roll tickets

Roll Tickets & Plastic Tokens

With technology advancing quickly, including RFID, it is incredible just how popular roll tickets and tokens remain within the event industry, especially at music festivals, fetes and shows. Whether they are used as a currency, as a ride pass or as a food or drink voucher, roll tickets have weathered the test of time and remain a vital cog within the event world.

Roll tickets & tokens as currency

The key use of roll tickets within the event industry is as a form of currency. Many events like to have their patrons exchange cash for roll tickets at specified booths. The idea is that it reduces the amount of cash changing hands at an event and allows service outlets, specifically food and beverage vendors, to serve customers faster. With tickets sequentially numbered, it is also possible for event organisers to keep a close eye on spending as the event progresses.

A key concern for many events is security and accountability of their staff. With so many tickets in the area, representing a very high monetary value, keeping tabs of these is crucial. Numbering of tickets allows accountability, with staff tasked to record the sequence of numbers they have distributed in each transaction.

The added benefit of using roll tickets for an event organiser is that customers will often leave the event with left over tickets in their pocket, which means they have spent money but not actually exchanged the tickets for products or services at the event. This is the equivalent of throwing money away, but you’d be surprised at how often it happens.

Music festivals will often assign roll tickets a specific value, i.e. $1, $2 etc. Along with the different values, the roll tickets will be printed a different colour, to further differentiate the values for customers and staff. These values will be tied in with the pricing of food and beverages at the event, ensuring that customers can spend easily.

Roll tickets as ride passes

Amusement parks, schools and fetes commonly use roll tickets as ride passes, selling strips of 10 tickets for $20, or similar. The patrons then exchange the tickets at each ride to gain access. The alternative for fetes and festivals is the use of ride wristbands. Here in Australia, most schools running fetes and fairs will offer a ride wristband for $20-30 and this entitles the wearer to access  rides for the day. The use of ride wristbands reduces the likelihood of lost tickets (because the wristbands are non transferable and need to be cut to be removed), and ensures a quick and easy method of identification for ride staff.

Roll tickets as food and drink vouchers

Many events print other messages on roll tickets such as DRINK, BEER, LIGHT BEER, WINE, SOFT DRINK, FOOD, BUS PASS etc dependent on the area or process they need to control. As these are generally held in stock by suppliers, these make excellent low-cost (often last minute) solutions. For larger events, these are also often used as standard artwork terms, along with the event logo and T&C’s, to control spending.

Roll tickets and security

Due to their high value and importance to an event (a box of 10,000 roll tickets, each printed with a $5 value is worth, of course, $50,000), security measures are often taken. The most common is to sequentially number the roll tickets, as this also allows for greater operational control and monitoring during an event.

In order to prevent photocopying of roll tickets, the most secure option is to utilise foil roll tickets. The special foil material will reflect light within a photocopier and the re-production will appear black. Foil tickers are much harder to forge and replicate than standard paper tickets. They also remain highly visible throughout the duration of the event.

Keeping roll ticket designs secure for as long as possible is crucial, as is protecting your roll ticket stock once it is printed and has arrived at your venue or event. Too often, deliveries go missing when on site at an event and in the case of roll tickets, this can ruin the event.

Roll tickets vs plastic tokens

The main criticism of roll tickets is their durability. Because they are made from paper, and are relatively thin, roll rickets are easily destroyed, especially when exposed to the elements. Often at multi-day music festivals, a patron may buy several days worth of roll tickets on the first day, which means the tickets are often handled for several days before use. That, combined with rain and other wet conditions, can result in soggy and illegible roll tickets.

Plastic tokens represent a viable alternative to paper roll tickets. Events who use plastic tokens report an 85% return rate for the tokens, which can then be used at future events, reducing the cost of subsequent events. Plastic tokens can be embossed of custom printed on one or both sides, allowing an event to add a value as well as their logo, creating a currency of sorts. It is recommended that the colours used are rotating on a two or three yearly cycle.

Roll tickets vs RFID… the great threat

The greatest threat to roll tickets is RFID technology. Some music festivals have moved their internal currency to an entirely cashless solution. This requires RFID wristbands and suitable RFID systems, with patrons loading value to their wristbands and then simply scanning at a vendor stall to purchase something. These kinds of solutions remove the need for roll tickets completely. But, while RFID does pose a significant threat to roll tickets, it is far more expensive. Unless tied in with other functionality such as social media integration, access control or brand activation strategies, the expense can be cost prohibitive.

The core benefit of dumping roll tickets in favour of RFID wristbands is the ease of payment. Initial studies from Disney following the launch of their MagicBand has shown that expenditure per guest has increased once the move to RFID was made. As above though, Disney incorporates a range of other functionality and services that add further value to the RFID system.

The same theory exists within the event industry, with the notion that making payments easier will result in an increase in expenditure. Guests are also more likely to leave value sitting in their account at the end of an event.

Roll tickets and tokens are a cost effective way to control and monitor spending and activities at events and festivals. Until RFID solutions become significantly cheaper to implement, this is not going to change.

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