Virtual queuing for Australia's longest running food and wine festival

Taste of Summer

A woman with her family scans a QR code to join a virtual queue for the Taste of Summer festival.

The biggest and longest-running food and drink festival in Australia, the Taste of Summer festival is an institution. Known locally as The Taste, it takes place each year in Hobart's Salamanca Place and waterfront precinct to celebrate Tasmania's eateries, breweries, distilleries and wineries. 

How could such a busy, bustling festival operate safely during the pandemic while retaining its special atmosphere? Art Processors saw this challenge as an opportunity to use our unique technology and visitor understanding to invent a whole new experience. During the festival’s busiest times, we replaced physical queues with a virtual one—and a spare moment to explore the local area. 

We’re committed to supporting our incredible cultural and visitor engagement community to bounce back from the pandemic and this was an especially meaningful project for us as Art Processors has its origins in Tasmania.

A hand holding a phone displaying the Taste of Summer virtual queuing web app.

Challenge

Anticipating upwards of 15,000 visitors each day of the week-long festival, The Taste’s festival organisers wanted to explore how the event could be COVID-safe through the use of technology to manage entry, traffic flow and venue capacity. Rather than shared hardware, the tech would use people’s mobile phones to further reduce the COVID risk. 

Knowing the importance of people feeling safe to attend, the virtual queue was heavily marketed leading up to the event, featuring in television and newspaper stories, TV ads, email and campaigns. It was critical that the platform could withstand potentially heavy traffic, and high expectations. 

Originally run by the local council, it was the first year that private operators had taken the helm of The Taste. In the past, there had been concerns raised that the event might divert custom from local waterfront bars, restaurants and shops. The new organisers were keen to flip this thinking and enable a positive impact on the community by encouraging festival goers to explore nearby businesses, extending the festival vibrancy beyond the event grounds.

The entry to the Taste of Summer festival.
Screenshot from Taste of Summer queuing app
Screenshot from Taste of Summer queuing app
Screenshot from Taste of Summer queuing app
Screenshot from Taste of Summer queuing app

Approach

The visitor is always at the forefront of our thinking on every project we undertake. “That's the lens through which we frame everything,” says Nic Whyte, Art Processors co-founder and Chief Technology Officer. “We build the technology around the human experience.”

So to get into the mindset of people arriving at the Taste of Summer festival, we ran a brainstorm with the organisers, creating a service diagram of the entire visitor journey. Stages went back as far as buying tickets at home to arriving on site, joining the virtual queue, wandering the local area, reaching the front of the queue, and choosing to enter the festival.

To avoid visitor frustration, the experience we created needed to be straightforward. “Knowing the pathway and the friction points, we plotted out what visitors would need from an interface at each stage, alleviating any potential anxieties,” explains Nic.

A family sits on Parliament House lawns in Hobart while waiting in a virtual queue to enter the Taste of Summer festival.

As a company with its origins in Tasmania, we are especially proud to work with the Taste of Summer festival to welcome everyone back in a safe and easy way.

– Nic Whyte,
   Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Art Processors

Enjoying a drink with friends or a wander along the waterfront when alerted that you’re front of the queue? No problem. Visitors can easily choose to postpone entry in 10 minute increments until they’re ready to head in.

Learn More
A family enjoy coffees on the Hobart waterfront while waiting to enter the Taste of Summer festival.

Solution

When organisers opened the virtual queue on day one of the festival, visitors could easily join from their phone by scanning a well-signposted QR code. To cater for different preferences, phones and data plans, people chose to join, leave, postpone and be updated through either the web app or by SMS. Users were informed of how many others were currently in the queue and could check their likely waiting time. Most people visited with friends and family so we designed the app to ensure that only one person needed to join the virtual queue on behalf of the whole group.

The web app was developed in the bold, colourful branding of the event, creating a seamless experience from the first moment on the booking website right up to leaving the festival. All the copy was written engagingly to reflect the brand’s friendly, fun tone of voice. Event staff had control over the platform so they could manage the flow of visitors. They had an overall view of how many people were in the festival, how many people were waiting and could manually close or open the queue as required.

Simple to operate, easy to find answers and ask questions, the Taste of Summer queuing app encouraged people to explore their surroundings by providing them with the peace of mind that they would be called into the festival at the right time. We turned queuing from being a bore to a benefit for visitors and businesses, helping extend the festival experience beyond its physical walls.

A family enters the Taste of Summer festival.