By Jenni Young, CMO, Tappit

For many music fans, festival season is one of the most exciting times of the year. It’s a tradition that has lasted decades and, in some respects, not much has changed. However, there are other elements of the overall festival experience that have been completely revolutionised thanks to advancements in technology. In the last decade, we have witnessed huge developments as festivals race to create an unparalleled fan experience, embracing everything from virtual reality and holograms to facial recognition and cashless payment systems.

It’s important that organisers embrace new technologies to ensure that they can keep up with attendee-demand for the most immersive and seamless experience possible.

New technologies can also provide great insights for festival organisers into the behaviour and habits of attendees throughout a festival to make sure that every year gets better.

Creating immersive experiences

The use of AR has become increasingly popular among festival organisers, with many now integrating AR capabilities into their apps to entertain audiences throughout sets and during set changeovers. Coachella 2019 acted as a fantastic example of how this technology can be successfully implemented. Using the ‘Coachella Camera’ audiences could direct their phone to the stage to immerse themselves into the festival’s space theme. Not only did this technology add an additional layer of entertainment by reacting and changing to the different sets, it also created a more seamless, end-to-end festival experience.

Organisers need to consider all attendees when integrating technology to avoid any sense of isolation across the event and ensure everyone enjoys their time without boundaries.

Alleviating safety concerns

Safety, of course, is the number one concern for both festival-goers and organisers, and new technologies have helped organisers adopt safety measures. For example, certain festival wristbands now store the contact details of parents, guardians or friends meaning support staff can quickly get in contact with someone on behalf of the festival-goer should they be lost. 

Reducing waiting times

Queuing at festivals has always been a bugbear for festival-goers. Even Glastonbury fell foul this year, with queue times for the water taps stretching to an hour in the main arena.

Technology has the capabilities to help organisers reduce queue times and speed up the payment process. Cashless payment wristbands eliminate the need for people to fumble for change or dig around for their wallet altogether and create a seamless payment process, which has been proven to drastically reduce queue times and increase individuals’ spending. A very welcome addition of technology to all festival attendees.

Bringing people together

Thanks to a range of live streaming and VR technologies, festivals can now be enjoyed all over the world. Live streaming into people’s living rooms straight from the muddy fields has ensured that no-one misses out on the headline act. Some festivals have taken this a step further and created spin-off festivals across other parts of the world to run simultaneously to their main festival. For example, Tomorrowland has launched UNITE with Tomorrowland with locations in Spain, Germany, Lebanon, Taiwan, Malta, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, to stream the main festival live from Belgium.

Truly understanding customers

Technology doesn’t only help attendees enjoy their festival experience; it also provides insight to the organisers that they haven’t been able to access previously. Technology can be integrated throughout the festival whether that’s through apps, cashless payment, sensors and wristbands to track festival-goers’ behaviour such as queue times, popular areas in the festival grounds at particular times and food and drink habits.

Having such insight is incredibly important for organisers to curate a festival that is tailored to its attendees. For example, if cider was the most popular drink on Friday at 2pm, organisers can ensure that there is a large stock of cider at that point for the remaining days. Many festivals have historically underestimated the preferences of their attendees and this isn’t purely down to naivety or ignorance, it’s simply because they didn’t have the data insight. Now, they have access to unique insight and can ensure that every festival gets better, and the experience improves year-on-year.

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Areas of interest
Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: molly@eventindustrynews.com