RFID for festivals and festivalgoers

Why Your Festival Needs To Use Wristbands

Vendini Festivals, Operations, RFID, Security, Working Smarter

If I had collected a ticket from every Widespread Panic show I’ve been to, I would have 114 tickets. No joke.

But sadly, I don’t have a cool stack of tickets fanned out on display to remind me of all those good times. Why? Because the majority of these tickets were bought online. And more often than not, I was simply pulling them up on my phone to get in. And even if I did print out a ticket, there’s no way I’m going to save something I printed at home and waded up in my pocket. It just isn’t as cool as having a physical ticket.

On the flip side, festival Super Fans like Tucker Gumber (aka The Festival Guy), collected 30 wristbands (which he then made into a hat) from attending festivals over the past 5 years. And that’s just a fraction of his wristband potential; he’s been to a total of 91 festivals. That’s 343 days of festivals. Wow.

Tucker Gumber's festival headband

The Wristband: so much more than a ticket

Wristbands have become synonymous with festivals and are quickly being adopted by all types of festivals across the globe. Wristbands make perfect sense for festivals for so many reasons – the biggest being that a physical ticket for a multiple-day festival is simply a pain in the ass to hold on to.

If you aren’t using wristbands, you’re already falling behind. There are just too many benefits to not be using them. So what are these benefits, you ask?

the wristband more than a ticket

Photo courtesy of Festivalando

How wristbands enhance the fan experience

Festivals are highly aesthetic experiences. On top of seeing multiple shows (or movies, artists or whatever it is you’re at the festival to see), the event itself is a bit of a spectacle – food trucks, tents, sculptures and art installations and some pretty amazing people watching. And wristbands pack a big punch in a small package. For fans, these wristbands, are way more than just a ticket — they deliver several added benefits that might not seem obvious off the bat.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival RFID box

Anticipation creates excitement, buzz and FOMO

The excitement and anticipation of an upcoming festival is a bit like the days leading up to Christmas morning or Halloween. In the same way that the big party stores are marketing their costumes to kids, festivals can tease fans with lineups, sell pre-announcement tickets, announce artists in waves and even hold pre-festival contests, giveaways and other promotional events.

Sending wristbands in advance enables fans to have a physical and emotional connection to your festival. And just like presents under the tree signal it’s almost Christmas, those wristbands create excitement and signal the beginning of a good time.

Several of our Members (like Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion) send wristbands to fans in unique, custom boxes to create excitement and become their badge of honor that they blast out on social media. And fans actually are posting pictures that might as well read, “I’m a die-hard fan, I already have my wristband and this awesome box. Be jealous.”

Instagram post so excited for Bristol Rhythm & Roots festival

Memorabilia that keeps them coming back

You don’t see people printing out their online tickets and making collages out of them and mounting it like art on their wall for all to admire. But you do see fans doing some very interesting things with their festival wristbands. Everything from keychains, to sewing them into clothes, to wearing them in their dreads… the fun doesn’t stop when the festival ends.

The fact remains that fans are wearing these wristbands for days, weeks and even months after festivals have ended. Not only as a shining badge of honor that reads, “I’m a die-hard fan. I went to this awesome festival. Be jealous,” but it also is a nice piece of memorabilia to remind them of the festival, the friends they made, the new experiences they had and the awesome music or art they saw.

RFID wristbands creative pants

Photo credit: Festivalando

Peace of mind builds loyalty

Paper tickets printed at home have a nasty habit of finding their way out of your pockets when you’re at a festival. “Are the tickets in the tent? Try the car!” And what if it starts dumping rain? A printed ticket can disintegrate right before your eyes in the rain, especially after it’s been living in your pocket for days.

Wristbands have a “set it and forget it” feel; fans can simply put them on and for the next three days never have to worry about keeping track of their tickets. This might seem small, but not having to worry about lost or stolen tickets will alleviate some serious headaches for both you and your patrons. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re preoccupied. No one goes back to a festival they didn’t enjoy.

