Soundrenaline music festival has been around for more than a decade. Now that I think about it, I have evolved from a teenager who couldn’t get the 18+ pass, a university student who hopped on from one music gig to another, and now a full-time worker who scheduled ahead so that I could take leave from work and from my 1.5 year-old kid, fly to Bali to soak in some sea, sun, and sounds.

I bought the ticket for Soundrenaline 2017 right after the lineup confirmed Jet and Mew. Simply put, I came for the music. All the other things existing in the event must not interfere with this. Ideally they should add up to the whole experience.

Reflecting on my experience attending the event for 2 days, I’d like to share some of the things beyond the stages that I appreciate and what can be improved further.

Getting in

I entered Garuda Wisnu Kencana feeling pumped up. The surrounding itself screams out rock (literally). I heard Efek Rumah Kaca was playing, but too bad I didn’t make it in time to catch them.

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Firstly I had to queue to exchange the ticket printout with the festival wristband. I was asked to present my ID card and register my phone number at the booth. Then I unwrapped and trashed layers of plastic and paper covering the wristband, before I wore it on my right wrist. I received a complimentary copy of Rolling Stone magazine which made me look around to find a spot to leave it (not trash it), because no way I would hand-carry it along the festival. Then I passed through security check, twice of exact same procedure.

All in all, the check-in process took 30 minutes. Of course the size of the crowd affected the time, but the flow could also be made more efficient. Focus on quick and thorough security validation and avoid any kind of data input (if required include it in the previous step, i.e. ticket purchase). Visitors will much appreciate to not be provided with additional services that build more baggage than assistance.

My early bird ticket supposedly included TapCash, but it wasn’t handed out or communicated along the check-in process. I didn’t care much to claim it, either. I perceived it as unnecessary additional service. Turned out it was the starting of a major pain point, but more on that later.

Taking a break

Jumping and screaming for the whole day, even our youthful spirit needs to rest some time. Rock on for the variety of lounge available! From bean bags, mattresses, hammocks (my favorite!), to artsy structures that serve as chill out area. Some areas have green grass which make comfy spots as well.

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As a non-smoker, I craved for fresh air every once in a while. In that case, I was thankful for the non-smoking area of a coffeeshop in the premises. While aiming for smoke-free festival might be too ambitious, it would be awesome if event organizers start facilitating smoke-free area which doesn’t exclude non-smokers from where the fun is.

Drinking and eating

Staying at the festival from 4 pm to midnight, everyone’s gotta eat. Now this was where TapCash came into play. All kinds of transaction, at the booth or with wandering salesperson, only accepted payment with TapCash. So I had to queue to buy one, which meant non-refundable 25,000 rupiah. The outrageously long queue costed me skipping performances of Scaller and Danilla. There were some salesgirls offering TapCash cards outside the queue, but they came with no balance. Non-customers of BNI like me still had to queue to top up, anyway.

There were still about 20 people in front of me when I heard paying cash was eventually allowed. So I ditched the queue and simply used cash to pay for anything I liked through the night.

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On day 2, the payment restriction was reactivated. I was singing through The Hydrant, when a salesperson came up with a bottle of mineral water. I readily pulled out 5,000 rupiah, but was asked for TapCash instead. I didn’t feel like getting out of the happy crowd to queue all over again, so I held my thirst. That was until the very last performance by Sheila on 7, my throat hurt so bad and I finally gave up. At that time there was no queue anymore. I bought the card, topped up minimal amount, then paid for 2 bottles of water.

I still think about the day that we as event visitors were treated unfairly. We weren’t allowed to bring our own food and drink. We were given no choice to transact but with a digital money that we didn’t already own. We were forced to buy one, costing some thousand rupiah plus skipping performances. As we used it to transact, there was no sort of incentive. We still had to pay the same amount of typically higher-than-average festival price.

And what would we do with the card after we went back to daily life? For me, it only adds to a list of digital money that I have but don’t use regularly. Honestly I don’t think I’ll ever use it again, but my husband insists to keep it. He loves it as a memorabilia, having “Soundrenaline, United We Loud” imprinted on the front.

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An event memorabilia

I think TapCash has a better chance as memorabilia than financial service, in the context of a music event. It’s not in the visitor’s goals to adopt a kind of digital money. If TapCash aims to merely sell a certain number of cards, then yes monopoly of payment method works. Can’t expect visitors to feel happy about it, let alone continue using it post-event.

What may be more sensible is to let visitors have a good trial experience during the event. The experience should convey everything promoted by digital money, e.g. quick and practical. Package it in an awesome form to reminisce the event. And if people enjoy using it so much, they’re more likely to use it again in the next situation that’s relevant for digital money.

I’m sure there are better ways to introduce digital money as part of an event. Some ideas off the top of my head:

  • Set the expectation ahead. Inform visitors prior to the event that in-event transaction would be supported by digital money. That way they can learn how it would work and prepare in advance. If they already use the digital money, they can simply bring it on.
  • Let people choose, and offer the better choice. Provide various payment methods, but incentivize the use of digital money with discounted price, priority access or other benefits. Reward existing users with even better privilege.
  • Simplify with multi-purpose solution. Eliminate the need to care for additional item by combining digital money into the event wristband. I had this kind of experience at Blibli Fun Festival using PouchNATION and it was quite practical. The next big thing is how to bridge the utilization of digital money for other purposes after the event.

It goes without saying that impactful experience design bases on solving user’s pain points. If it may not be the ideal case, the least we can do is steer clear of impairing user’s main goals.