As the sun begins to set on another vibrant festival season, punters and event organisers alike have already begun to eagerly fidget as they look ahead towards next year. Festivals continue to be value-laden propositions for both parties, despite the average festival outlay now standing at more than £350, according to a survey by Bobatoo, the insurance website. In the midst of a cashless revolution however, many festivals remain woefully slow in adopting new technologies to add value to their offering.
Whilst in much of the economy, digital payments have become second nature, many festivals lag behind in converting to the contactless and cashless trends. This has a major impact on festival food and beverage (F&B) providers, a crucial backbone of the wider festival experience.
Often consisting of sole traders and SMEs, many are missing out on lucrative boosts in revenue from cashless payments at festivals such. So in the age of the cashless society, what can be done to help them adapt and thrive?
Despite advances in technology, at festivals cash payments still reign supreme, as complaints around easier access to cash, weak phone batteries, insufficient connectivity and poor contactless payments penetration continue to be valid concerns. But the use of cash is also problematic for vendors – huge overwhelming crowds can lead to difficulty of cash handling accountability and potential for theft – and the on the go nature of travelling between different festivals can amplify the risks of the above.
Adding to this pressure, the rise in expectations created by the digital age also means that vendors cannot allow friction in the payment process, lest they risk the loss of a sale. And friction can be very easily present, from the lack of cashpoints on site to loss of customer interest and attention if the customer experience isn’t smoothed out in a potentially stressful environment. But it’s not all bad news.
Today, valuable technologies have been developed that enable more effective payments management in the digital age, opportunities that are increasing markedly with the growth of solopreneur culture and the gig economy. As many F&B vendors count themselves members of these communities, point of sales systems (POS) are fundamental to their success, with a select few enabling businesses to be paid straightaway, unencumbered by excessive payments fees, and on the go.
As digital payments continue to increase in volume – a trend that shows no sign of abating, with debit card payments overtaking those by cash for the first time last year in the UK – event vendor businesses that use POS systems that sidestep banks for payments processing will be the ones to gain the most, most quickly. Also, through such POS systems, opportunities are present to harness analytics obtained through savvy deployment of such tools to plan ahead for leaner months, enabling businesses to run fully in the green and manage cash flow around less busy seasons.
By providing the necessary infrastructure – connectivity and the like – for such systems to function, festivals benefit themselves and F&B providers alike in augmenting the payments experience and ultimately boosting revenue for all stakeholders. So why not make next year’s budget pay for itself and invest in the future today?