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Why technology needs teamwork for festival success

With festival season now upon us, Jason Thomas, CEO of Tappit, writes on the importance of ensuring new event technology is supported by human expertise

12 Jun 2019

Jason Thomas, Tappit

Festivals pride themselves on the all-encompassing experience they provide fans, transporting attendees into an entirely new world over the course of a few days. The widespread integration of technology at festivals in recent years has been revolutionary in transforming the festival experience for fans and allowing them to become more immersed than ever before, while also making it a more seamless experience from start to finish.

For organisers, new technologies have also opened the door to data-based insights that have never been actionable before. Whether it’s via chatbots or RFID wristbands, technology is making it possible for organisers to analyse the habits of attendees in order to personalise and curate an experience around their needs and desires.

These unique insights have never been more important for event organisers. Competition is higher than ever due to the ease of access to festivals all over the world and tans’ expectations are higher than ever. Organisers can’t afford to fall at any hurdles or be left trailing behind the rest of the industry.

It’s easy for eager event organisers to get lured into implementing complex technologies on the promise that they will catapult festivals into another realm. However, there is often a misconception that implementing new technologies will remove the necessity for human resource. This is rarely the case: technology is only truly successful with the guidance of human expertise. New technologies can only be implemented effectively with good training, support and a strong relationship between organisers and their technology partners.

When a piece of vital technology fails to function properly, the reputational damage it can cause events can take years to put right

Select your partners carefully
Before choosing a technology partner, you first need to understand what you want to achieve and how it’ll benefit your short and long-term goals as a festival. There are countless innovations that can help elevate festivals and improve the overall experience for attendees, but it’s important to consider who will be there to support you during the integration of the technology. Take the time to look at their credentials, expertise and how much guidance they can provide – don’t just go for the cheapest option, go for the option that best aligns with your vision.

When enhancing the festival experience with new technologies, adequate support must be there to support and guide implementation. Take the time to choose a vendor that provides holistic support as well as industry leading expertise and guidance to ensure seamless integration of new technologies. Inevitably, there will be hiccups to overcome; however, with the support and foresight of the right partner, it will cause minor repercussions for attendees.

Adequate support must be there to support and guide implementation

The importance of education
Education is an incredibly important element of the planning, and the implementation process needs to extend well beyond the immediate festival team to include safety and security staff, external food suppliers and even customers themselves.

If integrating RFID technology, for example, organisers must align with all external vendors to make sure they have enough time to familiarise themselves with the new devices and payment process. A pitfall of many organisers is sacrificing a thorough education process, thinking that it’ll take up too much time or be too costly. The reality is that for most, it can be integrated and rolled out with minimal friction. Sharing a step-by-step guide and providing hands-on training sessions on how the technology functions are fundamental, but teaching operators about what to do if the technology should fail is also imperative.

When a piece of vital technology fails to function properly, the reputational damage it can cause events can take years to put right. By putting clear processes in place, outlining how to continue serving the attendees the best they can, the impact on the customer will be minimised. When forming a new relationship with providers, event organisers need to ensure that a crisis plan is in place and ready to implement if something were to go wrong. Communication is vital, so having this in place beforehand will ensure a unified and seamless response.

technology is only truly successful with the guidance of human expertise

Use your insights to learn and review
The attraction of having access to data insights is being able to tailor future events to the demands and behaviours of real attendees. It’s important to closely examine these insights to make strategic decisions based on data, not gut feel. Previously, organisers would have had to predict what the demands on capacity will be at specific times and dates. However, new technologies, such as cashless systems, can collect and provide data on queuing times at particular food and drink stands. This can help organisers with future location planning and also help vendors analyse which food and drink items are most popular so they can ensure that supplies don’t run low.

In addition, data provides a great opportunity for organisers to learn about their fans’ behaviour and as such, market relevant offers personalised to each attendee. The long-term benefits of this behaviour are huge, both in cost effectiveness and in retaining long term customer relationships.

Technology can help support festivals, match fans’ evolving expectations and provide a more seamless and enjoyable experience for both organisers and attendees. By working together closely with experienced technology vendors, educating festival staff on new systems, and utilising existing technology available effectively, organisers can provide memorable experiences (for all the right reasons) to their customers throughout the festival period and beyond.

 


Jason Thomas is CEO of cashless payment specialist Tappit.