The Sanjeev Kotnala Pre-Goafest Survey

05 Apr,2017


By Sanjeev Kotnala


Tomorrow, the 12th annual Advertising Marketing Media and Technology Kumbh Mela of India —  Goafest, a joint initiative of the Adverstising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and The Advertising Club starts at Grand Hyatt hotel in Goa.


In the first year, delegates checking into their rooms found an emergency kit strategically placed next to the pillow. If I am right, it was a promotion by MTV. Inside it were three basic items of utmost importance. Aspirin to take care of headaches and mouth freshener to take care of smelsl after too much drinking and smoking. And a pack of condom, in case you needed it.


Since then, Goafest has evolved to be a complex balance of knowledge, motivation, award, networking and drinks.


A committee of dedicated professionals, selflessly working together creates this magic every year. In case you like the experience, please find one of them (Ashish Bhasin, Raj Nayak, Ramesh Narayan, Nakul Chopra, Sudesh Kapoor, Bipin Pandit) and congratulate them for their efforts, planning and execution.


On the other side, if you do not like something or want to suggest something, you can also share it. Nevertheless, if you do not want to share it directly with them or you do not want to spoil the festival fever! Don’t worry, write in to me at or tweet at @s_ kotnala, and I will do the needful. Oh yes, it will be done post the festival.


Industry members mostly nominated and sponsored by their companies collect at this mela. For few of them, it is almost an annual ritual. I have not missed a single year. I can vouch for the fact that GoaFest has been moving in the right direction.


This year’s format is something I love. Thank you for a late morning start. We do have sessions that are longer than constraining 30-minute slots. Creative and media master classes. To top it up, there is intoxicating entertainment for the evening and a dose of spirituality for the balance.


There are few things I am not sure of. Like, will the beer be available through the day or will they keep shutting and opening the bar. Can they put a board for bar working hours? Can I start dinner early if I am not attending awards? Will this clubbing of sessions allow or promote timely starts and ends?


Here is the secret to get the max out of Goafest. Mix work with pleasure. Handpick the session to attend and then forget the rest. Define networking targets and keep the count. Find time to go through the exhibits, there is a wealth of information and ideas in them. If interested and winning some metals, you could attend the awards function or just get recharged at the after-award parties. And positively find sometime to get out to visit nearby attractions.


This year, it is not easy to select the sessions to attend. Here is my list in order of priority and the strong likelihood of me attending them: Hemant Malik (ITC), Acharya Balkrishna ( Patanjali), Ishita Katyal (Youngest Ted speaker), Gaur Gopal Das (Spiritual Guru), Miss Malini Agarwal (The blogger), Geeta and Babita Pogat (Going to be crowd favourites), Eric Cruz (ECD AKQA), Claus Stangl (IG Creative Shop), Vivian Richards (Cricket), Juhi Kalia (Facebook), Laura Ries and Sanjay Dutt. How many I will end up attending is a matter of circumstances and impact of after-parties. Even so, the first six are almost certain. And then there are creative and media workshops which I have not considered in my list.


Ok, now the last interesting part. This year, I floated a simple survey on the digital platform to get some clarity on what people think of Gafest. I had 55 people who have attended it in the past and 55 who have never attended a Goafest, replying to the survey. I think that is a decent size.


Here are some highlights of what I picked up:

Please promote the shortlisted entry display area with enough directional signage. Its importance has always been underplayed.

On a scale of 5 stars, with 5 being the best, the people who have attended Goafest gave it a 3.45 rating and people who never attended gave it a 3-star rating. None of these are really encouraging.

This is reflected in the negative Net Promoter Score – 18 (Delegates) and -22 (Non-delegates) for Goafest. This is in response to the simple statement ‘How likely is it that you would recommend Goafest to a friend or colleague?’  with the standard 10-point scale. This is worrying, and I hope this year GoaFest will overall improve the score.



Just concentration on delegates, the Top 5 motivations/ reason to attend Goafest seemed puzzling. Whereas non-delegates seem to be motivated on the thought of gaining knowledge! Making new business prospects and meeting industry friends among a host of other fragmented reasons.



Another interesting point to note is the spiraling cost of registration. Though it is much lower than the fee charged by international festivals, we cannot use that as a reference point. So, Rs 15,000 to Rs 17,500 seem to be a much-preferred band of the registration fee. Most do believe that the under-30 subsidised fee is un-necessarily inflating the fee they have to pay and the festival team should re-look at it.



Now, more importantly, the respondent believed that Abby judging is fair. However, they also say that there are too many awards, which devalue it.



The delegates do gain knowledge at Goafest and they do believe that the festival suffers from ‘foreigner = expert’ complex. The data did capture a minority wanting to consider stopping free beer! Thankfully, they did not share their identity.


Before I close, let me share that there is a strong demand for complete package that includes registration, stay, local transport, meals and travel. Before we deny it, we must realise that such packages are designed for events abroad. Maybe something like this will benefit a lot more individuals and small agencies. In my view, it is worth considering.


So, here I close, wishing Goafest and the delegates all the best.


PS: Before I say goodbye, let me plug something interesting. Last year, the last after-hours party was in full swing and by 2 am. I was a bit tipsy too. Right near outside the party area, I met a lady. What started with a cool borrowing of a smoke, extended long into highly engrossing conversation on nothing, in particular, here is the rider: I don’t know who she was, and it is equally likely that she may not remember me. I was the person who shared the last few cigarettes at a time when there was no place to get fresh stocks from. So, the young lady in question, if you are attending Goafest this year too, do connect with me. And yes, you can always find me around 1130, you know where!


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