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Spotlight on: music festivals in hotels

A global industry worth over US$3bn, music festivals continue to draw in the crowds each year. Now the travel sector is getting in on the act. Click. looks at the growing trend for hotel festivals.

It's the 50th anniversary of Woodstock this August, one of the Sixties' most iconic events when nearly half a million revellers flocked to a dairy farm in Bethel, New York for a wild three-day music festival. It made headlines across the globe and sparked an industry now worth billions of dollars.

According to the festival ticketing platform, Festicket, an increasing number of festival goers are choosing to upgrade their stay during a festival with more than 31% booking hotels or apartments in 2018. Now savvy hoteliers are tapping into this affluent market of professionals who love festivals and live music by hosting their own live music events.

First to the party

It was Marriott's luxury lifestyle brand W hotels that first disrupted the festival scene in 2016 with its Wake Up Call festival at W Scottsdale in Arizona. The three-day event attracted around 500 people each day with big-hitting acts like Cee Lo Green, De La Soul and Jess Glynne. But maybe the biggest draw for W guests was the proximity to their own bed, bathroom and shower facilities, something regular festival goers usually forfeit.

In 2018, the brand rolled out Wake Up Call globally and last year held festivals at W Hollywood, W Barcelona and W Bali, and this coming autumn the new W The Palm, Dubai will host its first Wake Up Call event. Attendees have to be Marriott Rewards members (free to join), and can use points to pay for tickets, gain access to private after-parties or even a meet and greet with the stars.

Attract younger audiences

Another reason to host a festival at your property is to attract a new audience. In Jordan, the new Ayla Resort will host its first Southsound, a Red Bull-sponsored music festival, at its B12 Beach Club in October, in order to attract a younger crowd to its resort.

“We want to attract a more millennial audience to experience Ayla, and Red Bull was the ideal brand to partner with as its love for music and entertainment is similar to our own,” says Husam Al-Zu’bi, Director of Marketing and Communications. “Like any big event there's always a huge amount of logistical organisation which goes into the set up, but at Ayla we're used to hosting big events at our B12 Beach Club.”

Boutique festivals with big-name bands

In the UK, The Lime Wood Group, owners of boutique brand The Pig Hotels, launched Smoked and Uncut in 2017, a series of day-long music festivals in the grounds of three of its properties. “Our music is carefully curated to ensure that we have something for everyone, with headliners that have back catalogues that hopefully should get all of our guests up on their feet,” says Lotti Eagles, Head of Marketing at Lime Wood Group.

Music is carefully curated ... with headliners that have back catalogues that should get guests up on their feet

“The sense of hospitality at Smoked & Uncut is what we feel makes it unique,” continues Lotti. “It's staffed and managed entirely by team members from across our group of hotels and they apply the same level of service and attitude to guest care at the festivals as they do in their everyday roles.” This year's gigs were a huge success, attracting on average 3,500 people each, and the group has plans to roll out more dates next year.

Collaborate with festival organisers

Destination festivals have seen an upward trend in the last few years and offer a chance for hoteliers to join forces with an established festival organisation. Careyes, an exclusive private beach resort in Jalisco, Mexico, hosts the annual Ondalinda festival in November, an intimate music and arts festival which Vogue has called 'the luxe Burning Man'.

“The collaboration between Ondalinda and Careyes is very natural because of its alignment around values, creativity, design, nature and the shared love of arts and the desire to give back to local communities,” explains Lulu Luchaire, founder of the festival. Now in its fourth year, the four-night event invites only 650 guests, all staying in the resort's private villas, casitas or at the El Careyes Club & Residences.”

“During Ondalinda, the whole of Careyes lights up with extraordinary set designs, art pieces and 10,000 candles and is suddenly vibrant and full of an international, bright, lively crowd of people from all over the world, meditating in the morning and dancing until late.” Exclusive, well-organised events with great music and on-tap hospitality, hotel festivals are a natural win for music fans who prefer their creature comforts. But for hoteliers, not only can on-site festivals attract a whole new audience, but with increased customer engagement on social media platforms such as Instagram, it seems there’s no more effective way to showcase your hotel to the millennial audience.

 

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Hero image: credit to Maxime Bhm, Unsplash
Takeaway
  • Hotels are tapping into the growing music festival market by hosting branded festivals with well-known acts to attract the affluent professional market
  • It's worth working with an established festival organiser, who can book bands and manage the logistics so you can concentrate purely on hospitality
  • Look at the kind of audience you want to attract and try to organise a festival with the same ethos as your brand
  • Consider all the areas of the festival experience, not just the musical line up. Upmarket festival food and bespoke cocktails could make your event stand out from the rest

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