We started working on this year's theme as soon as the previous year's festival ended. In 2014, to mark the Louder Lounge's tenth anniversary, we wanted to bring the concept back to the roots of Virgin Media and the festival itself, with a focus firmly on music, as well as reinforcing a feeling of exclusivity. We deliberately scaled back the number of guests compared with previous years, hosting just 1,000 over the two days.
The theme was a rock 'n' roll experience, with the central feature a mock swimming pool, complete with inflatables and sun loungers. We also gave guests a chance to see exclusive and intimate acoustic performances from both popular and up-and-coming artistes on the Sony Xperia Access stage.
This year we deliberately placed the stage in the main area of the Louder Lounge to amplify the music experience. This was decided upon following feedback from last year, when the stage was set in a smaller space accessed through the bar.
As a team, we are all in agreement that it makes for a much better and more exciting event when we can maintain elements of surprise. There's no formal process to keeping details of the Louder Lounge secret, it's more a case of trusting the team we work with. We prefer to surprise guests on the day with an array of incredible partners and suppliers, rather than giving everything away in advance. It definitely encourages conversation in the run-up to the festival as guests speculate over who they think will be on site.
'Live' secret elements also add to the experience and lend a twist to an established format. In previous years we've had a secret bar that people had to find once they were at the festival. Last year we gave the following clue: 'you'll need to see a man about your ailments', which involved guests having to find a 'doctor' in the Louder Lounge and receiving a diagnosis. This year the bar was through a cupboard, in true Narnia style.
When people feel that they've discovered a 'secret', it gives a sense of exclusivity and sometimes generates conversation beyond the festival weekend, which is always a positive thing for the Louder Lounge. These touches add to the theatre of the weekend too, which in turn helps enhance people's experience of V Festival as a whole.
There are several teaser emails sent out from the Virgin Media Louder Lounge as the event gets closer. These serve a number of purposes. Firstly, they enable us to provide our guests with a seamless experience by communicating practical and useful information ahead of the festival. Secondly, they are a great opportunity for us to introduce the theme and tease elements of the weekend. We have a lot of new guests every year too, so giving them a taster of what they can expect helps them visualise what they're about to experience - and what they need to pack, too.