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How better understanding fans can help festival brands recover from the pandemic

As the festival industry ramps up for the season, Tappit’s CRO Meka Morris has written an article for Advertising Week 360, explaining how cashless payment systems can help festivals to recover. Here’s the article in full.

With the majority of the world coming up on one year since last attending a concert or festival, it’s safe to say that attending live music events will be an activity that’s high up on many peoples’ post-pandemic to-do-lists.

Things are starting to look promising – New York has recently announced that major stadiums will be allowed to open this month with limited spectators. While this is great news, chances are, festival brands will have some concerns around opening up to fans again. This has been the longest period of time that certain live events have been shut down, and while various virtual events have resumed throughout the pandemic, it’ll be challenging for brands to engage the typical festival go-er as seamlessly as they have in the past. Simply put, there’s a lot of work to do in order to get there.

Through the utilization of cashless systems, festival brands will be able to understand their post-COVID-19 event attendees and master their approach to ensure they’re back on track.

While it’s disappointing that festivals and concerts haven’t been able to attempt hosting events in-person amid the pandemic like other industries, such as sports, it’s important to remember the struggles and lessons that various sports teams have learned throughout the process and how they’re essentially paving the way for other industries to successfully commence again.

Cashless systems are preferred among event attendees — it’s proven

Last autumn, Tappit conducted a survey with American sports fans regarding their comfort levels in returning to live games, how they have kept engaged with their favorite leagues and teams during COVID-19 and the precautions stadiums must put in place to make them feel safe. Over half of the respondents stated they would feel more comfortable if their team’s stadium implemented contactless payment options, and a whopping 74% of 18-24-year-olds would feel more comfortable using contactless payments. With live music following in the footsteps of sporting events, it’s important for festival brands to keep these stats in mind as they’re preparing logistics around kickstarting events — and the takeaway of all of this is to make sure cashless systems are part of the plan.

There are two main options to consider when choosing a cashless solution for festivals to help maximize safety, profits and provide incredible access to fan data — RFID solutions and white-label mobile payments.

RFID solutions to save the day

RFID, short for “Radio Frequency Identification,” is the first evolution of closed-loop cashless technology. It’s a solution that’s been popular at music festivals for years and is now the preferred route for an increasing number of industry verticals. Most commonly, RFID is used for venues and events through wristbands with an electronic chip and when participants, guests, and fans scan the chip, they pay for their drinks, food and merch immediately. RFID is the hero when WiFi connectivity is poor and device batteries get low, and even protects against theft and fraud.

Choosing the right RFID solution not only makes festival experiences, seamless, safe and easy — but by encouraging fans to preload, festival organizers can also improve cash flow by receiving the funds ahead of the event as well as understanding their anticipated budgets for the festival.

White label mobile wallets and how they can deliver results

Among the most utilized cashless systems by event, brands are white-label mobile solutions. A white label mobile solution allows an organization to have contactless payments, venue access control, loyalty and ticketing all in one mobile ecosystem. As it’s white-label, it has a company’s branding, is a frictionless experience for fans and all data collected as a result of transactions made in the app belong to the brand.

With a white-label mobile wallet, a company has the opportunity to partner and unlock huge new revenue opportunities for its business. A white label wallet provides the opportunity to deepen an existing relationship with a banking partner, or to create a completely new sponsorship category and marketing stream.

Banks and payment partners can create campaigns to ensure that their cards are in the “card-on-file position” for the mobile wallet. One of the best examples of this type of partnership was Capital One, which offered to pay half the monthly subscription fee to Spotify users who switched their monthly payment to a Capital One card.

The huge reason why cashless systems will power post-pandemic events

While most might assume that cashless systems primarily support a safer, cleaner future, this is true — but they have the ability to do so much more. When a fan makes a purchase, the data is gathered and traditionally goes to banks and credit card providers. However, by choosing the right cashless solution — i.e. one that provides the data to the event organizer, not the banks — going cashless provides not just a frictionless fan experience, but unprecedented data. It enables organizers to have a complete 360 view of the fan, their habits, preferences and behaviours.

This data drawn from cashless systems delivers a view into operational efficiencies, increases consumer spending and most importantly, gives a comprehensive view of each individual fan.

Real-time insights boost profits

It goes without saying that there are many uses for fans’ behavioural and purchasing data if the real-time insights are accessible. Boosting profits and driving spend can be done through targeted and timely messaging on site. For example, if beer sales are slowing — send a promotion to everyone who has bought one in the last 2 hours. Ensure sponsors gain incremental value by sharing new offers to fans who have engaged with their brand on site. Encourage fans to arrive earlier by building in rewards and vouchers to their cashless wallets.

Data ensures sustainability

It’s important that festival organizers appreciate that the data provided is not just of use during the festival — but ensures brand loyalty and gives promoters a chance to cross-sell other events and venues across the year. More festivals are happening than ever before, and people are happy to travel further for the right experience — so make sure to constantly communicate, engage and reward fans throughout the year in order to keep an event top of mind when it goes on sale.

Furthermore, by understanding fans’ preferences, it’s easier to incentivize them to purchase tickets to other events or return to the same venue for a different event around the year, through targeted marketing and communications.

There is also potential to extend marketing partnerships through the fan data and drive additional revenue. For example, if it’s understood that 40% of consumers only drank hard seltzer, that provides a valuable database for brands who wish to target that audience.

Final thoughts

With around 15.5 million people in the U.S. currently estimated to be fully vaccinated, and nearly all Americans suggested having access to vaccination by November, it’s unclear just when festival brands will have the green light to completely resume their shows. But with COVID-19 infection rates bound to decline as time progresses, festival brands should prepare to have their first show sooner rather than later with the potential for limited capacity guests, socially-distant events and other opportunities to rise in the meantime. By planning out logistics ahead and adopting cashless systems now, festival brands will be on their way to making their next event even more successful and enjoyable than ever.

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