Sustainable events planner Andy King, who is widely known for his role in planning the infamous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas which saw founder Billy McFarland land a hefty jail sentence on wire fraud charges, is set to lead The Meeting Show’s keynote session on 21 October 2020.
Following the release of Netflix’s documentary chronicling Fyre Festival’s exploits, which uncovered King’s ‘above and beyond for the job’ attitude, the New Yorker has been busy raising money to pay back the out-of-pocket Fyre Festival contractors in the Bahamas, as well as hosting the digital music festival, Room Service, which raised $135,000 for charity.
With an event planning career spanning more than 30 years and a portfolio of clients including Leonardo di Caprio and Beyoncé, there is little King doesn’t know about creating a memorable event and how to turn a colossal negative into a positive — something the meetings industry is currently facing.
When we caught up with King ahead of The Meetings Show, he gave us a taste of the content attendees can expect at the October show, starting with crafting a sustainable meetings industry through realigning company values with brands making positive changes and getting clients on board.
King’s event company, Inward Point, has already eliminated single-use plastics from its events and is now striving to set sustainable standards to be followed. For example, ensuring all the food served at an event comes from within a 15-mile radius of the venue and even going a step further by inviting the producers to talk at the event. “Guess what? Guests love it,” explained King.
King carved out his niche in sustainable events planning after helping to organise a concert in aid of climate change. “At the end, it was heart-breaking because you had millions of people who flew in from around the world to participate in trying to save the planet and you’ve never seen so many plastic water bottles and plastic on the ground.
“After the concert, I decided to change my event business into zero-waste events and within two years, I hosted a dinner for Leonardo DiCaprio with 500 guests that was 99.9 per cent zero waste, and raised over, $8 million for climate change charities.”
"The irony of course”, King added “is that I was going to do this famous blowjob at Fyre Festival for 200,000 plastic water bottles when I don’t allow plastic in any of my events.”
The incident King is referring to was his public confession on Netflix’s Fyre Festival documentary, when Billy McFarland asked him to “take one for the team” and perform a sexual act on a Bahamian customs official to gain access to the Evian Water bottles which were being withheld.
Luckily, King never had to perform the act and the water was released. But learning from your mistakes is part and parcel of succeeding, as King explained.
“After a 30-year successful career, to be known as the ‘blowjob guy’ around the world was not part of my vision and when anything goes wrong in the world of pop culture, people refer to Fyre Festival.
“But people fail and so I say get out there and take a risk. Because you learn more from your failures than your successes,” he reminded us.
You can hear more from Andy King, his triumphs, advice and industry anecdotes during a Q&A session on Wednesday 21 October at this year’s hybrid The Meetings Show. Register for the virtual event here.
This article first appeared in Meetings & Incentive Travel