Beyond better ticketing and crowd control, RFID chips are taking the possibilities of engaging event experiences to a whole new level. They can be connected to your social media accounts, and used for an on-the-fly update. No joke - there are Facebook and Twitter kiosks at the back of every stage at Bonnaroo, with lines of people waiting to check in and receive their badge of attendance honor. You just tap your wristband, approve post/Twitpic and BAM! All your friends get to be jealous of your awesome taste in music about 10 times per day on an average festival schedule. This is quite genius, though; they’ve figured out how to bridge the disconnect between the real world and the digital world for a seamless experience.
Sticking with Bonnaroo (they do it well, and have industry juggernauts Music Today to thank for that), their web experience is a fantastic extension of their festival experience. They have grown a loyal brand following that is excited to help them co-create content, all in the hopes of seeing themselves as one of many Roo will feature on Facebook, Instagram, or their new social aggregator, The Fountain.
The Fountain is what sets them apart; at the festival, it’s an iconic fountain shaped like a mushroom that people play and bathe in, and has become a recognizable symbol for coming together to #radiatepositivity (another brilliant brand symbol that now encompasses the entire spirit of Bonnaroovians). On their website, The Fountain does the same thing - brings people together under a common desire to play together. The weirdness here is a magical bonding experience that will surprise anyone that isn’t already familiar with it; but once you are, it will suck you in year after year, from the time fest season ends in the fall to when those special four days in June attract the family again.
Social technology can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it’s just like a concert: if it’s overwhelming and in your face, then move to the back and you’ll be fine. A small sect of old skool fest goers I’ve met over the years aren’t too happy about being assigned a number and having their behavior monitored and recorded; but at the end of the day, they’re all still die-hard music fans, which means they’ll accept it for the sake of the music. For the other half of the scene, social integration is something that’s becoming as natural to our lives as paying for food with credit card…. which you can kiss goodbye, when the powers-that-be make it so we can pay with our RFID band next year. Oh wait, that’s right. Lollapalooza beat them to it.