• Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Taylor Swift Tour Brings Hotel Demand on Par With ‘Triple Super Bowl’ for Some Cities


Jun 12, 2023
Nashville saw the biggest jump in hotel performance among the cities Taylor Swift performed in during the first half of the "Eras Tour." Taylor Swift performs onstage during night two of Taylor Swift


Taylor Swift is gaining a significant amount of “Swifties” with her North American tour this summer in a demographic that she couldn’t see even in her wildest dreams: hotel general managers.

When the clock struck “Midnights” and Swift announced her “Eras Tour” in November 2022, hoteliers in the cities on the list rushed to adjust rates and prepare for the influx of bookings sure to come. The impact was instant.

General managers said hotel bookings spiked immediately following the tour announcement. Preparing for it was “pure chaos from a booking standpoint,” said Brendan Abraham, general manager of Bellyard, West Midtown Atlanta, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel.

“As soon as [the tour] was announced, it was an immediate effect. There wasn’t much of a ramp-up period; it went from 50% just to sold out overnight,” he said.

Derek Sumpter, general manager of Reverb by Hard Rock Downtown Atlanta, said rooms at his property sold out for the whole three-day period within two hours of the tour being announced. His property simultaneously jumped on increasing rates appropriately, basing it upon past citywide concert events.

But there was no baseline to compare to an event of this size. Sumpter said that since it was a three-day event compared to a one-day sporting event, it was “a definite one-of-a-kind event” in Atlanta, a city that has hosted College Football Playoff games and the Super Bowl.

“It felt bigger than even the Super Bowl, to be quite honest with you,” he said.

Booking patterns were different from most other high-profile events. Rather than waiting to secure a ticket to the show first, fans immediately leapt to secure a hotel room in the city they were hoping to score a concert ticket at as soon as the tour locations were announced.

“I think a lot of people did it the opposite way. Typically what people do is they buy tickets, and if they get the tickets, they look at this other stuff. In this, it was almost counter. It was like, ‘Let’s secure the hotel first and then God help it work out,’ and that’s what we’ve seen,” said Marc Sternagel, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Nashville.

Another key part of the success is that at most markets, Swift performed for three nights: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Most concert performances are one-night-only, but with Swift’s three-night performances, demand was steady all weekend.

While Friday and Saturday performances saw a healthy increase, Sunday was the day of the week that saw the biggest growth in actual occupancy compared to baseline data. According to data from CoStar’s hospitality analytics firm STR, occupancy jumped nearly 15% on Sundays compared to about 9% on Friday and Saturday.

Sumpter said occupancy grew 200% week over week at the Reverb for Swift’s Sunday performance.

Receiving an influx of hotel demand is always welcomed, but handling it once it comes is another story. Staffing numbers and hours need to be elevated, food-and-beverage products need to be ready and available, and promotions geared toward creating more revenue need to be prepared.

“We just really made sure that we had enough staff, we had enough food and beverage, that we had enough linen to rock and roll because we knew that we were going to be turning over rooms quickly,” Sumpter said. “It was really just preparing staffing-wise, product-wise and just making sure that we had enough people on board to service all the fans that came in for that weekend.”

Abraham said his staff’s performance was “a major sense of accomplishment” given the nature of the event.

“The industry is something new every day, but for the ops folks … it can be mundane. You come in, you clean rooms, you check guests in. This gives a different feel to it. It’s almost like the Super Bowl, where you’re driving into work kind of psyching yourself up for the big game and it’s a team effort,” he said.

Sternagel said the Grand Hyatt Nashville regularly gets a high volume of demand on weekends but for Swift it was “an all-hands-on-deck weekend.”

“That was the only time we really said we don’t grant any time-off requests for management so we were really heavily loading the weekend and making sure that our housekeeping staff is prepared, not just prepared because they had to flip the rooms, but we also knew that there was a little bit more glitter and the bedazzled involved,” he said.

The Bellyard pre-batched food-and-beverage items to make sure the supply was ready for the demand, Abraham said. His property also extended its hours of operations for guests returning for a nightcap after the show.

Abraham, Sternagel and Sumpter all said their properties had Taylor Swift-themed cocktail menus with drinks named after her songs to tailor to the crowds.

The Grand Hyatt Nashville hired a DJ to play Swift’s songs on its pool deck and decorated the area with elements from her music videos, Sternagel said.

Sumpter said the Reverb hired a Taylor Swift cover band to perform in the lobby throughout the three days Swift was in town. Not only did these efforts prove successful with guests staying at the hotel, but it brought in outside Swifties looking for an experience pre-concert.

“It was very easy for us to not only get the hotel guests into the hotel, but other people that just wanted to hear Taylor Swift music before the concert started, so we were able to capture an amazing food-and-beverage revenue,” he said.

The food-and-beverage numbers were what really stuck out to Sumpter, more so than the high RevPAR, ADR and occupancy; the Reverb had a 500% increase in food-and-beverage revenue week over week on the weekend of the concerts.

According to STR data, Swift’s tour significantly elevated key performance metrics in the majority of cities she visited. Nashville saw the biggest jump, increasing baseline metric premiums such as occupancy by 33%, revenue per available room by 101% and average daily rate by 51%.

“The top market in the Eras Tour so far in terms of performance lift was in Music City — Nashville, essentially the home field of Swift,” said M. Brian Riley, senior analyst at STR. “Over three nights, Nashville’s RevPAR more than doubled its normal seasonal levels, gaining a $132 nightly premium to average $263.”

Sternagel said there was “a special flair and feel to it.”

“I would say Taylor Swift was probably a triple Super Bowl for Nashville,” he said. “It was just three nights of craziness.”

The largest driving performance factor across host markets was higher ADRs, Riley said. According to data from STR through Swift’s performances at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the markets with the highest ADR premiums were Nashville at 51%, Philadelphia at 43% and Bergen/Passaic, New Jersey, at 29%. Across all markets, the weighted total ADR premium increased 17% on average.

Las Vegas actually saw a slight decrease in ADR and had very small gains in RevPAR and occupancy.

“In part, this relates to the market’s massive size — 168,000-plus rooms — which can readily absorb a stadium’s worth of room demand,” Riley said. “Also, this market has been a strong spring performer in terms of demand with seasonal weekend occupancies hovering around 90%.

“That does two things: First, it raises baseline or normal performance expectations, thus showing smaller percent gains during a special event. But it also makes finding a vacant room very difficult even for the motivated fan.”

Most of the top-performing markets had something in common: several submarkets performing at an extremely high level. Nashville led all markets with seven submarkets surpassing a RevPAR premium of 40% or more, followed by Boston with six and Dallas/Fort Worth with five.

Riley said that while Phoenix’s average $264 RevPAR during concert dates may have led all markets to date, “it should be noted that one dollar down is Nashville’s $263, and includes a Sunday night concert, which would be typically far below Friday-Saturday indicators.”

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