Over the last few years, conversations have taken place with events large and small, as they weigh up the opportunities and potential issues of using RFID systems at their events.

There is no doubt that for secure applications like cashless systems linked to your bank account, the secure aspect of RFID trumps all others and really is the only way forward.  The same is true if events want or need to track audience movements around site or monitor crowd numbers in different venues.

However, if you want to eliminate ticket fraud, safely accredit your public and crew onto site, know who they are for welfare reasons, track how many times they leave and re-enter site and stop stolen or carried-out wristbands being used at all, then a barcode system, such as eventree, does it all.

You might want an RFID system because it sounds cool and high-tech, but do you really need it?  As well as the additional cost, you may find your audience reluctant to switch to a perceived ‘big brother’ system. Going for barcodes might prove a perfect solution and good halfway house, getting your crowd used to using their wristband for passing in and out, redeeming their recycling deposits and for crew, redeeming their meals.

Barcoded wristbands for access control

As part of the ticket buying process, customers are asked to add additional information for every ticket holder, so that tickets delivered by email / downloaded to Passbook (now Wallet), are easy to distribute to friends and family.

On site, tickets are scanned as usual to verify they’re genuine, identify the ticket holder and check it hasn’t already been used. Next, a wristband is scanned to associate it with its owner and allow them to pass in and out.  A full audit history of the band is available to the scanner operator, so any issue can be resolved there and then.

Preventing theft

From serious theft of bands from production cabins, to single band theft by an individual, these wristbands won’t have been associated to a ticket and therefore will be prevented entry. eventree’s game-changing feature works for crew and public, for events large and small.

Ticketsellers New Image


So what happens if you find a teenager passed-out in a tent?  Event control have access to a system to scan (or type in) the wristband number and access not only the individual’s details, but also those of the group booking, to give alternative contact details.

Another option to improve security

If you can accept debit card payments at your bars (contactless payments are similarly quick to an RFID wristband tap), you are reducing the requirement for customers to carry cash and hence reduce the likelihood of tent theft, with considerably lower infrastructure costs. With technology such as Apple Pay, customers can make contactless payment at your bars without even carrying their card around with them, and they’re using a system they trust and use everyday.

Where there is no difference

These important considerations apply whether you choose RFID or barcodes: you have to have a dedicated team to manage your access control.  This ideally means a 24 hour operation on your exit gate and on busy gates, 2 or 3 lanes in each direction might be required to prevent queues at peak times.  Your operators (or security) have to be ready to tell someone whose wristband is in the wrong state that they can’t come back in.

Here’s a summary of the differences to help you decide which is right for you

RFID Barcodes
Cost Up to 70p more per wristband


Stickers from 4p, plastic tags from 12p


Equipment Specialist readers needed

Standard scanning equipment: mobile app USB scanners for laptops etc

Increase speed of entry

Quick to tap your wristband upon entry, requires them to be posted in advance

Associating tickets to wristbands at the gate slightly slower, overall admin time is reduced compared to posting in advance

Security of system Cannot be cloned (easily). Secure for financial transactions Sufficient for low-value applications
Security at event Cashless RFID reduces tent theft as less cash on site

Barcodes match RFID for ticket fraud etc. Debit card bar payments reduce amount of cash needed on site

Increase spend per head Can increase takings by 15-25%

Using contactless payments with debit cards at your bar gives similar increases

Acceptance Profiling your audience to learn their likes and sharing behaviours with sponsors is overly intrusive to some



Asking customers to scan in and out (anonymously if required), is deemed less ‘big brother’



  1. More talk about the reluctance of consumers to accept RFID at the Festival Congress in Cardiff last month. Barcodes are definitely a really useful alternative to eliminating ticket fraud and wristband theft!

  2. It’s not necessary to have specialised scanning equipment to implement RFID. At Excelerated Apps we can create interactive tap-points and scanning equipment with everyday devices, such as the Nexus 7 – which significantly reduces the cost of implementation.

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