TicketSellers provides anti-fraud system for Glastonbury

In this case study: How The TicketSellers provided an anti-fraud system for Glastonbury 2019, detecting and preventing wristband theft, touting and other unauthorised access to the festival held at Worthy Farm, Pilton, UK.


We were approached by Glastonbury in late 2018 after they had seen our system in use at Boomtown. Like all events, Glastonbury has people attempting to access the event site without buying a ticket in the first place. Whilst Glastonbury has its  origins in the free spirited 70’s, modern licensing restrictions and the sheer popularity of the event mean there has to be tighter controls around who can access the site.

The Glastonbury organisers were impressed with our passouts system which tracks people arriving at and leaving from the Boomtown event site. They saw the potential to be rolled out across Glastonbury but there were a number of logistical and marketing challenges which needed to be overcome first.

The problem

In order for our system to work there were a number of problems which needed to be overcome.

First, there is no scanning at any of the Glastonbury gates and our system relies completely on being able to scan wristbands.

Second, Glastonbury is a huge operation with more people working at the festival than attend most other festivals in total.

Third, introducing scanning has the potential to sound a bit scary to attendees so it was important that the whole process was managed and communicated carefully.

The solution

Spindlewood own the networking infrastructure at Glastonbury so naturally we approached them first to establish that WIFI and power could be provided at each of the scanning locations – 24 gates around the Glastonbury perimeter. Power is already in place at the public entrances in order to power the UV scanners used to check Glastonbury’s paper tickets so that was relatively easy to add to the remaining crew gates.

Spindlewood agreed a price with Glastonbury to provide WIFI coverage at all 24 gates and first hurdle cleared we moved onto the next problem.

The sheer size of Glastonbury means rolling out any new system is challenging. Luckily many of the senior team members also work at other events which happen to be clients of ours so we already had a relationship in place and they had already experienced our system at other events.

We agreed to roll the scanning system out to 24,000 crew for year 1 with plans to expand in future years. The crew to be involved in this were identified and a training plan for the 250+ scanning team at the event was put in place.

Finally, Glastonbury correctly realised that once people knew that a scanning system was going to be put in place there would be speculation online around the reasons and how to circumvent it. We briefed our team to keep quiet and to allow Glastonbury’s organisers to do their thing in terms of communicating the changes.

The results

A team from The TicketSellers set off to Glastonbury a week and half before it opened to the public in 2019. Armed with 36 laptops, 150 scanners, 10 spreadsheets, 2 caravans and 1 copy of GarageBand (to ensure our own composition was played at Glastonbury) we arrived on site ready to work.

Within 2 days we had installed laptops and scanners at all 24 gates.

The following day we had trained 250 Oxfam staff in using the scanners.

On Saturday we had an early roll out to security to start the scanning process.

On Sunday we handed over scanning duties to Oxfam.

On Monday we showed Glastonbury staff our reporting system. This shows, amongst other things:

– How busy each gate is throughout the day

– How many times each person has left/re-entered the event

– Any suspicious activity (e.g. people smuggling wristbands out of the event and selling them to the public)

– Any activity which is predicted to be suspicious (AI analyses user activity and flags up anything which looks like it could lead to suspicious behaviour)

Post-event feedback

Obviously with a service like this it’s difficult to publicly state quantified figures as to how much wristband theft/fraud was prevented, but suffice to say we were asked to return to Glastonbury 2020 with an increased scope for scanning. 

Sometimes just having a system like this in place is enough to deter people from trying to sneak into the event site, and the insights provided by a system which is continually monitoring activity in/out of the site add a lot of value when planning subsequent events.

We will be very happy to work with Glastonbury when the event is next able to go ahead, in a post-pandemic world.

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