NFC Enhancing Events & Leisure
by Artie Beavis
Losing your wallet, scrambling through crowds, waiting in extremely long lines for beer, or simply lacking the accessibility to check-in or upload to Facebook – just some of the endless quandaries one may encounter while at a festival, theme park or any leisure event. All of these can be simply avoided via the implementation of NFC technology. People thrive on convenience, simplicity and interaction, all of which event organizers strive to offer its attendees. NFC goes far beyond mobile payments; it truly brings together the digital and physical worlds to provide streamlined processes and intuitive exchanges in ways never experienced before. Having the option to discard physical items, such as cash or tickets, is steadily gaining traction throughout the world; instead, an NFC-enabled wristband (or a smartcard) for event goers will now do the trick.
The integration of NFC into mobile devices, wristbands and smart cards permits consumers to easily opt-in to receive dynamic, personalized content and services from brands. We are talking about interactive, real-time services with intent never before seen. This contactless phenomenon has sparked the interest of event organizers everywhere and has commenced serving as a catalyst for the sports, entertainment and leisure realms, ranging from e-ticketing and cashless payment to social networking. Think about it: Less holding and finding, more receiving and doing.
Today, a host of event vendors are now equipped to accept contactless payments via NFC stickers affixed to the back of mobile devices or through means of a chip-embedded wristband. At popular, highly-visited music festivals, ticketholders are now being given the unprecedented option of loading up “cash” on their wrist, which is later deactivated at completion of festival with the remaining unused amount reloaded to the owner’s credit or debit card account. Then Disney World, one of the most renowned tourist locations in the world, has recently unveiled plans to roll out a FastPass system employing RFID technology and iPads to accelerate the ticketing queues. And NFC is now even “touching” upon Upper East Side socialites, where just weeks ago, Tagstand distributed several NFC-enabled wristbands to 3,500-something guests at the black-tie opening night Gala at the New York Public Library, literally synching both their physical and digital social worlds. Needless to say, in correlation with its budding popularity, NFC is appearing more frequently, becoming an attraction of its own.
The opening night Gala at the New York Public Library offered nearly 30,000 different cocktails, created by over 150 different bartenders – this going to show why “liking” a particular cocktail came in handy. By “liking” a cocktail, guests were able to receive drink recipes via a personalized email. Using their wristbands, these Gala enthusiasts could tap to either tweet, post pictures to Facebook timelines or register for “likes” for the cocktails they were consuming.
In order to allow this come to fruition, guests were issued NFC-enabled bracelets, and then instructed to tap the NFC readers positioned atop each bar. From here, guests had the ability to synch the bracelet to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, enabling them to automatically upload pictures at the party’s web-connected photo booths, check-in on Facebook, and tweet by merely tapping touch-points on the library walls.
Furthermore, smartposters were strategically positioned throughout the event, offering guests the unprecedented opportunity to enter raffles via a simple tap of their NFC-enabled wristband.
Imagine if you could book appointment times for your rides, meet and greets with your favorite Disney characters, and other popular park attractions weeks to months before your vacation even begins. Recently announced, the “Happiest Place on Earth” may soon become one of the most “RFID-Friendly Place on Earth” as well. That is because Disney is set to
rollout a new FastPass system employing RFID technology and iPads to expedite the ticketing process. Guests will select and receive a list of the FastPass attractions they’ve chosen. They will then be granted an RFID wristband to wave by scanners, each of which are specifically designed for the new FastPass, in order to check-in upon arrival to the ride. The wristbands are embedded with RFID chips, which allows for your identity and data to be encrypted directly on it, thus acting as your park ticket.
This “NextGen” concept has been rumored to include the names, credit card information and favorite attraction data ahead of vacationers’ arrivals.
According to Disney Projects, when the guests arrive at the ride at their reserved time, they will wave their RFID band by a sensor, which sends their reservation information to a nearby cast member’s iPad. The RFID-based system is expected to replace the existing system of distributing paper FastPass tickets with a digital format that lets people bypass long queues and indicates when they can enter a ride or a show.
