Touchless ticketing and payment options, while not new, have garnered renewed interest among venues and fans as a result of the pandemic as both a safety and a convenience measure. These technologies generally require the use of a wristband that is sent to event attendees in advance of an event or distributed upon arrival at the venue. Fans can then add funds to their account or directly link their payment methods and tickets (depending on the system) to speed up entry and transactions throughout the event.
As in-person events return in 2021 and beyond, fans can expect increased availability of touchless and cashless tech. “I think people are definitely much more interested in cashless and RFID tech because it allows for less exchange between staff and customers,” says Stas Chijik, CEO of Billfold. Venues and partners that were previously comfortable with their cash-only operations are now coming back to Billfold to set up cashless systems in preparation for their first post-Covid events.
Reshad Hossenally, CSO of Festicket and Founder of Event Genius, notes that his company has experienced a similar trend: “We’ve had a lot of new and existing partners enquire about our cashless solution given the obvious hygiene benefits it has. We predicted this would play a large part in the ‘return to live’ after the pandemic – a survey we did said 70% of event-goers would be more confident in attending an event if it was cashless – so we have been investing heavily in our egPay solution throughout the past year.”
The benefits afforded by cashless tech are hard to ignore. From a health and safety perspective, Hossenally points out that they not only reduce points of contact – and potential transmission – between fans and staff, but they also help reduce lines and improve traffic flow throughout the venue by speeding up transactions.
He adds that “an understated but arguably crucial benefit is the simple act of reassurance.” By implementing a cashless system, you are reassuring your staff and eventgoers that your event is taking health and safety seriously.
Beyond the Covid protections that they offer, cashless options are simply convenient. “I've seen how people really easily move on from the pandemic and just want the things that they had before,” notes Chijik. “And they want their service fast – that's the number one thing.” By enabling faster and easier transactions, cashless technology also tends to lead to increased spending.
“Attendees are spending more than ever,” says Chijik. “We did an event in Austin, and they saw a 79% increase in revenue compared to their 2019 numbers. We're hitting record numbers for everything that we’re doing now. Part of it is because people have been locked up for a while and are excited to go out. But we do make it extremely easy for them to spend, so they end up spending more.”
That said, the transaction speed also presents some logistical challenges that organizers will need to address in order to ensure a smooth experience for fans. “It is true that with a cashless system, bar staff and servers will serve eventgoers quicker than beer will pour from a tap,” explains Hossenally, “so there is a need to ensure event organizers are looking into ways to speed up their entire bar operations. An example is having a group of staff pre-pour popular drinks in order to reduce the time between the transaction and product delivery.”
In the future, Hossenally says that “the possibilities are pretty much endless. Integrating the ticketing, access control and payment elements of an event into one smooth mobile experience is vitally important. On top of that, being able to add into the mix things like brand activations and other interactive touch points at events and festivals is really interesting and something that can bring real added value.”
In addition, Chijik shares that Billfold will help enable in-seat ordering, and that his company is also working on integrating facial recognition technology, which he believes is the direction that contactless and cashless is going to go.
“My vision was always that there doesn't need to be any friction around payments when you want to get something you want,” he says. “In an ideal world, the customer walks up, places their order, the order is made, they grab it, and then they walk away. So that's really the way that I see this all working, and we're working to make that a reality.”