About Burning Man
Burning Man is a global ecosystem of artists, makers, and community organizers who co-create art, events, and local initiatives around the world. Most recognizably, tens of thousands of Burners gather annually to build Black Rock City, a participative temporary metropolis in the Nevada desert.
The nonprofit Burning Man Project produces the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, and provides year-round support, connection, education, and grants to an ever-growing network of Regional Burning Man communities in more than 40 US states and 35 countries.
Portals by Gravity Payments is a customized self-service customer payment and presentment portal. The team at Gravity partners with businesses, like Burning Man, to design payment and presentment workflows that work best for their customers.
- Integrated customer enrollment and onboarding
- Flexible payment solutions
- Customizable branding
- Advanced security
Access to fuel and water in Black Rock City is facilitated by the fuel program “BRC PETROL” and “Water Works” water delivery services. Tracking and reconciliation of fuel payment and delivery for over 700 accounts required manual entry for each delivery. While attempting to accept payments in real time, the small team would inevitably work on collections of sums in excess of $500,000 through December (3 months following the weeklong event).
Gravity Payments developed a self-service portal for BLC PETROL and Water Works that integrated directly into Burning Man’s Fulcrum POS. With credit card information securely stored, charges for fuel and water orders were made in real time, with a 99.6% reduction in accounts going to collections.
Gravity Payments sat down with Erinina “Nines” Ness from the Burning Man team to learn more about how this solution improved their fuel and water sales and payment.
GP: Can you share how you accepted payments for fuel and water in years past?
Nines: On top of reconciling fuel and water deliveries from suppliers with individual sales, we were using Square and were required to manually enter each of those transactions to generate the charge and send a receipt. At the end of 2019 I counted 36 keystrokes when charging a participant. We have thousands of charges – 700 fuel participant accounts, each with multiple charges a day.
“[Portals] greatly reduced our workload. It cannot be underestimated how much of a difference that makes”
GP: Trying to do that every day and stay on top of the orders sounds impossible.
Nines: It was impossible. It would take full-time work and overtime until October or November, and the event is one week in August.
GP: What was compliance like, as far as receiving payments for invoices after the event?
Nines: After the event, inevitably I would spend until mid-December making sure that I got everybody fully charged. Inevitably people take their cards offline – they leave the event and they’re like, “I’m done with this year, I don’t want to deal with it anymore.” They don’t read things that we send them, obviously, like most people.
And so there would be a significant amount of collections work in my job. It became a part of my job to harass people to give me a new card or give me a better card or put money back on their card.
GP: How has your new payment portal helped you?
Nines: At the end of an event in previous years we were looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars that were unpaid. This year transactions were processed in real time, so all we had was some collections that we had to deal with and some reconciliation.
GP: What was it like working with the Portals team or with Gravity?
Nines: The big win is that the system worked, and it greatly reduced our workload. It cannot be underestimated how much of a difference that makes.
But our second biggest win is the support that we received from Gravity. I came from Square, where you could not even get a hold of somebody to ask a question. They don’t want to talk to you, they don’t care. The Gravity team was available every single day. They would respond sometimes in the middle of the night, which is not what I asked them, but they were so prompt and on it that it made the process super smooth. Anytime there was a problem, within 24 hours somebody had reached back to me.
“Our second biggest win is the support that we received from Gravity. I came from Square, where you could not even get a hold of somebody to ask a question….The Gravity team was available every single day”.
We’re continuing to do development and update a few things that we didn’t have [last year]. I appreciate that we’re given this opportunity to continue to develop and fine-tune things. I think that’s a unique thing for a company to really invest in and take time to do.
“Signup seemed simple with the online setup before and it was fast on site.”
“Online registration, pre-event was smooth.”
“Payment was not a problem.”
“Registration was easy.”
“Automatic billing was flawless in my experience.”
“Charging per day was great and it greatly reduced our billing errors, as far as I can tell.”
Looking for a customer-led payment and presentment solution for your business? Contact our portals team today.