Festivals…More Tech than Techno

I was lucky enough to enjoy two sunny festivals in June, one that I was too old to be at (Field Day), but it was on my doorstep so it would have been rude not to, and Southport Weekender Festival, which wasn’t in Southport nor did it last a weekend, but that’s another story.  There were two standout experiences around these. The first was the level of security, from bins to surrender drugs before entering or face being handed over to the law if caught with them, to photo ID, bag searches, body scanners, body searches and sniffer dogs. I don’t mind this, and I suppose that regular festival goers feel this way too as it’s all part of the experience. So just like our digital experiences from brands we trust to hold our data, feeling safe or protected has become an essential part of the physical experiences provided by event promoters and they are doing their best to ensure this.

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The second experience was brilliant and involved RFID wristbands.  The festival organiser alerted me that it was going cashless and that RFID wristband would need to be loaded with cash credits to purchase food and drinks.  If I preloaded £50, I would get a free drink too, and any unspent cash could be reclaimed. I love a bit of retro tech, so they had me at RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).  I arrived at the festival collected my wristband using a QR code, and with a quick scan my wrist was loaded with £50 worth of food & fun. Eager to make my first purchase, I hurried to a bar, ordered a drink, held out my wrist for the bartender to zap me with a handheld device about the size of a mobile and like magic I could see my money disappearing before my eyes.  RFID is not a new technology it’s been around for years and is widely used in many industries and more commonly for tagging pets with the owner’s ID and electronic entry mechanism for cat flaps. What I love about this experience is that both QR codes and RFID technology have been around for decades but are still delivering amazing experiences, which I think is pretty cool.

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