The Eras Experience: Leveraging big events for big business

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The Big Smoke looks at the economic impact created by consumer spending for The Eras Tour hosted by pop icon Taylor Swift, and discusses how businesses can leverage major events to get their share of the pie.

You said it was a great love, one for the ages / But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages? 

In an infamous line from one of her most beloved songs, Death by a Thousand Cuts,  American singer/songwriter Taylor Swift reveals the question asked by business owners who managed to capitalize on her sixth massive undertaking, The Eras Tour. With record-breaking impact, the cross-continent, all-stadium tour that began on March 17, 2023 is being described as the most prominent cultural phenomenon of the 21st century. Hitting cities such as Houston, Minneapolis, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and recently Melbourne and Sydney, fans are still reeling from the vehemence that is Taylormania. 

It could be the excitement of the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see their favorite pop star on stage, mingled with a little FOMO magic that caused The Eras Tour to become the first in history to surpass $1billion in revenue. TSwift herself is now being hailed as the first artist ever to achieve billionaire status off music sales alone – an incredible feat that no doubt would have the likes of Beyoncé and Rihana scratching their heads. But what’s more applaudable is the tour’s undisputed economic impact in the cities that it visited. 

Hospitality for one skyrocketed. Hotels and B&Bs reported full capacity during the tour visit, with rooms and services going at higher than usual rates in response to the demand. You probably couldn’t get your usual seat at your favorite lunch spot if you didn’t book ahead and way in advance. Apart from hospitality, other businesses, including retailers, hair and beauty services and pop up shops enjoyed a hefty bottom line during the tour period as well. The formula seemed simple enough: Taylormania + products and services Swifties were crazy about = big bucks. 

It was evident that Swifities were excited to spend their pandemic savings on anything that enhanced the concert experience and lengthened its memory. Social media was abuzz with restaurants posting their menu additions, which included cocktails in hues that held striking resemblances to Taylor’s famously colorful album covers. Clothing stores were touting their fashion prowess in TikTok stories about how to match items to create the perfect Tayloresque ensemble. It seemed that the socials had exploded into color and sparkles and friendship bracelets, and Swifites everywhere were eating up the fodder while businesses were racking in the sales. In California, it was estimated that the Swift stop would add $320 million to the Los Angeles County GDP. Not surprising, since according to one study, the average Swift fan spent US$1,327.74 on their Eras Tour experience. 

That’s a whole lotta money, so how does your business get in on it?

The moment I knew 

It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day running of a business, but when it comes to marketing, the best strategists know that being in the know and on the pulse is key to keeping your business relevant. Start at the beginning of the year and scope out your region’s or city’s calendar to see what major events may be in the works. Begin planning months ahead, so that you can launch and execute your marketing strategy with precision and perfect timing. 

Back when you fit into my poems like the perfect rhyme

Not every event is right for your business. Choose events that align with your brand, values and audience so that your association doesn’t confuse your customers. It was awesome to see Air New Zealand jump on the bandwagon by adding 2,000 seats including new flights when the tour was announced to hit Australia. Air New Zealand even named a flight NZ1989 after Swift’s 2023 album release. Proper alignment keeps your brand dear, shows your customers that you care about the things they care about, and may even allow you the opportunity to engage new audiences. 

And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes

Be creative to cut through the noise. When there’s a major event brewing, the atmosphere becomes saturated with talk. How you position your marketing in the midst of that can either get you sucked into the vortex or help you stand firm as a unique voice. Do the different, go big, try the intern’s idea. Whatever your tactic, ensure that it still communicates your brand clearly, delivers ROI and has a memorable impact.

Don’t treat me like some situation that needs to be handled

Getting your piece of the pie doesn’t have to break your budget or reinvent the wheel. Consider the products and services that you already own and how they would appeal to the event’s audience. You can revive or tweak an existing service or provide an add-on for value. A little effort, a lot of creativity and some edible sparkles can significantly boost your brand and revenue during an event. 

Stop checkin’ your mailbox for confessions of love

Instead, use your email lists to reach out with event-specific promotions, exclusive deals and flash sales for subscribers, especially if they aren’t on social media. Run polls and surveys about the event for added engagement. If everybody’s talking about it, join the conversation and be the one they listen to.  

Was it over then? And is it over now?

Think beyond the event date. When major events are happening, scores of tourists come in early and stay behind after it’s done to experience the city. Provide opportunities for them to interact with your brand pre- and post-event. Fairs, seminars, workshops or other mini events that bring event fans together in smaller groups are excellent ways for your brand to leverage the anticipation and memory of a major event.  

You’ve got no reason to be afraid / You’re on your own, kid / Yeah, you can face this.

To think of it, there are countless ways to leverage a major public event. Not everyone is going to have the likes of an Eras Tour visit their city, but the same principles can transpose to any public event in any part of the world. By staying agile and relevant, your business can tap into new markets, unleash innovation and see its own tangible economic benefits. 

Are you ready for it? 

Whether you’re looking to capitalize on the next big event or refine your marketing strategy for maximum engagement, The Big Smoke is here to guide your journey. Let us help you harness the power of events like The Eras Tour to elevate your brand and increase your sales!

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