Bunbury uses new technology to speed up entry process and on-site purchases

The Bunbury Music Festival returns to Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove June 3-5 as a ticketless and cashless festival. New wristband technology is geared to improving on-site experiences for those who will cram the riverfront to see The Killers, Florence & the Machine, Deadmau5, Ice Cube and other acts.
“The first day of Bunbury last year, the entrance process was a mess,” says Marissa Luther, Marketing Director for PromoWest Productions, which produces Bunbury. “It was a priority for us to ensure we get people in as quickly as possible so that no one misses a band they want to see. We can’t change the layout of the festival, so we needed to do something about ticketing.”
PromoWest was approached by several companies that offer ticketless and cashless systems for some of the biggest festivals in the country. The Columbus-based company chose to work with Intellitix, which handles music festivals such as Coachella and Bonnaroo as well as events like the Telluride Film Festival and the Ryder Cup.
“Other major festivals have implemented this technology over the last few years,” Luther says. “We wanted to be on the cutting edge of smaller scale festivals adopting this. If we get everyone trained and educated on the system this year, we’ll be ready as the technology advances.”
For the inaugural year, Bunbury will be focusing on ticketless entry and cashless payments.
All ticket buyers — from VIP to three-day to single day, whether buying in advance or on-site — will receive a radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled wristband as their “ticket.” Prior to entering the festival, Bunbury fans will register the wristband online either through their existing Facebook and Twitter accounts or by creating a unique user login.
Over the Bunbury weekend, instead of gatekeepers scanning physical tickets, attendees will enter the festival though portals that will read the RFID wristband for entry, streamlining and speeding up the process.
“Three-day ticket holders must wear the wristband for all three days,” Luther says. “They are waterproof and are made to take a little bit of a beating, so they should hold up pretty well.”
The wristbands will also be used for all payments on Bunbury grounds. Festival-goers who want to buy a beer, a sandwich or a T-shirt must add money to their RFID account in order to make purchases.
“The festival has always been cash only, which has been difficult in the credit card age,” Luther says. “With the RFID wristbands, Bunbury can now be cashless. So no more volunteers stuffing aprons with cash. It’s safer for the vendors and helps them track sales trends.”
Each Bunbury vendor will have its own account, not only to reconcile payments but also to monitor inventory. In addition, vendors will be able to look at the timing of purchases and popular items, which will help them adjust stock and staffing over the weekend.
Festival-goers should also find the cashless experience easier to manage, as ATM lines will be eliminated, vendors won’t run out of change and wallets won’t end up stuffed with singles. Plus the RFID technology allows groups to coordinate accounts.
“If you’re coming to Bunbury with your family, you can link those accounts together,” Luther says. “So you don’t have to spend the entire day with your teenagers, you can add money to their account remotely through the browser on your mobile phone or you can do it through the Bunbury app.”
Festival-goers can also add funds to their accounts at top-up stations located around the grounds. The stations will accept cash, credit cards or debit payments.
“We’re recommending people use credit cards to load their wristbands,” Luther says. “When the festival is over, you’ll get any remaining funds credited back to your account within 24 hours. If you pay with cash, you have to wait for a check to come in the mail, which will take seven to 10 days.”
Intellitix staff will be on-grounds the entire weekend to handle any issues with the wristbands.
Although it isn’t being used this year at Bunbury, the RFID technology allows for interaction with Facebook and Twitter, including check-ins, posting and alerts. Those features will be included at future events.
“PromoWest has three festivals this year,” Luther says. “Bunbury is the first, and we’ll improve the whole process over this summer. Next summer we hope to be able to implement some of the more fun interactive features the RFID wristbands allow. We just want to make sure that this summer that we’re as efficient as possible with entry and cashless payments.”

Read more articles by Julie Carpenter.

Julie Carpenter has a background in cultural heritage tourism, museums, and nonprofit organizations. She's the Executive Director of AIA Cincinnati.  
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