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Booking in: Why can't Sunshine Coasters commit?

A FOUNDER of some of the Sunshine Coast's biggest music events has rated the region as "the hardest market in Australia" to get bookings.

Mark Pico, a musician and founder of the Golden Days, Big Pineapple and East Coast Originals music festivals, made the comment after hearing of a smaller charity event which struggled to get bookings.

Two days before Barry Bull put on a concert for the Hear and Say Centre at Mooloolaba last month, only two dozen tickets had been booked, although far more people had told him they would attend.

Mr Bull, aware of the tendency to book late on the Coast, took a gamble which paid off.

About 90 people - more than four times the number who had booked - turned up on the day and the event raised $6000 for Hear and Say.

Mark Pico has had a similar experience with a last-minute crowd on a much larger scale.

About 2500 people booked tickets for the second Golden Days festival at Coolum in 2011 but another 3000 rocked up on the day.

Mr Pico said the Coast was "the hardest market for a promoter in Australia to get people to commit to your event."

He said the Coast's commitment-phobia made it difficult to adequately plan and cater for an event when it came to services and facilities such as food, bar and toilets.

Mr Pico was forced to buy two extra pallets of beer from the bottleshop where he worked part-time to help ease the demand on bars at the 2011 festival "but you've still got mayhem."

"You can't cater for that sort of thing. The foodies couldn't get extra food in," he said.

Mr Bull said Coast people were "very casual with their leisure time" compared to Brisbane-ites who were "a lot more organised" which made it hard to run a good event.

"It's very hard to cater and run an event when you've got maybe 40% booking and 60% turn up on the day because they've got nothing better to do," he said.

"It's very hard to run an event within a community that doesn't know what they're doing 24 hours in advance," he said.

Event organiser Min Swan, of White House Celebrations, which looks after corporate and private functions from balls to christenings, said bookings seemed to fluctuate with events.

In her experience, people were more likely to book for pricier events and take their chances on events where the ticket price was lower.

She said people were also more willing to book for an event which had a good reputation but it could be very difficult to get people to commit to new events "when you haven't got happy memories to trade off."

So why are Sunshine Coast people commitment-phobes?

Ms Swan put it down to the Coast lifestyle and being spoilt for choice.

"I think because here on the Sunshine Coast, we have a lot of events in my view and we've a bit more of relaxed approach. We like to sit back and have a look think, 'That's interesting,' and not commit until we see what else is happening in our life," she said.

Mr Pico said understanding the Coast's late booking psyche was like searching for hidden treasure but he also picked a laidback attitude as partly responsible for a reluctance to book.

"I do put it down to our great way of life. People think if we do miss out, we'll get it next time around. Or we'll just go to the beach instead."

Leanne Layfields, executive officer for the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce, which regularly sells out its business networking events which can be notoriously difficult, said getting commitments to attend was about reputation and information.

She said the Chamber's events had gained a good reputation as informative and value for money and members were kept well-informed about what was coming up.

Coast diners could be more clued up on booking than music fans.

Restaurant owner Michae Mulhearne, owner of Tides Waterfront Dining at Caloundra, said bookings were not generally a problem at his restaurant because it was popular with people wanting to celebrate special occasions, who therefore tended to book.

But he said he could imagine other more restaurants with a more casual vibe being subject to the fluctuations of walk-in customers.

He said there were occasionally problems with customers not keeping bookings - a table of 12 failed to materialise on the weekend - which could cost a restaurant not only in lost trade but wages and preparation.

Restaurants might ask for credit card details or a deposit for occasions like Mother's Day, Father's Day or New Year's Eve, where they would be turning customers away, but he could not see it becoming the norm on the Coast, he said

Scott Braby, venue coordinator at The J at Noosa Junction, said the willingness of audiences to book varied with events but incentives such as discounts were sometimes offered to encourage early bookings.

If the carrot does not work on Coast ticket buyers, they might have to get used to the stick.

Competition for tickets from people from elsewhere is increasing which might mean casual Coasters miss out on tickets.

Mr Pico said 70% of tickets to this year's sold out Big Pineapple Music Festival were booked by out-of-towners and the trend was similar in 2013 when the event also sold out

"We were saying it's going to sell out, make sure you get in and people were saying bullshit, bullshit and hey, it sold out."