Accepting Credit Cards At The Gate
With densely packed bags and a spirit that only frontiersman feel, we set out to Greeley, Colorado for the annual Rocky Mountain Airshow. Our goal was simple: process credit cards at the gate and train the gate staff on our easy to use ticket scanner. While our goal was well defined, there were a few uncertainties: How were we going to get internet access to a remote location? How many people are actually going to show up? What do we do if the weather doesn't work out? On August 20th 2014 at 2:00pm Central Time, we departed determined to make another successful event.
We arrived a day early to get oriented. To our surprise, the team was able to catch a Colorado Rockies baseball game and strategize our attack plan.
"Not our actual seats."
"However, an actual preparatory scorpion pickle shot taken by the team. Salud."
Thanks Denver and Coors Field! If you are ever around during game time, we recommend the $4 Rockpile tickets, and hanging out at the Rooftop Bar.
The following morning we woke up and went to our onsite tour of the Greeley-Weld Airport. The staff was incredibly accommodating and helpful. We commandeered the interns office (sorry Anthony!) and were provided access to use their network. Our spirits were high. This looked like it was going to be a breeze!
We hopped in a golf cart and went out to survey the site in person.
"Oh hai! Obligatory Golf Cart on the Tarmac selfie!"
The gate was 4000ft away from our hard line connection, and several hangers blocked our direct line of sight to the location of the main gate.
We rolled up our sleeves, scratched our heads and commenced solving this problem. There was no cellular access at the main gate, and if there was it would be overwhelmed by attendees on their phones. There was wireless internet inside of a privately owned Hanger near the gate. Contact with the owner of the Hanger did not result in a green light to use this network.
We had to figure out a way to send internet wirelessly through 3 metal buildings using only the equipment we brought with us.
We now face a more complex setup and very little time or options to expand our resources. We affixed our access point to a telescoping pole and hoped to get our signal as high as possible. Since we had no direct line of sight, we devised a plan to "scatter" the signal off of the metal siding of the highest hanger's second level. We hoped that we could receive at least a trace on the ground and boost it to usable levels. We setup our transmitter:
"Climbing fences, barbed wire, and buildings. The internet will be commanded."
This is a directional access point, so if you are in the path of the signal you can get full wireless from miles away. The signal does scatter a little, so you can still receive some out of its focal point. This was our gamble. We hopped in our golf cart and proceeded to the main gate. We watched with despair as our internet signal quickly depleted. Between buildings we were able to pick up a little, but at the main gate there was zero connectivity.
We walked around the main gate towards the main terminal in hopes of picking up something. We finally discovered a single bar of coverage. The problem was, this was 1000ft from the main gate, and a single bar was not hopeful. We only had one shot at this and had to make it work.
"Definitely not getting a signal in here, but we could make a quick escape in that plane."
We requested a generator and a small tower to pick up our weak signal. With the oil boom going on in the great plains, obtaining a generator was not an option. The only two onsite were spoken for, and getting one in the twilight hours of the event was met with resounding laughter (we weren't laughing with it). Our morale dropped, hours passed and no reliable connection could be made. Were we going to have to abandon our ambitious goals of accepting credit cards at this remote gate?
A light bulb went off. Literally. The spot we were receiving a signal in was near the VIP parking lot for the event. In the VIP lot, there was a light tower with it's own power source. This was approximately 800ft away from where we needed it. If we could move that light tower to our magic spot, and hook up our booster, we would have a slight chance. A few conversations later, we received clearance to relocate the light post. We connected our receiver as high on the light tower as possible and hoped for the best...
We stood at the main gate and patiently waited for our devices to pair. Joy overwhelmed us as we received full bars all around the main gate. We basked in the glory of high speed internet. We had done it! 6 hours, climbing on top of hangers, radio towers, barbed wire and bugging private owners had ended in successfully beaming steady WiFi to a remote location.
"Sorry Brandon, you cannot use the main tower for the terminal to broadcast your connection, try again."
The biggest challenge of our box office was complete, we could now process credit card transactions, scan advance ticket sales and handle general inquiries where it was most crucial.
"All that work, to proudly display this banner."
We processed transactions without a hiccup and without pause. Many attendees were delighted to hold onto their cash and use their credit/debit cards for entry. Several switched from the cash line to the credit line because of how fast it was. The only challenge we faced was the unrelenting Colorado weather. We loved our visit, but us Texans aren't used to sporadic wind rain and cold. The crowd came, experienced a spectacular rocket launch, a breathtaking air show as well as a fireworks display that rivals most 4th of July displays.
We had a great time and made strong bonds with the event staff. If you have an event and would like to build a relationship with us, we'd love to hear about it! We are proud of our new onsite card swiping, our team, and our dedication to making successful events for our customers. We love events, and we love working for you. See you at your next event.
A rain delay at the baseball game foreshadowed our entire experience.