Additionally, the RFID capabilities of the wristband would communicate with sensors deployed throughout the parks and resorts, which can then trigger interactive features. Envision yourself walking up to Space Mountain, where you are then greeted by name. One of the interactive places ever may soon become even more interactive.
Barclays Wireless Festival, Coachella Music Festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Bonnaroo Festival, Electric Zoo, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury Festival are just some of the events that recently deployed or have considered RFID technology. Microchipping the wrists of fans alleviates a host of common problems for attendees – from losing wallets in the mud, trying to locate ATM machines, exchanging or uploading social media data, tracking people and possessions, etc. Other benefits of wristbands from the organizers’ perspective include expediting fast-track entry, VIP upgrades and offering access to various perks and accommodations.
In the UK’s first cashless event, the Wireless Festival will provide event-goers with NFC-enabled wristbands to ‘wave and pay’ for goods, significantly downsizing line times for food, memorabilia and most of all, alcohol. This is not going to be the only British music festival rolling out NFC wristbands this summer, as an emerging number of organizers have
developed an acquired taste in the convenience and ease of this contactless technology.
At last month’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, 30,000 fans signed up to ‘live click’ throughout the event, commencing a new era and digital age in social media. Using RFID-enabled bands, registered ticket holders were able to check-in, update their status on Facebook, in addition to having the availability to a collection of other individualized options tailored to each respective guest, thus enhancing their event experience. Via various ‘touch points’ located throughout the grounds, registered guests automatically ‘checked-in’ upon arrival.
Wristbands such as these provide enhanced e-ticketing, cashless payment and access control, subsequently reducing lines and eliminating fraudsters, providing secure and speedy payments, and boosting the overall fan experience.
In terms of tracking guests, checkpoint zones are set up to track what zone an attendee has just exited and entered, theoretically placing them in a zone at a specific time and place. This allows for event organizers to track traffic flows to enhance planning for succeeding festivals. It also provides means of assistance when it comes to theft and other forms of crime.
Clothing retailer, Gap, has just recent completed an NFC-based marketing campaign at its two flagship stores in Tokyo. Customers had to initially register online via the company’s website, where they were then given a bracelet in-store. After picking up the bracelet at the register, the customer had the ability to walk around the store and check out the various
staff members’ outfits. Once the customer found one they liked, he or she then could simply “high-five” the model by touching the NFC-enabled bracelet to the model’s phone. The week-long campaign had put the two stores against one another in a competition to determine who could create the best outfit.
Quickly approaching, the sporting world’s largest global competition will showcase contactless technology to its millions of attendees. Samsung and Visa have announced the installation of over 3,000 terminals on the Olympic grounds to coincide with its official payment app, “payWave.”
Visitors will be granted the option to use NFC to purchase snacks and memorabilia. Consumers throughout London will be granted the opportunity to experience NFC, to become educated on it, and fingers crossed, will help facilitate the speedy universal adoption of the technology in the near future.
More on this in weeks to come…Stay tuned.
Editors note: At OTA Training’s next NFC Bootcamp in Sydney, Australia, August 15 and 16th, Dave Cunningham of Tapit will be showcasing the power and ease of NFC-enabled wristbands to raffle off new NFC-enabled phones, courtesy of Samsung. Register now for this exlusive event.
About the Author:
As President & Founder of RTB Social, Artie Beavis possesses extensive social media, marketing and NFC know-how with experience and a proven track record across a breadth of verticals. Prior to launching his own Connecticut-based digital marketing agency, he served as Social Media & Marketing Manager for Identive Group. There, he single-handedly architected and implemented the company’s market-leading social initiatives and assisted in a number of marketing campaigns, many of them involving the company’s latest NFC solutions. He has written several blog posts and articles throughout the industry on the future of NFC, its relationship to social media as well as the current shift in the marketing landscape via contactless deployment. Incorporating his passion and knowledge in the NFC arena, his social media agency aspires to facilitate the implementation in the marketing world and bring the digital world to life. Prior to Identive, Artie held multiple social media and account director roles within the hospitality and marketing realms. He studied Sports Management at New York University before earning a B.S. in Sports & Hospitality Management from Lynn University.