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Privacy settings at Goafest

Anamika Butalia     April 13, 2011
For the first time since its inception, Goafest moved its venue from public beaches to a completely private venue - within the premises of a hotel and across its private beach. Privacy for the festival was ensured but following are a few opinions that floated around.

In the words of Lynn de Souza: "The venue is large and spacious enough to easily accommodate the various events and about 3,000 delegates on its property." There's no doubt that the fest was completely private. Each registered delegate was given an access batch with a bar code that was scanned each time a delegate entered the premises.

This helped in ensuring that areas that were demarcated for either the eminent speakers, press or advertising executives were kept out-of-bounds for those unauthorised to access those areas.

The hotel had a policy that Goafest delegates that weren't staying at the property were not allowed to enter the hotel lobby. This checking was prim and proper at the lobby. Interestingly, if you accessed the hotel from its pool-side restaurant, no one would ask a question.

The press faced quite some difficulties in this case. At any given time, three events were taking place. There was the conclave, the MOFILM award ceremony, and the press conferences that took place in the banquet halls of the hotel. About 600 metres away - a walk through grassy pastures and sandy dune-like paths - was the seminar centre where all the seminars and the Olive Crown awards were held. The media room was situated next door to this seminar center. For any meetings with mediapersons, the speakers and advertising honchos preferred to meet at the poolside bar (about 300 metres away) and/or at the restaurant or in the lobby of the hotel - somewhere the press was not allowed in. This just ensured that the mediaperson was fully exercised by the end of Goafest.

For an event of this magnitude, there are several last-minute decisions taken too. One such decision was to announce the winners of some category awards of the Creative Abby to a day prior. Therefore, two category awards were announced on Friday evening instead of on Saturday evening. Now, all is well when this happens unless the nominated companies are not informed of this change. Not wise to the new itinerary, on Saturday evening, 150 delegates of a digital solution providing company arrived at the venue only to be congratulated "for their win". The company won an Olive Crown award that was held early on Saturday evening (before the Creative Abby awards). Extremely upset with the management and lack of communication, the head of the company used profanity on stage with Sir John Hegarty and other global heads of the industry in the audience. The emcee announced that no more "thank you" speeches would be encouraged. The reason given was to ensure that the ceremony ended in time.

It was overheard that in another incident, a media agency's global head - who visited the country for the first time in 11 years - was not provided accommodation for the festival, even though previously promised. In addition to this, Goafest OC forgot to inform that he would be picked up by the fest authorities. The gentleman chose to drive in the car booked by his NY-based office leaving the other driver to wonder for five hours where the gentleman had gone missing.

The good news is that there were no hooligans that tried to be part of the party. There was less to worry about for advertising executives, who were "attending Goafest" and just looking to have a few carefree days off. Off the premises of the hotel, the private beach was secured by patrolling security guards, especially since agencies like Mudra and Rediff had set up private shacks for their contingent.

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