Industry NewsFan-Based Travel: Getting Onboard With the 'Gig Tripping' Trend

Fan-Based Travel: Getting Onboard With the ‘Gig Tripping’ Trend

The term “gig tripping” is typically used to describe travel planned specifically by fans bent on catching their favorite artists at out-of-town locations. However, beyond a welcome but brief spike in room rates, what might be more broadly termed event-driven travel has the potential to bring in guests who couple the main event with extra days spent exploring the host city and enjoying the services of hotels that can enhance the experience.

LODGING recently explored opportunities and challenges associated with this phenomenon with sources including General Manager John Green, whose newly renovated Radisson Salt Lake City Downtown, he said, is poised to entice visitors to this growing urban center.

A Trend for the Times

Of course, fan-based travel is nothing new. Long before Beyoncé’s BeyHive and Taylor Swift’s Swifties, there were Deadheads devoted to the 60s Rock Band The Grateful Dead, and there have always been sports fanatics converging on a host city—and driving up room rates—for major events like the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and NCAA finals.

Data specifically supporting gig travel includes Skyscanner’s finding that 44 percent of U.S. travelers were willing to fly short haul to see their favorite artists, and a 2023 survey from the travel platform GetYourGuide showed that 45 percent of Americans have been inspired to choose a specific travel destination by an event or experience such as Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Comic-Con in San Diego, Lollapalooza in Chicago, and Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

Accommodating the Trend

Green said the Radisson’s downtown location, close to top local attractions such as the Salt Palace Convention Center, Temple Square, City Creek Center, and the Delta Center, places this “upscale full-service” hotel in a convenient spot to take in whatever the big event there is. However, he said, there is plenty of competition. “There are 8075 rooms in the Convention District downtown, ranging from 2-star limited service hotels to the Grand America; ours is the sixth largest.”

He said the revenue managers sales staff, and other team members are generally aware of upcoming events, but claimed the very best source is Brandy Thomas, bartender in the bar at the Copper Canyon Grill & Tavern. “She keeps a list in her pocket and spreads the news among the restaurant and bar team. She makes sure they’re ready, sometimes with special drinks for the event.”

For some events, for example, the 2034 Olympics for which SLC is a strong contender, there is plenty of lead time, but a sudden announcement or even rumor can spur a spike in reservations. Green mentioned two recent events that nearly sold out the hotel and included some local people who took rooms to be part of the experience. “In January, which is usually a slow month, we picked up 35 rooms when there was a Tejano Act; then at the Delta Center when Big Bunny performed at the Delta Center, within four days of the event, 90 rooms that were not previously on the books filled with people looking for a place to stay downtown.” Upcoming events at the Delta Center include Olivia Rodrigo, Peso Pluma, Zach Byron, Blink 182, and Aventura.

Green commented that there is much to recommend in Salt Lake City for guests enticed to stay a little longer or return at another time. “It’s not just music or even bands that attract people to SLC/the downtown area. It’s a regional destination on the western side of the Rockies, extending to Nevada, Wyoming, and Idaho.” He noted, too, that the Delta arena will be hosting home games for Salt Lake’s newly acquired but still unnamed hockey team, which was formerly the Phoenix Coyotes.

Green said that the Radisson, which became part of Choice Hotel’s upscale group and their loyalty program, in 2022, has already undergone significant renovations, with more to come. They include a first-floor Executive Club Lounge, plus updates to all guest rooms, lobby, and fitness center. Improvements were also made to its on-site restaurant Copper Canyon Grill & Tavern. The next phase of the renovation, he said, will include the indoor pool, a coffee bar concept with breakfast foods, and a market with grab-and-go options for guests and locals.