Traveling to and with the Sound of Music

Tourism has many forms, and the niche tourism market is not only a growing market, but also understanding one niche helps tourism and travel professionals to apply the same principles to other niche markets.  One such market is the music and music festivals as a travel and tourism motivator. 

Although often overlooked, both music and tourism share a great deal in common.  Both are good for the soul, both attempt to lift a person's spirits and both help the person leave the doldrums of everyday life and enter into new and challenging worlds.  Certain areas of the world have done an excellent job of using music both as a way to create special niches and as a way to brand their location.  For example, Jamaica is known for its reggae music. Mississippi is known for its blues, and the song Hava Nagilah immediately reminds the listener of Israel.  In other locales music forms a part of the local “high cultural” market. Italy is known for opera, Portugal for its fado music, and New York for its philharmonic and opera houses. 

Musical tourism then has a far greater impact than most people believe.  From opera houses to concerts, from rock stars to local musical traditions if used properly music not only sooths the spirit but also adds to a community's economic outlook.  Music and music festivals are great ways then to diversify one's tourism product and at the same time provide the local community with added quality of life.  Music can become a unifier of people and a way to share common experiences in a multi-cultural setting.  To help you develop the musical part of your tourism industry consider some of the following:

-Know what type of music your community has to offer.  The world of music is a world that is highly diverse. Find out if your musical offerings match the types of lodging and foods that you community has to offer.   For example, if your community has classical forms of music, will your hotels fulfill the needs of people who enjoy this type of music?

Document the economic value of your musical offering to the community.  Often people believe that music produces little in the way of economic development.  Reality says that this is not true, but it is essential that you are able to prove this reality. Produce questionnaires that track how many people have spent at least one night in a place of lodging due to your musical offering, do the same with gas stations, restaurants, and visits to other attractions.  Do not forget to include salaries given to employees as part of your economic impact.  Then provide this information not only to the tourism community but also to the media. 

-Coordinate your musical offerings with your overall tourism picture.  For example, if you are going to hold a music festival, it may be best to hold it during your community's low season rather than high season.  However, if held during the low season, make sure that hotels will be open and that there is an adequate number of restaurants and other tourism essential services available.  Musical concerts and festivals may be great ways to fill in the low season.

-Use musical presentations to attract good media attention.  In most cases musical presentations are neither political nor controversial.  The musical concert not only draws a crowd, but this is a good way to receive free publicity for your community.   Whenever possible incorporate your locale's name into the festival so as to gain further media attention and publicity.

-Make sure that you have a handle on the concessionaires.  Musical festivals often attract all sorts of people who are there  selling both legal, and unfortunately at times, illegal products.  Make sure that your security personnel are well trained and know what can and cannot be sold.  Be careful to involve your local police department in everything from parking and crown control to drug control and lost children.

-Use your musical offering to generate a multiplier affect.  That means that you want your music goers to use local eating establishments, stay in local hotels, and visit other attractions.  Have stands at the music experience that indicate where to eat, sleep and visit other area attractions.

Use your musical offering to help develop a “sense of place”.  A sense of place is that which makes a locale unique and worth visiting.   One feels this “sense of place” in such diverse locales as: Hawaii. Trinidad, or Scotland,. In all these locations the music has come to be more than something heard, it becomes a total symbol of a locale's culture, food, language, and even geography.  It is this sense of place that provides the uniqueness that is the tourism experience.  What is unique about music is that often where it occurs produces its own sense of place. An example of this phenomenon is the Woodstock festival.  The festival was located in a remote field filled with mud. The festival was a three-day concert that took place in 1969 and unfortunately also included sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. Although the festival is not one that many may want to repeat it did become an icon of the 1960s hippie counterculture. The festival took an obscure field and turned it, for better or worse, into a visitor location.  It was the music plus festival that defined the sense of place.

-Connect your musical offering with those of other communities or locales.  Just as in many other forms of tourism, clustering, joint marketing and regionalization increase the value of your tourism product.   If there is only a concert than people will come to the concert and leave, but if the concert is part of a total package than the music will act as a draw but produce a long tail effect that multiples profits throughout the community. Musical tourism is about partnerships and the more partnerships that there are; the more successful is the music tourism.

-Think about the parallels between team-oriented tourism such as sports tourism and people's loyalties to specific bands or singers.  There may be numerous parallels between sports teams and musical groups.  Just as the sports team attracts followers from around the world, so too do musical bands. It is essential that the precautions and marketing techniques used in team-oriented tourism also be considered when developing a music-based tourism.