The summer concert season is upon us. Concerts offer a great opportunity to host an event with business associates or staff. If your guests like music and can handle a chaotic crowd, then a concert is a great way to engage, reward, and build a relationship through a shared experience. After all, unlike sports, no one loses at a concert.
When planning always try to find out the music tastes of your guest or guests. Bringing a hard rocker to a country concert can be a mea culpa moment and you may not get the result you anticipated. Find out if they have a favorite band or music genre. You don’t necessarily have to ask, you can look for signs. What music station do they tune to in their car? If a song comes on do their feet start tapping? Which is not to say asking is a bad thing. The old reliable, ” I have some extra tickets to such-and-such concert” can be the simplest way to gauge interest as it becomes both an invite and a test of their interest in one brief statement. Of course, that may not work if you have a larger group in mind or a more elaborate event planned.
A lot of options exist for hospitality at concerts. While corporate entertainment is most often associated with major league sports and their associated luxury suites and premium seats, the current state of concert and festival ticketing has evolved their own VIP ticketing packages and programs. From VIP parking for easier access and special VIP entrances to bypass crowds, to pre- and post-concert parties and meet-and-greets.
Many stadium and arena concerts have the same luxury skyboxes and premium seats available for events with all the amenities for a great, stress-free and spectacular experience. The lease holder of the suite may have a right of first refusal, but these suites often are released for these one-off events. Not to mention that many suites may have been unsold to begin with. It’s always wise to start with the primary venue to get a feel for availability and prices. Most will have a department that deals exclusively with premium seats and luxury suites. They may be hard to get hold of initially, but be patient and persistent – after all, their job is ultimately to sell these suites.
After checking with the venue directly, it may be time to see what the secondary market has available. Many suite holders will be selling their unused suites, either with or without approval from the venue – as some venues prohibit the resale of suites. Still with the new tax code and a changing marketplace these antiquated policies may be changing. The first places to check are Craigslist and eBay – but of course, always exercise caution. There are a few reputable companies out there that specialize in single event suite sales. Two are SuiteHop and Suite Experience Group. These companies have put a lot of time into building relationships with both the teams and venues and often represent the suite holders directly.
Should you go for front row seats? Every live concert promoter worth their salt now has VIP Packages and VIP Experiences as a part of their overall ticket selling strategy. Most include convenient parking, premium seats and often some form of catering. Back stage passes and pre and post-concert parties may also be included. They are often available on the secondary market for a premium but getting them directly is always preferable. Still, even when sold out good seats are often available. Depending on the number of guests you are bringing and the amount of lead time, the premium can be slightly higher than face value to many multiples of face value. Planning helps, but don’t let that deter you as there are often excellent VIP opportunities available up to a few weeks before the show.
If delving into the secondary market – always use a reputable company – as there are many fly-by-night ticketing operations out there and even more horror stories dealing with tickets that don’t show up, or worse, don’t work at the door. I like to deal with Stubhub and SeatGeek whenever possible. They have established a solid reputation, offer some guarantees and have spent years nurturing relationships with the promoter and venues for a seamless transaction.