Waiting too long for drinks

  • Big difference between expected waiting time v. actual

  • Not enough margaritas for all ;)


  • Inadequate number of bartenders

  • Bartenders are both making drinks and ringing up transactions

  • Supplies took too long to be refilled

New for 2017:

  • Bartender numbers will be doubled

  • Re-implementation of the double-serving system where one bartender is making your drink in the back and another bartender is taking your order and ringing up the transaction. This will reduce wait time significantly as your order will be ready when your transaction is completed.

  • Supplies will be placed strategically around the bars, so that once a supply run out, it takes less time for a bar-back to refill the supplies.

Issue Finding #4: Shade Availability


  • Comments of “too hot”, “no shade”

  • Attendees leaving event to cool off


  • Venue not designed with many shades

  • More tents will block views of stage

New for 2017:

  • We are conducting a site survey of underutilized areas and adding shade areas that are much more impactful. i.e. not just and umbrella that shades 4 people at a time

  • We are permitting a big shade structure on Kiley Gardens (if approved by City)

  • We are trying to close a road underneath the Poe Garage, which will provide hundreds of thousands of sqft of shade area (if approved by City)

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