The music industry has been shifting its focus to the greater earning potential of live shows. The U.S. concert and event promotion industry is expected to generate $28 billion in revenue this year, according to the research firm IbisWorld, and is growing, in contrast to the plateauing sales of recorded music.
The travel industry seems well positioned to capitalize on that trend. Travel companies that have opted to focus on music events are seeing their decision pay off handsomely.
Josh Payne is co-founder of Unity Travel, a 3-year-old company that creates packages around festivals. Unity Travel's clients are the festivals themselves, for which Unity contracts to be the official packager. According to Payne, festivals are working harder to court concert-goers who are traveling from farther afield because they are more likely to invest more money both inside and outside the venue and in turn become more valuable marketing vehicles when they return home and tout the experience to friends and family.
"People who are traveling spend a lot more money at their destination," Payne said. "Right off the bat, you have someone coming in who maybe is not familiar with the area. They're going to go back home and tell everyone what a great time they had. Winning that travel customer is worth about four to five times a regular customer."
The BottleRock Napa Valley festival, which brings together food, music and wine, has introduced a younger demographic to the city of Napa.
Payne said his business has doubled its revenue each year since launch. In fact, revenue for the first quarter of this year matched revenue for all of 2016.
Student and youth travel agency STA Travel has also recognized how important the live music and festival experience has become to travelers. It has developed three unique product and marketing initiatives devoted specifically to music travel: STA Travel Festivals, STA Travel Beats and STA Travel Sounds.
While STA Travel Festivals (packages built predominantly around music festivals in the U.K. and continental Europe) has been around for a number of years, STA Travel Sounds premiered in August 2015 as a platform to help travelers discover lesser-known local artists. STA Travel Beats was launched in August 2016 in partnership with Beats Travel as a series of tours featuring exclusive, more intimate music events.
Tor White, creative director of STA Travel, said, "Music as an experience and as a reason for or inspiring travel is becoming more and more popular. A festival can be a great entry point to a new destination. Big festivals are still key, but the increasing number of smaller interesting music and lifestyle festivals, combining arts, culture and wellness as well as music -- and in stunning locations -- show how music tourism is booming all around the world."
The Good Measure tour’s first live performance of 2017 featured musician Skylar Spence at New York’s Hotel 50 Bowery; the tour is sponsored by Two Roads Hospitality, owner of Joie de Vivre Hotels.
Having noticed that travelers are increasingly craving live music experiences, Two Roads Hospitality, which owns the Joie de Vivre Hotels brand, launched a Good Measure music tour in fall 2015, whereby the company's boutique hotel properties served as venues for local bands to play intimate sets for fans and hotel guests.
The company partnered with indie music event curator Noise Pop and kicked off a second Good Measure music tour at the Hotel 50 Bowery in New York on June 14 with additional tour stops at the Marker in San Francisco on Aug. 18 and the Troubadour in New Orleans on Sept. 14.
Jorge Trevino, executive vice president, brand operations, for Two Roads Hospitality, said, "We certainly see a rising trend in music-related travel and a growing focus on music programming at hotels."
Trevino said that Joie de Vivre was looking to create engaging and original marketing content and found that marketing tool through music.
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"The tour not only brings free, live music performances to fans and our hotel guests, but it also serves as a platform for us to produce such dynamic content as Q&As with our featured bands and tour videos with the artists engaging in our hotel spaces," he said.
Those possibilities, Trevino said, "can be leveraged across our owned channels, our partners' channels and media."
Trevino added that in many instances, guests specifically travel to the company's hotels to engage in their music programming, whether it's a tour or the sundry other live music events the company hosts.