Cooler fetes are increasingly taking the place of the all-inclusive model as the premier party for Carnival fun as promoters battle the recession.
Causes— including calendar staples like South Cancer, Friends of the Blood Bank, and school fetes— will be the future of the all-inclusive model because they make a better statement to justify spending a lot of money and making sure that money goes to the right place, Derek Lewis, chief executive of Island People and Eventology, said.
“I identified (this trend) about six years ago. Just to have fun as an all-inclusive is definitely on the decline as a working model. It’s not successful. If you don’t have a cause or can’t relate the fete to a cause, then don’t have one,” he said.
Lewis was part of a much-anticipated panel featuring prominent bandleaders, including Tribe Group of Companies Managing Director Dean Akin and Caesar’s Army chief executive Jules Sobion. The panel was the Shape Edutainment Conference’s closing event, held at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business on Friday.
Akin said the decline in all-inclusives was magnified because of the economy, as some event managers were cutting down on premium drinks and trying to bring down prices.
“Prices like $1000, $1,200, $1,500—they aren’t going to fly now. So you’re seeing even people who still have these events changing them to drinks inclusive or just bringing it down to cooler fetes, but they are changing (the product) that they offer.”
Akin added that up to last year—two years into the recession—the party industry was doing quite well.
“Most of the bands were sold out. Now it’s the third year and I suspect just listening to fellow band leaders that the numbers are down.”
Competition is a factor, he suggested, and Government agencies designed to help promote the local product aren’t helping like they should.
“Other carnivals (internationally) are a little cheaper. Their destinations are better. We have some work to do. We should really be supported by the ministries and National Carnival Commission and so, but I’m not too sure we get that support.”
Sobion suggested making Carnival more of an experience outside of just Monday and Tuesday and fetes. “Maybe we can enhance a little more of the original forms of Carnival, the Canboulay, make something out of Maracas Beach or other attractions that could make it seem a little more holistic when you come to Trinidad.”