The Taylor Swift Effect:  Taylor Swift’s Eras World Tour and its Impact on the Hospitality Industry

05.06.2024 Author: Katherine Wyles

As the UK & Ireland prepares for Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated ‘The Eras Tour’, excitement is building not only among fans but also within the hospitality industry. The tour, which has already achieved phenomenal success globally, is set to bring a significant economic uplift to the cities graced by the pop icon’s presence. This article explores the impact of the tour on the hospitality industry, highlights innovative business strategies that have emerged, looks at some instances where fan exploitation may have occurred, and offers insights into how the industry can harness the positive potential of such mega-events. 

The “Swiftonomics”of ‘The Eras Tour’
Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour’ has been a business phenomenon, with its ripple effects extending far beyond concert venues. As the tour weaves across the UK, beginning in Edinburgh and culminating at London’s iconic Wembley Stadium, it brings a wave of economic benefits. Hotels, restaurants, and local businesses are poised to experience a surge in patronage, with fans, affectionately known as Swifties, travelling from near and far to witness their beloved star in person. Barclays have noted that the UK is set to see a £1.2B bounce from the 15 concerts. 

While these ‘swiftonomics’ also cover a boost to retail, the majority of revenue will be going towards hospitality and tourism. The latest figures from STR suggest that Occupancy on the Books for June in the host cities of Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff, and Dublin are all at least 10% ahead of this time last year. London, always more resistant to mega events due to a much larger supply, is also seeing a double digit difference for the concerts in August. Some hotel chains, such as Whitbread’s Premier Inn chain, have been completely sold out since the tour was first announced. In North America, hotels in the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati hotels saw an average uptick in ADR of 71% between 2022 and the U.S. Leg of The Eras tour in 2023. 

Swift Leverage
Businesses have been quick to adapt to the influx of Swifties, implementing creative strategies to attract increased business. For example, retailers have stocked up on Swift-inspired apparel in response to reports that one in five ticket holders would purchase new outfits specifically for the concerts . Restaurants have crafted special menus and cocktails named after Swift’s hit songs, turning ordinary dining experiences into celebrations of her music. 

Hotels have introduced themed packages, like Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa’s exclusive ‘Champagne Solution’, named after a song on Taylor’s latest album and designed to appeal to Swifties who may wish to follow Taylor’s lead, and find solace in high-end bubbles after heartbreak.  Likewise, a bakery in Paris is being inundated with special orders of “Taylor Swift on a stage with a microphone in fondant, Taylor Swift riding a unicorn, and cakes with her face on them …”. Liverpool has taken this creativity a step further as the whole city transforms itself into a Taylor Town Trail with art installations representing each Era set to be placed across the city centre as Anfield hosts three concerts in June. These creative efforts not only attract more business but also enhance the overall concert-going experience for fans. 

Employee Engagement
Much of Taylor Swift’s stock with her loyal fans has been built through a long term emotional connection. Her music and her interactions with fans has connected with fans who trust her so much that many re-purchased almost identical recordings of albums they already had, in order to support her in her battle with the owners of her original recordings. Hospitality businesses can further enhance customer experiences by leveraging their employees, many of whom may be huge fans, to offer some real authenticity to their guest offering.  

Communicating with your team and empowering employees to engage with guests about Taylor Swift’s music, tour dates and related local events could make interactions more engaging for guests and fans. If appropriate, employees could wear themed attire or participate in Swift-related activities, creating a festive and welcoming atmosphere. In hotels, concierge services may want to brush up on their pop culture and could offer personalised recommendations for local attractions or Swift-themed experiences, to ensure visitors make the most of their stay. 

A Reputation at Risk
Despite the successes, there have been instances where businesses have damaged their reputations by exploiting fan enthusiasm. The most notable example is the Ticketmaster fiasco, where fans faced a chaotic and frustrating ticket-buying experience, leading to public outcry and a tarnished reputation for the ticketing giant.  

In some cities, hotels dramatically increased room rates once tour dates were announced, resulting in backlash on social media. Hotel prices in Sydney and Melbourne in the week of concerts averaged nearly double the price of the next week. In Dublin, hotel prices are nearly triple what they are when the Taylor Swift tour isn’t in town. While this is likely the result of dynamic pricing and very normal in the industry, it has sparked widespread frustration among fans. Such opportunism can backfire, damaging the long-term reputation of these establishments. 

Lessons Learned
The ‘Eras Tour’ offers valuable lessons for the hospitality industry. It underscores the importance of preparedness for handling large-scale events and the need for innovation in customer engagement. Businesses that strike a delicate balance between capitalising on the opportunity and respecting the consumer by investing in their experience, will likely reap long term rewards. By fostering a positive environment and creating memorable experiences, hospitality businesses can ensure that the ‘Taylor Swift Effect’ translates into long-term loyalty and not just a fleeting ‘Love Story’. 

Fair Pricing Strategies
Businesses should balance capitalising on increased demand with maintaining fair pricing. Overcharging can lead to negative reviews and long-term reputational damage. Offering value-added packages that justify higher rates without seeming exploitative is a better approach. 

Creating Unique Experiences
Fans appreciate creative and thoughtful touches. Developing themed packages, limited-time offerings or in-room amenities that celebrate the event can enhance the customer experience and generate positive word-of-mouth.  

Employee Engagement
Leveraging enthusiastic employees to enhance the customer experience can be highly effective. Empowering the team to be knowledgeable and engaging with Swifties while incorporating themed attire or activities can create a memorable atmosphere. Concierge services offering personalised recommendations can further enrich guest experiences. 

Engagement and Transparency
Engaging with fans on social media and through direct communication can build a positive relationship. Transparency about pricing and availability prevents misunderstandings and builds trust. Responding to feedback, both positive and negative, shows that a business values its customers. 

Collaborations
Partnering with local businesses can create more comprehensive and attractive packages for visitors. Collaborations with transportation services, local attractions, and merchandise vendors can enhance the overall experience for fans. 

Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour’ has highlighted the tremendous potential for economic uplift and innovative strategies within the hospitality industry. By learning from both the successes and missteps associated with the tour, businesses can better prepare for future large-scale events.  

The Hospitality People Group, remains dedicated to exploring all facets of the hospitality industry to provide relevant insights and support our clients’ people strategies. This commitment ensures that businesses can harness opportunities like the ‘Eras Tour’ to create lasting value and positive experiences for their customers. 

 If you would like to discuss your people strategy further, then please get in touch. 

Chris Denison Smith, Managing Director – FM Recruitment 
+44 20 8 600 1160 / +44 7775 711923
chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk  

Andrea Shaw, Director – FM Recruitment 
+44 20 8 600 1160 / +44 7714 236469 
andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk 

Taylor Swift – Image Courtesy of Paolo Villanueva