Taste of Edmonton hopes to reduce waits and waste with mobile tickets

Click to play video 'Taste of Edmonton offers paperless ticket option' Taste of Edmonton offers paperless ticket option
WATCH ABOVE: This year, Taste of Edmonton is offering an app or a swipe card that you can use instead of paper tickets. Emily Mertz has more on the paperless initiative.

This is the first year Taste of Edmonton is offering mobile ticket options to visitors and so far, guests seem to be warming to the paperless methods.

“It’s gone over gangbusters, to be honest,” general manager Paul Lucas said on Wednesday. “People are loving it.

“I just heard the other day somebody said: ‘This is a great invention. I don’t have tickets to worry about anymore — it’s right there.’

“We’ve had our teething problems with it, but it’s been working amazingly well.”

READ MORE: Taste of Edmonton selling food ticket via mobile app for the first time

Lucas estimates about half of the people visiting Taste of Edmonton are using one of the two mobile options.

Guests who want to go paperless can either download the Crowdblink app — which lets them buy, use and top up credits using a QR code on their smartphone — or carry a printed QR code in see-through plastic from booth to booth. Vendors can scan codes using smartphones or a scanner.

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“It’s a thermal ticket, an e-ticket, where they put a ticket in a pouch and you’ve got loaded up already 40 credits, and off you go.

“You just scan at every booth. There’s no tickets to do a transaction with,” Lucas said. “Then we’ve got hard tickets as well, for those who don’t want to adopt the technology.”

READ MORE: Policy change solidifies Capital Plaza as permanent Edmonton festival site

The app option also means guests can avoid the ticket lines entirely.

“One of our biggest complaints was the lineups to purchase tickets when you come on-site,” Lucas said. “The public would come down, there would be 10,000 transactions per day on-site. So lineups could be fairly long.”

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Taste of Edmonton would like to be completely ticketless in two years, Lucas said.

“That’s our goal but we have to see how the public adapt to it. So far, I think there’s been a very high adoption rate.”

Waste reduction efforts

There are other ways Taste of Edmonton is trying to keep its waste in check, like controlling the supply of plates, napkins, cups and cutlery, with a goal of keeping them as environmentally friendly and compostable as possible.

“We recycle 94 per cent of our waste. That’s pretty impressive.

“We use a company called GFL who are ISO-certified and they have a plant out in Acheson. Every single piece of waste that comes off this site goes there and it goes into a recycling process — paper, plastics and even organics.”

READ MORE: Does that go in recycling? Test your Edmonton recycling smarts with our quiz

Last year, the founder of a waste diversion company toured two of the city’s biggest festivals and questioned waste-reduction efforts. Courtney Powell, founder of Elevated Enviro, said together, Edmonton festivals generated about 450,000 kilograms of waste, pointing to the large amount of single-use plastic products and guests mixing waste with recyclable materials. Powell suggested more plant-based products and better signage.

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READ MORE: How waste could be reduced at Taste of Edmonton, K-Days and other summer festivals

Lucas said Taste of Edmonton met with city officials over the winter to look at waste-reduction options.

“We actually sat with them in November, with a lot of other festivals, and one of the things they were hoping to do this year was a pilot test. That didn’t come to fruition.

“We certainly said we’d love to be part of that because we would also like to see what other things we can do to better look after the environment.”

Taste of Travel YEG contest

This year, Taste of Edmonton has teamed up with the Edmonton International Airport to offer a travel contest.

“We wanted to give people the opportunity to go to other parts of the U.S. and Canada to experience some different types of cuisine and food,” Lucas said.

People visiting the festival are encouraged to take a photo at the event, use the hashtag #TasteofTravelYEG and share it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for a chance to win a trip for two to Seattle.

“We’re hoping next year we’ll send them off to maybe a Taste of Chicago or maybe a Taste of Toronto,” Lucas said.

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The contest ends on July 28, 2019, at 11:55 p.m. MT. The winner will be contacted on July 29, 2019, by email.