RFID technology making waves at UK events


In July this year, Wakestock, a popular wakeboarding and music festival in North Wales became the first festival in the UK to issue every one of its 15,000 ticket holders with an RFID wristband. The wristbands are no different from the ones commonly used at events, but they’re fitted with a small micro-chip that uses radio frequency technology to communicate with hand-held readers or access gates.

Similar to a turnstIle, but without any physical blockade, RFID entrance gates admit guests by reading their wristbands. With no necessary contact needed, RFID-enabled wristbands are recognised by a reader and using a serial number or unique combination can, on some platforms, unlock an individual’s ticket information from a database.

Using the technology in a green field site or in a fixed venue, opens up a myriad of potential benefits and new revenue streams for managers. Transforming a necessary form of identification, whether it be a wristband, laminate pass or ID card into an RFID-enabled one, allows for far greater security, reduced queues, real-time attendance stats and the opportunity to save on operational costs.

Cashless payments

Perhaps the most talked-about platform for which RFID technology can support is cashless or ‘contactless’ payments. The technology can give venue operators greater control over revenue during events, eliminating accounting discrepancies and saving costs associated with handling cash.

Attendees will benefit from shorter queues at the bar and a secure and more convenient way to spend.

Back in June, the Isle of Wight Festival followed a successful trial in 2011 with a site-wide roll out of cashless payment technology using RFID wristbands. The wristbands were offered to all of the 55,000 fans on a first-come-first-serve basis. Over 10,000 revelers took part, signing up for a ‘pre-paid’ wristband that allowed them to purchase food and drink around the festival with a tap of the wrist.

The new system was well received by festival-goers and traders, the latter still having the chance to adopt the cashless payment method after the event had begun.

Similarly, this year’s Wireless festival in London, issued around 15,000 fans with an RFID wristband capable of cashless transactions.

Social Media Integration

RFID devices give venues and events the chance to take ticket-holder relationships deeper than ever before. By connecting with guests via social media before, after and during a live event, organisers and sponsors can utilise RFID technology to extend brand messages across the digital world.

At the aforementioned Wakestock festival, fans who opted-in to link their Facebook accounts with their RFID wristbands, automatically posted to their online profiles when accessing the festival and had the chance to enter competitions and play games that in-turn pushed messages to their Facebook profiles.

This type of social integration is proven to generate around 1,000 impressions each time a person interacts via an RFID platform.

It’s fair to say the event landscape is changing and there are an array of new ways for venue owners and event organisers to enhance their events and get closer to their customers. Those that fear RFID are likely to be left in the past, whereas any who embrace it could be part of an exciting future.

ID&C have supplied over 1 million RFID-enabled wristbands and other ID devises to events around the world.

For more information contact rfid@idcband.co.uk

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