Cashless payments for one-day festivals

One-day festivals have unique needs and a sound cashless payment system can be the foundation for an excellent customer experience.

02/27/2023 · The Team at FesteaPay · 4 min. read

In today's blog post we'll be looking at different ways one-day-long festivals can implement cashless payments. These events have unique requirements because their short duration changes how attendees prepare and go to these kinds of events.

The unique requirements of one-day festivals

The short and intense style of these events sometimes makes them more comparable to a large club than to a traditional 4 or 5 day long festival.

First of all, attendees don't generally sleep at a camp site near the festival, but rather go back home immediately after the event or find accommodation in a city nearby. Since they don't have a base camp where they might be able to enjoy a meal, they need to be able to find easy lunch, dinner and snack options on the festival venue itself. Moreover, they generally have their phone with them and charged during the whole festival, which can be a valuable tool as we'll see later.

Secondly, since these events typically somewhere between 8 to 18 hours, some logistics like admitting the audience or facilitating entry and exit to the festival venue must be much faster. Festival organizers cannot afford to have attendees wait in line for one or two hours to get their wrist band or purchase tokens, something which would probably be acceptable at multiple-day festivals.

Finally, the concert schedules during these events tend to be much more packed than in longer festivals. This provides more value for attendees but also decreases the chance that they might leave the venue for a quick bite and rather stay in and spend their money using the festival's food and beverage options.

Cashless options for one-day festivals

Apart from traditional plastic or paper tokens, there are two main kinds of cashless payment methods in use today in thousands of festivals across the glove: RFID/NFC wristbands and mobile cashless systems.

Wristband systems require handing out a bracelet equipped with an RFID chip to every attendee. Fans have to recharge their bands before or during the event using designated recharge points and they can then spend their funds throughout the festival. Staff will use PDAs to deduct balance from their wrist bands as they order from different vendors like food trucks, bars and merchandise stores. Their main advantage is that they work offline, but that feature is be less relevant for one-day events which generally happen in or near cities with good cell phone coverage. They require an up-front investment to manufacture bracelets for every attendee, staff to distribute them and to install recharge points which will likely generate long lines during the festival.

Their main alternative are mobile payment systems, which rely on the user's phone to handle payments. They rely on something everyone has these days with them at all times: their smartphone. While there can be connectivity issues with multiple day events in remote locations, these are not present in one day festivals. Battery issues don't arise either, since these events are short enough that modern smartphone batteries will easily last as long as needed.

How do mobile payments systems work?

Attendees don't need to do anything in advance to use them. They just have to scan a QR code in any of the signs distributed throughout the event or click on a link shared in the festival's social media accounts and a web app immediately opens on their browser. They are immediately ready to order and pay directly with their phone, by using any of the payment methods already integrated in them like Apple Pay or Google Pay. They are also able to pay using credit and debit cards as well as other payment methods like PayPal or Bizum. Since there's no app to download, the whole process takes less than 45 seconds from the first QR scan to order complete.

Once a customer has completed an order, they just need to approach a bar where the staff will validate their purchase and give them their order, without needing to collect payment. The process is optimized for food trucks as well: attendees can order while they are enjoying a concert and are notified when their order is ready to be picked up, eliminating lines around food trucks and enhancing customer experience by allowing them to enjoy the event to the fullest.

Finally, these systems have the most data available for real-time optimization and analysis. Since attendees choose their orders with their phone, it's not necessary for staff to record which products were ordered, therefore making analytics much more precise. Festival promoters can also use this data to optimize resources, for instance by sending more staff to a bar which is particularly under pressure.

Want to try it for yourself?

We've built FesteaPay, a mobile cashless system which many promoters have found perfect for their one-day festivals.

Just scan this QR code with your phone or use this link to open a demo.

Want to see how the system works on a real event?

Check out one of the events which used FesteaPay last year!

Contact us