Rock Fesitvals: Glam Rock
Allocating an entertainment budget can be a minefield. Sport seems like the obvious choice – but already you’ve lost the interest of a section of your guest list, and that’s before you’ve even chosen the event. But when was the last time you heard someone utter the words, ‘I don’t like music’? The fact is, just about everyone loves a live gig. Whether it’s Kiri Te Kanawa or Pete Doherty, there’s a concert out there to thaw even the frostiest clients.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that music is the fastest growing sector of the hospitality industry. Fixtures in the traditional summer calendar, taking in the Chelsea Flower Show, Ascot, Wimbledon, Henley and Goodwood, are still understandably popular with corporate event organisers for client entertainment, but there’s another season emerging, and it’s singing a new tune.
Maybe it was the sight of Kate Moss strutting through the mud at Glastonbury in Hunter wellies and hotpants, or Sienna Miller’s ‘effortless’ brand of floaty festival boho, but once-grungy festivals have undergone an image change over the past decade. Purists may reminisce about the over-the-fence entrance policies and anti-establishment anarchy, but the 21st-century festival is a tightly-run ship.
As the crusty image recedes and major dates command basic ticket prices of over £100, big brands such as Virgin, O2, Budweiser, Heineken, Orange and BT have turned to music events as a means of communicating directly with the moneyed young consumers they now attract. At Glastonbury, crowds drink Budweiser, at Download, ‘metal heads’ tuck into Müller rice, and at V Festival, line-up bulletins are dispatched via Bluetooth.
Even the hippiest of festivals are opening up to corporate sponsorship, and with sponsorship comes hospitality.
As corporate buyers discover that they can have access to the hottest music events without the mud-splattered hassle, the demand for VIP packages has soared.
‘Buyers are always looking for different ways of entertaining,’ explains John Ambridge, MD of corporate hospitality supplier Ambro Events. ‘People are looking to entertain at concerts now, as it helps them get to know their clients.’
Julie Mann of AEG Live, who manages hospitality at The O2, says that the demand for hospitality packages for concert dates has exceeded all expectations. ‘For every show, people want hospitality of some description to tie in with the event,’ she adds. ‘Music caters for every single taste, from classical to urban and hip-hop, and there’s plenty of flexibility among the different packages, whether it’s a pre-show meal or after-show party tickets. Clients are much more particular about what they’re spending their entertainment pounds on. They want their full perceived value.’
‘Clients let their hair down and have a good time at music events,’ agrees Joe Russell, event director at experiential marketing specialist Momentum Worldwide. ‘It’s more of a friendly environment than a formal client dinner. It’s a brilliant relationship builder, especially for long-term relationships.’
So, whether it’s a weekend rock festival or an evening in Hyde Park, good-quality music hospitality is not only becoming more widely available and easier to arrange, it also promises a return on your investment. Oh, and it’s always great fun too.