Food and beverage sales keep the lights on for a lot of venues, so making that process as efficient as possible seems like a no-brainer for any club operator or concessions manager.
While RFID solutions have traditionally led to ticketing wristbands and cashless events, there were still pain points, such as having to reload wristbands with money, being out of luck if the WiFi connection is lost – leading to lines that are designed to keep you from waiting in line.
“We saw that payments were taking up too much time and affecting sales,” says Stas Chijik, who along with Benjamin Roshia developed Billfold POS. The two veteran New York-based operators launched food and beverage operations at the Brooklyn Mirage / Avant Gardner, where they noticed the problems firsthand.
Billfold creates a secure connection to a patron’s credit or debit card at a self-serve kiosk or online, whereas many RFID solutions require fans to add money to the card and then reload if they want more.
“We needed it to be seamless and intuitive,” Roshia says. “So we created a system that’s easy to learn for attendees and staff. The system can generally be set up with less than a week’s notice, it works with existing inventory software, and it’s priced to fit venue budgets, something most RFID systems can’t provide. It works for all aspects of an event, from food vendors to coat check and merch.”
Billfold reps say the product allows bartenders to process as many as 200 orders per hour, with transactions taking less than 5 seconds with no printing checks or flipping screens to capture signatures.
At the point of sale, the customer-facing screen is split, showing the order as well as an advertising space offering specials or sponsored products. Billford runs sales in real time, allows event organizers to centralize cash, and simplifies reconciliation with straightforward readable reports. The system also offers live data on individual locations within a venue or festival, as well as individual staff sales.
Roshia adds, “We’ve taken everything we’ve learned into building a point-of-sale system that won’t drive staff crazy, and that customers actually appreciate. With Billfold we created a set of tools that allow operators and organizers to maximize revenue with zero friction.”
One believer is Made Event chief marketing officer Michael Julian. When the promoter, which promotes Electric Zoo among other events, started working with the 6,000-capacity Brooklyn Mirage At Avant Gardner, the number of shows Made would bring was based largely on food and beverage sales. Julian couldn’t figure out why the Mirage’s per-head spend was so high.
“Our expectations were doubled, sometimes tripled,” Julian told Pollstar. “I was trying to figure out why. My first reaction was, oh my god, millennials are spending a lot more money on liquor than I thought. But I started looking very deeply and understanding how it works, I realized the key was the solution they were using, this Billfold.”
Julian said the fans loved the technology, which eliminated the need for pulling out credit cards and cut down drastically on wait times in line. Meanwhile, he said while he was concerned about fraud potential with fans, the platform is secure.
“As a result, we started producing a lot more shows there. Skip a year, and now we’re doing something like 70 shows at Avant Gardner, and partially the reason is we’re able to reach the F&B numbers that the venue needs in order for us to have all these dates, and a big reason is this technology.”
Added perks include working offline, and he hopes to see added integration with ticketing and being able to do seamless upgrades to VIP, merchandise and other onsite additions without having to wait in line, hit the ATM or re-load a wristband. “Imagine if it was a regular cash bar. I guarantee we wouldn’t do half of what we are doing now,” Julian said, adding that he welcomes a full-stop RFID solution, which could be applied to ticketing, merchandise, VIP upgrades and other perks.
“These instant upgrades and add-ons would be free money,” Julian said, adding that he’s interested in “anything that accelerates or enhances the experience, automates or moves things more quickly.”
Along with Made Event and the owner-operator history with The Brooklyn Mirage/Avant Gardner, other Billfold clients include iHeart Radio, Adidas, Elements Festival, Sting, The Who, ASCAP, and Carnegie Hall.