By Richard Cox, managing director of Langley Compass Group
The restrictions enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic hit the live events sector particularly hard, with the industry suffering a 90% decrease in revenues in 2020 according to the BVEP UK Events Report.
The industry employs more than 700,000 people across the UK and contributes £70bn to the economy, so it is vital that live events, including festivals, can continue operating.
To keep attendees safe as they are welcomed back, festival organisers will need to continue implementing measures to minimise the risks of the virus spreading.
While social distancing measures and clearly sign-posted one-way systems are still in place in many settings, the post-pandemic world has also cemented the need for technologies to protect and reassure attendees, and Electronic Point of Sale [EPoS] systems have a significant role to play.
EPoS systems can be integrated across a variety of hardware devices including phones and tablets and can act as a virtual till. They are especially beneficial to festival vendors as they limit the need for face-to-face interaction and streamline operations, making serving attendees far safer.
Using existing EPoS technology, as well as implementing QR codes and app ordering, can also help festival organisers promote social distancing by reducing queue lengths.
Along with keeping guests safe, these technologies offer food and drink vendors a greater insight into purchasing, deliveries and stock allocation, and enable them to develop a single-customer-view of their patrons through business intelligence and data visualisation.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on consumer behaviour, and the adoption rates of cashless payment systems have risen considerably over the last 18 months due to hygiene risks associated with handling money. Festival organisers must therefore be aware of the concerns and expectations of both guests and staff when it comes to hygiene and social distancing.
Many festival food trucks and bars utilise tickets or buzzers to alert customers when their orders are ready, but these require increased contact between servers and customers.
Using app ordering and cashless payment systems, however, means guests are not required to touch anything other than their own phone to place their order. This is a great way of preventing customers mixing with others in queues and helps reduce the chances of virus transmission. Implementing order collection points also allows vendors to further minimise direct contact without sacrificing efficiency.
Revenue and spending
The rise of cashless payment systems can not only keep festival attendees and staff safe, but also opens additional opportunities to generate revenue prior to an event.
Guests can preload their accounts with credit, allowing both them and festival organisers to budget accordingly.
With cashless payment and app ordering, transaction times and queuing are also reduced by 80% on average, according to the Tappit Festival Report, improving customer experience while making guests feel more secure about their money.
While EPoS technologies help festival organisers maximise space and address efficiency concerns whilst ensuring an event is COVID-19 secure, they also allow organisers a greater insight into customers’ buying patterns.
Organisers can utilise cashless payment systems and app ordering to get accurate and real-time data on how customers are spending their money. These technologies allow organisers to analyse which bars and food vendors are attracting the most customers, and what their purchasing habits are. These 360 views of guests enable more promotional opportunities, as well as incentives and rewards that allow for a far more personalised experience.
Individual vendors also benefit from these technologies, as they can make real-time adjustments to their menus and see their sales at a glance, creating an efficient ordering solution while reducing the operational costs of additional staff to take and process orders and cash payments. This detailed data is especially invaluable at a time when vendors must increase their revenue wherever possible to recoup their losses from previous lockdowns.
There is no denying that the pandemic has increased the take up of new EPoS technologies across the live events industry, with more people having become comfortable using self-service tills, app ordering and QR scanning as a way of preventing the spread of the virus.
As festivals return and prepare for next year, these technologies provide a way for organisers and vendors to ensure events are COVID-19 secure, promote social distancing and reduce queuing times, whilst assuring guests that every precaution is being taken to keep them safe.