Futureproofing festival wristbands: Dutchband Q&A
The festival wristband industry has seen significant innovation in recent years, as suppliers have incorporated payment solutions and anti-counterfeit measures, as well as experimenting with ever more sustainable and durable materials.
For over 17 years, Dutchband, the largest supplier of event wristbands and consumption tokens in the Netherlands, has provided fraud-resistant, user-friendly and efficient wristband and payment solutions to over 1,000 events worldwide.
IQ checks in with Dutchband managing director Michiel Fransen to discover how the company is keeping gatecrashers out and making products more eco-friendly, as well as finding out what lengths the team will go to in order to ensure speedy wristband delivery.
IQ: Can you give me a brief description of who Dutchband are and what work you do?
Michiel Fransen: Dutchband has been active in the wristband and cashless payment business for close to two decades. Initially started as one of the first companies to use digital printing technology for wristband production, we have also introduced other innovations such as our unique payment tokens, vending machines, point-of-sale (POS) terminals and, of course, our high security SealStation solution (pictured), a semi automatic machine that seals wristbands on fans safely, quickly and comfortably.
We are proud to work with many of the bigger festivals in Europe. Festivals like Solidays and Fete de l’Humanité in France, the UK’s Download and WeAreFSTVL, German festival Rock am Ring, Poland’s Open’er, Lowlands in the Netherlands, Paleo in Switzerland and the Defqon1 and Mysteryland franchises all have used our solutions for either access-control wristbands or cashless payment.
We have seen an influx of new kinds of festival wristbands entering the market in recent years. What sets Dutchband apart from other companies working in the sector?
We differentiate ourselves mainly by always looking for ways to improve on the products that are currently offered in the market. We do this not only in terms of the physical properties of the products themselves, but also by exceeding customer expectations when it comes to service and reliability as a supplier.
There are quite a few cases where festivals have contacted us just before, or even during an event, to arrange delivery of additional wristbands or payment tokens. We understand the importance of helping out our customers in these cases and will do everything to arrange timely delivery, even if it means that one of our team has to jump on a plane to do so.
In terms of new developments, what are the most exciting innovations that Dutchband has implemented in recent years?
What I’m really excited about is our new range of wristbands, made entirely from organic and recycled materials. This perfectly matches our ambition to help our customers further reduce their environmental footprint. This means we can now offer sustainable alternatives for our entire product range, from SealStation wristbands made out of recycled soda bottles, to payment tokens produced from our own production waste.
Being more sustainable is the top of the priority list for many working in the live event industry, what do you believe are the other main challenges facing the wristband sector today and how is Dutchband tackling them?
The biggest challenge is to keep outsmarting the counterfeiters (and cheeky visitors) trying to get into the event for free. I believe that with our fully tamperproof, closureless SealStation wristband, we can really help festivals tackle this problem.
This foolproof design applies not only to our higher-end solutions but – and this is quite unique for this industry – even to our most basic Tyvek wristbands, made out of a plastic fibre that resembles paper, as a standard come with overt and covert anti-counterfeiting measures.
Looking to the future, what does Dutchband hope to achieve?
We keep on innovating to bring sustainable, reliable and easy-to-implement payment and accreditation products to the leading festivals of the world. Just like in the Netherlands, we want to be the people to call globally if you need a good solution and you need it now.
Nordic introduces sustainable Eco wristbands
Nordic Wristbands has launched Eco, a new range of sustainable wristbands for festival and event organisers who want to cut out single-use plastics.
Using responsibly sourced bamboo, hemp and cotton, the range offers wristbands made out of natural, biodegradable fibres. A selection of recycled PET wristbands, bamboo RFID smart tags and cards to completes the collection.
Nordic Wristbands founder Jone Nuutinen comments: “We have thoroughly researched the sourcing of the materials, which are plant based, and manufacturing process to create biodegradable, comfortable, robust wristbands that can be branded in line with events’ own colours.
“We offer bamboo or aluminium clasps for a fully plastic free option, or recyclable plastic options to give organisers choices on their journey towards reducing their carbon footprint.”
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Eco-friendly event wristbands “big hit with fans”
UK-based provider of wristbands and lanyards, ID&C, has launched eco-friendly festival wristbands made from recycled plastic water bottles, in response to increasing demand from customers.
ID&C‘s new range of wristbands and lanyards is made from a recycled polyethylene fabric, produced from recycled plastic bottles. The eco bands come with duplicate print on both sides and a bamboo barrel lock, which is made from 50% less plastic than standard barrel locks.
As with standard event wristbands, for security reasons the recycled wristbands cannot be removed once the lock is fastened to the wrist.
According to industry estimates, roughly 23,000 tons of waste is produced at UK music festivals each year, but only a third is recycled. Festival organisers are now making increasing efforts to reduce the amount of waste produced at their events.
Plastic drinks bottles will not be on sale at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, with festivalgoers encouraged to bring reusable water bottles. The festival had already phased out plastic cutlery and plates, as well as single-use plastic cups and plastic straws.
“It is a tough challenge as our products have to be strong and secure, but we are always developing new ideas with the aim to provide a full range of alternative greener products”
An Association of Independent Festivals initiative has seen 61 festivals commit to making their events free of single-use plastic by 2021.
“Reducing the levels of plastic used across festivals and events is an ongoing challenge for any event organiser and we want to contribute to lowering the impact where we can,” says Matt Wilkey, company director and co-owner of ID&C.
“We have been continually exploring ways to become a more eco-friendly company. It is a tough challenge as our products have to be strong and secure, but we are always developing new ideas with the aim to provide a full range of alternative greener products,” adds Wilkey.
“Our ongoing initiative is to develop a range of products that are not only recycled but are also fully recyclable,” explains the ID&C director.
ID&C ensures all products are professionally tested to verify the strength of materials and their eco-friendly status.