What are some of the key business benefits events organisers can get from using RFID technology?
Since 2011, over seven million people have interacted with RFID technology at the world’s best festivals and events, including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, Tomorrowland, The Ryder Cup, and Taste Food Festivals.
RFID wristbands are widely recognised as event security devices but they are also now being used to support projects, brand activations and social media campaigns. In fact, ID&C – the frontrunner in supplying RFID products – have supplied their products and services to over 200 events in 25 countries on five continents.
RFID technology has the potential to transform and enhance the festival experience, so why aren’t more events embracing it? Some organisers are worried about issues around data capture, while others worry about the reliability and security of cashless payments. But once you explore the many benefits of RFID, it’s hard to argue against it.
Data analysis benefits everyone
Through the use of RFID technology, event organisers benefit from real-time and post-event analytics including accurate visitor numbers and detailed reports of visitor-flow. Also, the nature of RFID systems will mean promoters can learn from data and react immediately. For example, if ‘tap-in’ devices show that there is a sudden surge of people at a particular stage or attraction, increased security personnel can be deployed to that area. Brand sponsors can also use this information to boost their sales, moving mobile refreshment stands to the gigs with the most footfall – companies can increase sales and customers get the services and products they need more conveniently.
Data can also be used to create a more bespoke experience for wristband wearers. Depending on what information they supply at the registration phase, tailored music playlists, artist recommendations, etc. can be created to enhance their enjoyment.
But doesn’t this invade peoples’ privacy? That’s the type of question sceptics have been asking and an opinion some event organisers are using as a reason for not jumping on this truly useful innovation.
ID&C Head of RFID, Steve Daly, responds to concerns over data mining by saying: “Anybody who holds a debit card, credit card, has a bank account, uses a passport or holds information online is already exposed to this and has been for years.”
He also comments on the misconception that RFID is capable of tracking individuals: “RFID is used to provide access control, cashless vending and social media integration platforms. In order to do this you have to actively present your wristbands to readers or scanning devices. It does not do this without you actively soliciting the interaction. It cannot monitor you from afar. The reading distances are typically 3-5 centimetres. The technology is designed to be non-invasive and organisers are insisting on this too.”
Cashless concerts have their perks
2015 is expected to see RFID playing a pivotal role in cashless payments – with at least two major UK festivals taking the cashless payment plunge in 2015. It has already been tried and tested, with great success. In 2014, Mysteryland & TomorrowWorld convinced festival-goers to leave their cash at home and instead load up their RFID wristbands with dollars and euros.
There are many benefits to creating completely cashless events. Average transaction time is just 0.5 seconds and there is up to a 35% increase in spending when using wristband technology to pay. As there is no need to carry cash or credit cards, there is a reduced risk of theft or loss. Also, the less cash patrons carry, the less likely they are to be able to solicit drugs and take part in other undesirable activity.
Using RFID technology to control access at events can deliver a variety of benefits to organisers and ticket-holders, particularly eliminating fraud, touting and ‘pass-backs’. Of the festivals asked, 24% use RFID because it increases security. Also, 40% said it reduces entry times.
These two benefits are both very important at events, like Glastonbury, that attract a large number of families with children, because if a festival has increased security and makes the whole experience run more smoothly, it makes sense to assume more families will be attracted.
Social media integration and exposure
RFID technology gives event organisers and brand sponsors the opportunity to extend their digital reach. By linking RFID wristbands or passes with customers’ online social profiles, event organisers and brands can promote their event across the digital world. And rather than having to constantly post themselves or upload marketing activity, brands can rely on festival-goers to become brand advocates, projecting their experience to a like-minded online audience.
In 2013, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival used RFID to help attendees share “likes” and pictures of themselves on Facebook, upload music playlists to commercial music-streaming service provider Spotify, and post tweets on Twitter. This was made possible during the registration process where festival-goers had to include details about their online profiles in order to access various social media functions. By opting in, festival-goers could ‘tap in’ at ‘Live Click stations’ and immediately upload photos to Facebook, share a music playlist on Spotify or send a Tweet
Similarly at Coachella in 2014, RFID ‘hubs’ were installed next to various music stages where fans could ‘check-in’, which rewarded them with exclusive Spotify playlists. At the end of the festival, patrons were sent a digital postcard – ‘My Coachella Story’ – that showed all the data collected on them… basically summarising their activity and experience. This was then shared by fans on various social media platforms.
Raised brand and event awareness, improved safety and security, an even better experience for festival-goers and increased revenue for sponsors – which will attract further sponsors – are just a few reasons that RFID technology should be synonymous with festivals.