A ticket to shorter lines

For a number of reasons, wristbands are helping festivals everywhere cut down on their lines. From technology like RFID to the ability to visually check someone’s access level within seconds (VIP, artist, media, etc), checking a wristband simply takes less time than checking a paper ticket. That means less waiting time and more party time for your patrons. And who doesn’t want more party time? (Answer: no one!)

Party Time

How wristbands help your business

Now on to the really good stuff! While wristbands provide tons of value to festival attendees, the real power comes from what you as the festival-thrower can get out of it.

Extend your brand with miniature, walking billboards

This is one of the more obvious benefits of having wristbands at your festival, but a huge benefit. Every second your patrons wear your festival’s wristband, and every picture they take while wearing it, extends your brand’s reach.

Take the opportunity to create your own custom wristband to extend your brand. Stick to your color themes. You can even work with a local artist to help cross promote for the festival and give your wristband that added bit of customization.

RFID festival wristbands on wrist

Open the floodgates for cool tech and unprecedented data

Festivals are becoming more and more creative and adventurous with the technology they’re using. Things like mobile cell phone towers and WIFI that keep everyone connected are becoming more commonplace. But that’s just the beginning. Fun and useful tech is on the rise. Cool drones that soar over festival crowds taking pictures, video and even dropping off cold drinks are just the beginning of what innovations lay in store for festivals.

And being cool isn’t the only reason for festivals to implement new technology. There are real business benefits and value. Wristbands are a great way to take advantage of awesome tech like RFID, which is a small chip that can be activated by a scanner.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots RFID scan

RFID wristbands not only speed up entry for patrons, but they also unlock a treasure trove of data for those putting on the festival — peak gate hours, movement around the festival… the functionality and data these wristbands can collect is incredibly robust. Vendini has implemented RFID technology for several of our Festival Members, and if you’re interested in learning more you can tune in to our upcoming webinar on RFID later this month.

Create additional promotion on social media

Earlier in the post I mentioned our Members who sent their wristbands out to fans in customized boxes. These boxes, along with the actual wristbands, evoke a “this is real!” feeling for attendees. This pre-festival excitement generates buzz on social media with pictures and videos of the wristbands and boxes, and — especially before your festival — this additional buzz and social media chatter can lead to more ticket sales. Check out this great shout out Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion got:

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival Instagram social media buzz

Stronger, more effective security to easily identify the good and the bad

Security is one of the most important aspects of every festival. Wristbands immediately decrease fraud (it’s quite hard to fake an intricately woven cloth wristband) and also help cut down on passbacks (guests entering a festival with a ticket, then passing back that ticket for a friend to use). And since most wristbands come with a plastic synch that can’t be removed once tightened, there is far less chance of wristbands needing to be replaced (as opposed to lost or stolen tickets).

Wristbands are also a great way to quickly get a visual identification on different types of patrons. A different color or style of band can let you know within seconds who is a VIP, an artist, vendor, volunteer or even a sponsor. This makes security’s job 10 times easier and they’re able to act faster when needed.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots security line

The key benefits of using wristbands at your festival

There’s an age-old saying, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” The most successful festivals in the world are already using wristbands. And there’s good reason. Again, here are the most important reasons why you should be using wristbands for your festival.

For Fans:

  1. Anticipation creates excitement, buzz and FOMO
  2. Memorabilia that keeps them coming back
  3. Peace of mind builds loyalty
  4. Shorter lines

For Festivals:

  1. Extend your brand with miniature, walking billboards
  2. Open the floodgates for cool tech and unprecedented data
  3. Create additional promotion on social media
  4. Stronger, more effective security to easily identify the good and the bad

Wristbands give your festival the added boost it deserves. They enable kick-ass festival experiences for you and fans. They become lasting pieces of memorabilia that will continue to promote your festival long after its initial use.

If you’re interested in learning more about implementing wristbands for your festival, and especially RFID wristbands, join us for our free webinar on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 with Vendini’s Head of Festival Solutions, Robby Black, and Festival Marketing Manager Katherine Hunt.