There’s a feeling of validation that comes with buying a concert ticket. Not only are we committed to seeing the show, but we have something to show for it - a fragile, paper monument to an occasion that becomes a distant memory as time passes. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but until the rise of the digital media culture our ticket served as the memento of a thousand memories without the picture-snapping ability of today's awesome pocket technology.
Now, every show is a glowing blue sea of six-inch smartphone screens raised high in the air, capturing photos and videos to feed to the hungry hungry Facebook/Twitter/Instagram hippos. The “here I am” dynamic of people reporting their whereabouts coupled with the “there you are” efforts of production companies to introduce new crowd control technologies that mitigate fraud and streamline people’s access to their people (and in turn gain access to their behavior trends) is carving the landscape of how people attend shows, creating an integrated experience that weaves interactivity through online and offline engagements.
A big part of this integration is the growing use of RFID chips as ticketing and engagement vehicles. There’s no way for paper-issue tickets to support exit and re-entry other than hand stamps , so the first step was to create some form of perpetual ticket that couldn’t be removed – that’s where the idea of a locking bracelet came from. The locks didn’t stop people from passing bracelets, though; festivals needed a check in/out process that was unique to each attendee. RFID chips were the industry’s answer, and have seen a boom in demand for large-scale events.
RFID chips are little plastic emblems affixed to branded cloth wristbands that are unremovable without destroying/invalidating your ticket (finding out the hard way is the worst). They must be tapped against a scanner that closely resembles an anti-theft monitor at the doors of a department store upon entry and exit of the venue, so if you don’t check out you can’t get back in.
Since these wristbands must be pre-registered to the attendee's purchasing account before the event, they can be used to track all entry and exit activity of each attendee – valuable data about when they come to shows, when they leave, how long they stay, how many times they come and go in a day, etc. This data can be a goldmine to event organizers, because it can help them cater their program offering directly towards peak times for different demographics. This is awesome stuff for sponsors too, because they get to gauge their ROI based on known traffic and the music/event content within those time slots.
Every fest will still get wall-hoppers and Carmen Sandiego wannabes slinking in through gaps in the perimeter, but at least the wristband-passing problem was solved - and the possibilities are only starting to blossom.