This weekend marks the beginning of the annual Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival (April 14-16 and 21-23), attracting upwards of 100,000 attendees per day, with musicians, bands and visitors traveling from all over the world.
The travel industry has adopted the event, arguably the preeminent American music festival, as an opportunity to sell travel to the Southern California destination, just south of Palm Springs. The concerts are so popular as a destination trip that Marriott International this year set up eight safari tents at the site, equipped in luxurious style, with premium bedding, private restrooms and even air conditioning. The tents are available to Marriott loyalty program members only, for the second weekend of the festival, April 20 to 23.
Attending these multi-day music festivals can be a boon for travel agents. Lollapalooza in Chicago averages more than 160,000 visitors over three days, and this year will feature Paul McCartney, Metallica and Florence + the Machine. In Canada, Quebec City hosts its annual 11-day summer music festival in July, and in Switzerland, the Montreux Jazz Festival, set on Lake Geneva, attracts more than 200,000 music lovers.
“People will travel to an event and wrap their vacation around it. It is about the rise of experiential travel, and giving your clients the end-to-end experience,” said Jeffrey Pawid, business development manager at Events 365, a web-based portal designed solely for travel professionals. It offers commissions starting at 6.5% on a full suite of concert and festival travel solutions, bookable directly in Sabre as Red App, and on Galileo and Apollo.
Pawid, a former travel agent, suggested agents “should be asking clients, ‘What are your interests? Why are you going to New York?’ And the system will tell you whether there are events your customer might want to attend.”
Agents can also be more proactive, and look for events to book group business into. “We’re working right now with an agency in Louisiana. The Saints are playing at Wembley Stadium in London in October, and the agency is promoting a five-night trip with flights and tickets. We make them a full-service travel agency,” Pawid said. Travel agents can also send clients a link to Events 365 based on their travel dates. If a client books through that link, the agent will get the credit and commission.
Pawid said some of the most popular events to which customers travel are the Kentucky Derby, European soccer and the Indianapolis 500.