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Payback Could Be a Lollapalooza for Concert Promoters

Front Gate Tickets debuted its RFID solution at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and is now in discussions with the event's producers to use the technology at other festivals that they manage.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 09, 2011Front Gate Tickets, a provider of promoting, ticketing and managing services for live events, has developed a radio frequency identification system to help concert producers track the flow of ticket holders entering their events, as well as offer a variety of additional services, such as VIP access, social networking for ticket holders, and demographic information regarding ticket buyers. The solution features tickets in the form of RFID-enabled wristbands that can be read at entrance gates, with the capability of being read by fixed or handheld interrogators throughout a park.

The company is based in Austin, Texas, and the first customer for its RFID solution was events-management firm C3 Presents, for use during the Austin City Limits Music Festival, held in October 2010. Passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz inlays, compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, were embedded in Laminex wristbands worn by the festival's approximately 25,000 attendees. Front Gate Tickets indicates it selected HF inlays (in this case, those made with chips provided by Texas Instruments) rather than ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) inlays because the HF versions are considerably less expensive.

At last year's Austin City Limits Music Festival, a staff member reads the passive HF RFID tag attached to an attendee's wristband.

The process of employing handheld RFID devices at gates to read the RFID-enabled wristband of each arriving concertgoer was similar to that for the bar-code solutions that C3 Presents (which has declined to be interviewed for this story) had previously used. Because the RFID system proved capable of reading and storing RFID data at the event, says David Avery, Front Gate Tickets' director of technology, the company is now prepared to offer additional RFID-based services, such as the ability to restrict access to certain areas for particular ticket holders; provide data to a promoter regarding where and when specific concertgoers arrived, or the areas that they visited within a concert park; and enable an attendee to pay for food and beverages within the concert grounds, using a preloaded or credit-card account linked to the unique RFID number of his or her wristband tag.

According to Avery, the firm is in discussions this year with several event-marketing businesses, as well as sponsors and concessions companies, to also consider a variety of RFID-enabled options, including enabling a ticket holder to access social-networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, with a unique ID number linked to his or her network access data.

Since 2005, Front Gate Tickets has offered a bar-code solution enabling concert-management staff stationed at entranceways to scan tickets' bar codes, or to visually inspect and approve them for admission. For several years, the company has been considering an RFID solution that would allow further options, though it had initially considered the technology to be too costly.

However, Avery says, by 2009, many of Front Gate Tickets' concert-producing customers had some personal experience with radio frequency identification—for example, seeing the technology in use on cruise ships. Last year, C3 Presents agreed to employ RFID at the three-day, eight-stage Austin City Limits program (which hosted 130 performing bands) as a way to test the technology's success in a simple process—purely for gate entrance.


Jorge GUZMAN 2011-02-11 08:34:41 AM
Cost per capita Souns very interesting this method of control on big meetings. I will like to have an aprox. idea of the cost per-capita of each tag, sharing the implementation cost.

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