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FunTagg Technology Becomes a Necessity for Midways Amid Labor Shortage
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FunTagg Ticket Kiosks in use on Fiesta Shows
The show began using FunTagg exclusively at its fairs and events during the 2021 season.

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The FunTagg Digital Ticketing system, although relatively new in the outdoor amusement business, has been battle tested on midways across the country during events with large crowds.

During the Pandemic recovery, Steve Riegel, President of FunTagg, noticed a shift in the benefits of FunTagg from convenience to necessity. “All of our customers have run into extreme labor shortages throughout the past year. Deggeller Attractions say they wouldn't be able to go on the road without this equipment,” says Riegel.

FunTagg is the perfect solution to employment issues. In most cases, like the Delaware State Fair, where the midway is operated by Wade Shows, there were no staff members needed to sell tickets. Fairgoers successfully and efficiently purchased tickets from kiosks or using the FunTagg app. “To be able to do this at an event that size—a state fair— with no sellers is pretty neat. We created the technology to give people a fast and easy way to navigate the midway. Fair boards tend to prefer having machines handle the cash and then have the ability to run detailed reports for accounting. But now, labor shortages have made transitioning to digital ticketing essential,” says Riegel.

In 2021, FunTagg was used at over 60 events, including 6 of the Top 50 fairs in the US based on attendance. They include: Oklahoma State Fair, Maryland State Fair, New York State Fair, Virginia State Fair, Delaware State Fair, and the Topsfield Fair. FunTagg was also used by up to five events that were going on at the same time, proving that the technology can support heavy traffic.

FunTagg is focused on continued software advancement. Recent development cycles have made it easier to passively manage kiosks. “We refined the software, so the system monitors the condition of individual components within the kiosk. If a component has a fault code like ‘low on receipt paper' or ‘bill jammed in transport', the operator is notified via the dashboard, the system then automatically texts on call staff to attend to the kiosks. “We got it to the point where clients have all of their kiosks fully operational all of the time; kiosk monitoring is passive and easy,” says Riegel.

Of course, there are other digital ticketing companies available, but FunTagg has some unique qualities which sets Riegel's system apart.

“We are the only company on the market that has a kiosk with a bill dispenser to provide fairgoers their change. This allows for greater pricing flexibility and accommodates guests that use cash. Our customers are adding equipment, they are planning on using it at every event they can, and having the kiosks handle all sales. Midway providers trust the system and find it beneficial to their operation,” Riegel explained.

Perhaps the most important distinction between FunTagg and other digital ticketing systems is its ability to fully operate in an offline mode. “Ours is the only app that you can use with your phone on a midway without your phone having any cellular connectivity,” says Riegel. Service is necessary to purchase credits, but once they're on the app, fairgoers can put their phone on airplane mode and still redeem credits to get on a ride. With FunTagg, the phone can truly be your ticket. Additionally, FunTagg does not require its carnival and fair partners to network the midway for the tech to work. “Using NFC chips with storage capacity, our cards and wristbands perform transactions by reading and writing to the chip on the card. Internet connection is not needed when a fairgoer is tapping their card to get on a ride,” says Riegel.

Fair boards tend to prefer midway operators that offer digital ticketing. They value detailed accounting and reports. FunTagg has also added many features that appeal to fair boards.

Harry (left) and Steve Riegel show off their product at an industry trade show

One feature in particular has become very popular. When the fairgoer goes to checkout, they can be asked if they want to donate to local charities, the local Ag society, or whatever charities the fair board likes to support. “This component has raised thousands for charity, but is completely optional for both our client and the fair's customers,” says Riegel.

When the client desires, FunTagg has branded their app with the fair or midway provider's name for consistent promotional messaging. For example, The Fiesta Shows' app was developed with their own branding. The app also allows for in-app advertising for each event. This upcoming season, FunTagg is rolling out some exciting new features as well as a new outdoor turnstile. The turnstile will recognize QR codes, bar codes, NFC credentials as well as the phone app. This will help fairs expedite admission to the fairgrounds. “These amenities add fantastic value for carnivals and fair boards alike,” says Riegel. “They are another way Funtagg sets the standard for digital ticketing.”
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