Sanjeev Kotnala: Getting set for Goafest

21 Mar,2018

By Sanjeev Kotnala


The thirteenth edition of Goafest and the 50th Abby is all set for April 5-7, 2018 at Grand Hyatt, Goa. It will be my thirteenth consecutive Goafest. I am one of the few people who has attended every edition.  Goafest delivers three days of pure fun, engagement, networking opportunities and celebration. It is, Bole toh, a Jhakaas Fest.

The entries are all in. The shortlist is available on the site. KPMG is busy doing the final audits, and the trophy maker is waiting for the inscriptions.

Time to compliment the AGC (Awards Governing Council) team and AGC Chairman Ajay Kakar for the promised transparent tally system, getting the ‘Master Jury’, enhanced inclusiveness with non-participant organisations representation and an apparent smoothness of the judging processes. So far so good.

Goafest is all about delegate experience and buzz. Ashish Bhasin, Chairman, Goafest and his team are busy ensuring that Goafest 2018 sets up new standards and delivers a superlative experience to its delegates. Goafest is not just about the celebrity speakers and entertainment or the even the awards. It is a collective framework, and the delegates have every right to expect the best.

MARKETERS STILL MISSING THE FUN. GoaFest remains a creative and media agency-centric festival. Marketing and clients are missing the fun.

Speakers. We have a good line-up of speakers at Goafest. Baba Ramdev and Rana Kapoor Cameron Worth (SharpEnd), Dean Donaldson and Jonathan Tavss (Kaleidoko), Ramaa Mosley and Amelia Conway (Adolescent). Rosie Yakob (Genius Steals), Samuel Akesson (Forsman & Bodenfors),  Tim Castree (Wavemaker) and Wain Choi (Cheil Worldwide). I hope there are few more Indian speakers from the MAdTech world as I sincerely think that we must also celebrate Indian rise in the arena.

ADDING A DASH OF CRICKET, SPORTS, BOLLYWOOD. Goafest is incomplete without cricket, sports and Bollywood. I don’t remember when this trend started. I hate it but have no answer to the enthusiastic crowd support to them. These are the most attended sessions.

This year we have Sparsh Shah (child artist), Jonty Rhodes (Cricket), Siddharth Malhotra!!! (Bollywood), Sania Mirza (Tennis), and Nawazuddin Siddiqui !!! (Bollywood). It seems like we are balancing absence of Indian speakers from MAdTech with them. And are they not one-too-many in a 2-day event?

Comments on the speakers and the content are best served uncensored post the event.

MY CRIB.  Why should we invite a controversial person like Baba Ramdev to a festival led by AAAI and AdClub? We know Baba questions, breaks and challenges every ASCI guideline? It does not make sense to me. Where is the cause of collectivism? Will Baba share how and why not to abide by ASCI norms? He is one of the big advertisers and must answer his repeated frequent violation of the guidelines. I plan to attend his season and protest with a black armband.


ENTERTAINMENT AND AWARDS. Surprise audience with the unpredictability of the entertainment during awards. Consider having it towards the end. It can prevent the predictable thinning of the crowd as the night progresses. No one enjoys watching awards presented in the presence of few organisers, winners and a handful of audience. May be a few subset categories need to be sandwiched between awards that make the crowd surge. Maybe do away with the entertainment show.


TIME MANAGEMENT. We don’t start or close a session on time. It impacts networking and time management at the individual level. It is the most significant irritant (after low impact content) that scars the experience.  Make a small investment. Get a digital stopwatch mounted right in front of the speaker. Use red and green lights for the suggestion. Be rigid and consistent in behaviour.  Once we demonstrate the intent, the problem can be managed better


GOAFEST APP. Everyone appreciates the app for collecting and managing Q&A sessions. I have heard delegates murmur about non-transparency in moderator selecting the questions and declaration of winners. Can we use the conflict of interest clause? May be we can physically show the open and close the window to enter the questions? The app should show all the questions in the order they were raised? Moderator must ensure the questions are selected on merit and in sequence.

Here are few under-the-radar issues.
Remember, 90% of delegates stay outside the venue hotel.


EXTENDING THE SHUTTLE. It is not easy for the delegates to enjoy the famed after-parties with the shuttles closing by 11pm. Can shuttles be extended to 2 am?

REST SPACE. I know no festival provides space for people to rest. However, that should not stop Goafest from thinking of doing so. What about having bunk beds or cocoons available for hiring at the venue? It can be enjoyable, and some brand could sponsor.

KEEP IT FLOWING. Agree don’t allow beer and eatables inside the halls. However, can we have the beer counters open throughout the day without random, unannounced breaks?


Join me at Goafest, the three days of pure fun, engagement, networking opportunities and celebration.  Bole toh, a Jhakaas Fest!



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