Tracking tech to shorten Lollapalooza loo lines?

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Beacons can help festival planners shorten bathroom lines. For the love of God, just don't go in barefoot.
Beacons can help festival planners shorten bathroom lines. For the love of God, just don't go in barefoot. Credit: Getty Images

Going to Lollapalooza this August? Organizers may be able to tell whether you passed over the Arctic Monkeys for Space Jesus, how many Lime-A-Ritas you bought and how long you had to wait to buy them.

That's because companies like Live Nation, which runs Lollapalooza as well as fests such as Austin City Limits and the Governors Ball, and AEG Presents, which puts on Coachella, Stagecoach and Panorama, are using anonymized data collected at festivals to calculate how to improve the experience (e.g., tame bathroom lines), as well as to target ticket offers, connect brands to consumers, in real time or in the future, and more.

Live Nation does some of this via RFID bracelets, which are required for registration as they act as tickets and enable customers to pay for drinks, food and merchandise. (AEG uses these too.) If you tap the bracelet while registering or inside an activation, you opt in to share information. The company's head of digital and publishing, Jeremy Levine, says it's "always iterating" on the best consumer setup based on the info.

For instance, he says, go to a State Farm activation, tap the bracelet when checking in and RFID acts "as a communication to the brand, [to say] yes, I want more information," he says.

Brooke Michael Kain, chief digital officer at AEG Presents, says it uses geolocation data to figure out if a tent could use another salesclerk or if they need to open another line. At Stagecoach, other lo-fi data like wait lists can help inform how much RV parking is needed.

AEG also uses data on behalf of its brand partners (it has worked with American Express and Microsoft, among others). "We never just hand over data sets," she says. A brand might say, " 'We want to reach people that go to this amount of shows and spend this amount of dollars—where should we put our experiential tent?' "

It's all fodder

No detail is too small, these companies say: An item someone buys at a festival could provide a useful insight to use later down the line. If a consumer buys two light beers and chips, that might help Live Nation to target him or her with a brand in the future.

AEG also uses data segmentation to figure out the kind of offers to send to particular consumers. Maybe a consumer is a VIP and likely interested only in suite tickets. Or maybe he's impulsive and buys on the fly. That information can be used to tailor specific offers. For example, AEG could partner with Uber or Lyft to incentivize a last-minute ticket offer, Kain says.

"So many of these companies are looking to reach festivalgoers, concertgoers," she says, and AEG has the data on what they really like.

Watching music fans' paths at a festival can also help organizers track what band a festivalgoer says she's going to see versus what she actually sees. AEG can "model out those viewing patterns," Kain says. "That helps you understand how spontaneous your consumers are."

Also, knowing how and where people spend their time can help inform logistics at those festivals or venues in the future.

Influencer marketing

Live Nation also uses its data for a "Fanfluencer" program that targets very specific visitors. Using geofencing and social listening, the company can pull out micro-influencers within a specific geographic area and offer them unexpected perks.

Let's say a brand Live Nation was working with wanted to reach women between 25 and 35 who had shown interest in fashion and beauty, and who have more than 5,000 followers on Instagram. The program can comb Instagram looking for people who fit that criteria who have posted from the festival, direct-message with them in real time and reward them with an upgrade to the VIP area. Those influencers will often reciprocate with a thank-you to the brand in a photo.

"In a very authentic, nonpaid way, that consumer is sending a message" to her followers, Levine says. That kind of attention is crucial when "more and more consumers are getting hip to the fact that if you pay $100,000, [an influencer] is going to say something nice about your brand."

The science behind taste

Kain says she hopes to use data modeling to help better understand "the science behind taste." That is, to better understand the psyches of consumers, and what might endear them to, say, Florida Georgia Line even if they're hard-core rap fans.

"My hope, personally, is that we can start to use that data to help inform our bookers and help inform who we book when," says Kain. "Nowadays, genres are so mixed. Radio stations play everything. In a world where music is so ubiquitous, we're starting to see that taste isn't so siloed anymore."

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