Factors influencing experience in crowds: the organiser perspective

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Crowds are a commonplace encounter but the experience for participants can be highly variable. Crowds are complex sociotechnical phenomenon, affected by many interacting factors. Little is known, however, about how those responsible for organising crowd situations approach their responsibilities. This study conducted semi-structured interviews (n = 41) with organisers responsible for different aspects of the design, planning, management and operations of events and other crowd situations. The objective was to understand organisers' priorities, along with the consideration given to the experience of crowd participants. The interviews revealed that organisers generally prioritised finance, security and health and safety aspects, whilst giving limited explicit attention to other important factors that affect participant experience. Organisers tended to approach their planning and decisions on the basis of their own experience and judgement, without accessing training or reference to guidance. It is suggested that the non-use of guidance is in part due to problems with the guidance currently available, both its content and its form. The organisers of infrequent or small-scale events have the greatest knowledge and experience gap. It is concluded that in order to achieve a consistent, high quality experience for crowd participants, there needs to be improved understanding among organisers of the complexity of crowds and the multiple factors influencing participant experience. Guidance and tools need to be usable and tailored to organisers’ requirements. Organisers of infrequent or small-scale events are especially in need of support.