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Hersheypark Uses RFID System to Let Visitors Pay Without Wallet

The park's visitors can wear wristbands containing built-in RFID tags to make purchases via a prepaid account.
By Claire Swedberg
In the case of the point-of-sale (POS) system, says Dan Dengler, Hersheypark's manager of project management, a user can load money into a prepaid account at the locker area, while acquiring a locker-access wristband, and then store the link to that account on the same wristband. If not using a locker, that person can obtain a wristband at one of the park's POS areas.

An RFIDeas reader is plugged into each of the 200 Agilysys POS terminals located throughout the park. Upon first acquiring a PDC Smart Band wristband, a guest can provide cash or a credit or debit card to load an account with a specified amount of money. A family of four, for example, could load each individual's wristband with $20, using the same account number to provide those funds.

If a guest wishes to make a purchase, such as buying a drink, snack or T-shirt, an employee rings up the purchase, after which the guest taps the wristband against the RFID reader, which sends that tag ID to the PDC software. The tag ID is then linked with the account balance, and that data is forwarded to the Agilysys POS software. The purchase price is deducted from that wristband's fund balance, and the individual can then take the purchased items. At the end of the visit, that guest may either take the wristband home and use it on other visits to the park—by loading additional money into the account, or by spending any existing balance—or simply discard the wristband. The park does not issue a refund for any unspent balance, however.

The wristband's use for locker access, on the other hand, is valid only on the day that the individual is at the amusement park. Once a guest checks out of the park, the locker is reassigned to someone else. The wristband, however, can still be used to make purchases during subsequent visits.

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