Cashless, ticketless events made possible by MIFARE® 6. August 2015

Music festivals and other kinds of outdoor concerts are big business. There are more than 3,000 music festivals each year in Europe alone, and the live music industry for the E.U. and the U.S. is estimated to be worth at least $46 billion. Tickets are the biggest revenue generator, but onsite sales of beverages, food, and merchandise, are also a significant source of revenue.

Festival goers represent, by some estimates, about 80 million loyal fans in North American and Europe. The audience is, by and large, teenagers and twenty-somethings, but a number of pre-teens and even young children also attend, accompanied by their parents. All in all, it’s a significant market, covering a broad-section of young-minded, tech-savvy people who enjoy large-scale social experiences.

Managing attendees, staff, and purchases

Putting on an event that welcomes thousands of people is a big job. Attendees want an enjoyable, interactive experience, without having to wait in lines, and festival managers need to manage staffing to ensure everything goes smoothly. Also, using cash at the venue can be an issue for festival-goers and managers alike. Carrying cash can be risky, given pickpockets and other thieves, and it can be frustrating to run out if there aren’t any cash machines near the event or onsite. Accepting cash can be costly, too, since employees can skim profits, and there can be fees associated with transporting, depositing, and insuring cash transactions. Overall, the true cost of supporting cash can be as high as 15%.

Toward ticketless, cashless events

To streamline operations, reduce costs, and provide a better audience experience, more and more events are doing away with cash, and even eliminating paper tickets. They key ingredient is MIFARE®, the contactless proximity ICs found in public transport, electronic IDs, payment cards, and more.

MIFARE ICs come in a range of form factors, from wristbands and key fobs to stickers and photo IDs, or as part of an app on a smartphone. Used at several points throughout the event, MIFARE products can make music festivals and other large-scale venues more fun for the audience, and more cost-effective for the organizer.

MIFARE products provides a long list of benefits
 to attendees and event managers alike

What MIFARE products can do for an Event

    Wristbands, and other form factors used as access passes, can be configured for small or large-scale events, and can be renewed for use at multiple sites. Wristbands can also be mailed in advance, via regular mail, without extra insurance of special tracking, and can be registered online by the attendee, before the event. Built-in security features make MIFARE IC-based tickets harder to counterfeit, and make it easier to spot fraud. A tap is all it takes to enter the venue, so the lines are shorter and move more quickly. Attendees can receive a personal greeting upon entry, and festival-goers can have premium, paid-for access to fast-track lanes and other special services onsite, including private toilets, showers, and club rooms. MIFARE products provide an accurate, real-time view of how many people are onsite and in which areas. Also, MIFARE products´ seamless integration with other functions, like payment and social media, can serve to increase convenience and foster customer loyalty.
    Attendees can top up their card or wristband online, before the event, and can retrieve any leftover cash afterwards. Payments go quickly, with authorization averaging between 2 and 4 seconds, so there’s less waiting in line and a single retail outlet can serve more people. Studies show that people tend to spend more when they don’t use cash, and having a payment card makes it easier to initiate group purchases and participate in loyalty and reward schemes. Purchases can be confirmed with an SMS message, so there’s no need for paper receipts, and people can check their balances using fixed or mobile devices. A single card or wristband is easier to handle, and less likely to get lost or stolen, than a wad of cash or a pile of coins. Event management can use fixed or handheld PoS terminals, for greater flexibility, and there’s complete transparency and control over all spending and merchant activity. MIFARE products help reduce operational costs, and make it so there’s fewer accounting discrepancies, and fewer opportunities for employee theft.
    Social media offers a powerful and cost-effective way to manage customer relationships, giving event managers new ways to forge a bond with the consumer, increase loyalty, and entice a larger pool of their friends and community-members to visit the event. Connecting wristbands to the wearer’s social media accounts bridges the physical and digital worlds, and lets fans interact with attractions at the event, or post memorable experiences online. Management can identify “influencer” fans, targeting them with special offers, and can initiate follow-on possibilities for after the event. With MIFARE products, the marketing costs go down, while market intelligence goes up, and there’s increased value to all participating brands.
    Gathering even simple pieces of information, like age and sex, gives insight into the audience and helps build better customer relationships. Event managers can tailor events to audience preferences, target new customers more effectively, increase fan loyalty, and attract more visitors, and that in turn makes the event more attractive to sponsors and commercial partners. Targeted offers, sent before, during, and after the event can increase engagement and boost revenue, and tracking the responses to those offers can help management plan new ones more effectively. MIFARE products make it easier to measure the return on investment for promotional activities and campaigns, so the next event can be even better, and even more lucrative.
    ID cards or wristbands, worn by onsite staff and personnel, make it possible to know the location and movements of everyone working the festival at all times. This can reduce the response times for onsite emergency staff, and enables control of an unlimited number of different areas, with varying access rights. The system can support time restrictions, to prevent access during off hours, and access rights can be issued, changed, or updated at any time. Tracking services can also be made available to attendees, so parents can always know where their kids are, and people attending in groups can find each other easily.

Gaining momentum

As more event organizers begin using MIFARE product solutions at their venues, and more audience members experience the benefits of MIFARE ICs, the concept of ticketless, cashless events is gaining momentum. The idea is catching on at music festivals, but at other large-scale events, too, such as sporting events, amusement parks, and just about anywhere large groups of people gather together to have fun and share experiences.