KAABOO Aims For Luxury

Music festival focuses on upscale hospitality

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: September 13, 2017

The upscale KAABOO music festival plays Sept.15-17 at Del Mar, Calif., Fairgrounds.

KAABOO music festival, Del Mar, Calif., set out to conquer the premium festival space three years ago with its mix of hot acts, gourmet food and drinks, upscale retail, concierge service and over-the-top amenities like air-conditioned bathrooms and lounges, a pool with private cabanas, onsite spa treatments and surfing lessons.

Based on its growing attendance, it’s succeeding and taking advantage of the current trend to produce festivals that cater to audiences willing to pay more to be pampered.

“KAABOO is focused on hospitality,” said Jason Felts, chief branding and marketing officer, KAABOO, “It’s our underlying theme.”

According to Felts, last year’s attendance numbers were impressive, nearing its 40,000-capacity for all three nights, and this years’ presale is outpacing last year.

The festival opens its doors this year, Sept. 15-17, with headliners including Muse, Pink, Alanis Morissette, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and EDM King David Guetta.

This year, we are focusing on highlighting ‘five senses’, he said. “Our returning stars to the festival are the music, the comedy, the culinary, the arts and the indulgences.”

Returning favorites include the Las Vegas-style pool day-club, BASK; the spa, where guests can get massages, hot shaves and hangover IV’s; and Mercedes-Benz car service.

New experiences will include an increased comedy lineup, and an after hours nightclub called Club Elevate, which offers bottle service and top DJs.

The nightclub is being presented in partnership with MGM’s Jewel Nightclub and will be open Friday and Saturday night. “Inside the club will be aerialist dancers and will feel very Vegas,” said Felts. Entrance to the nightclub is included with the KAABOO ticket, and it will be on a “first-come, first-served” basis. It will be open after the final performance each night and stay open until 1 a.m. Table prices range between $350 and $1500 depending on placement and package size.

BASK_2.jpgBASK day-club and pool will cool off guests attending KAABOO, Sept. 15-17.

The popular day-club and pool, BASK, presented in partnership with MGM Grand’s Wet Republic, will be open each day. Weekend passes are available for $100; cabanas are available for $2000-$2750 depending on the day.

Single day passes are $150 and a three-day pass is $299.

The VIP packages are already sold out. The Hang Five package cost $899 and includes a premium stage viewing area at each stage; access to Hang Five viewing platforms, including seating and shade; exclusive culinary options for purchase in dedicated zones; priority access lane at event entrances; private restroom facilities; and access to the Thursday night Sneak Peek party.

The Hang Ten package cost $3,499 and includes access to front row viewing areas; access to on-stage viewing platforms; a personal concierge pre-event & access to on-site hosts; access to the KAABOO Artist Lounge; exclusive meet & greets; complimentary food prepared by a private chef in designated areas; complimentary beverages in designated areas; complimentary parking; and the Thursday Night event.

There will be extensive retail, featuring over 100 items, with a good portion KAABOO-branded. “We want to grow the brand to a 365-lifestyle brand,” said Felts.

KAABOO covers 200 acres, will feature four music stages; a culinary stage, where eight chefs including Robert Irvine, Richard Blais, Chris Adams and Michael Voltaggio will perform cooking shows; a comedy stage; art installations; and a silent disco in addition to the two clubs.

“There are a lot of great festivals, however we really feel that KAABOO is shifting the paradigm to offer guests a different experience,” Felts continued. “The experience and amenities that guests find at KAABOO are very different from what guests experience at most festivals, from the quality and magnitude of our contemporary art work to the quality of gourmet culinary offerings and diversity of our lineup, down to offering all flushing toilets for public use.”

KAABOO’s plan is for steady growth, according to Felts. “We are continuing to grow the KAABOO brand in the industry, as well as the general community, with organic, word-of-mouth. It is our goal that KAABOO becomes a household name, attracting guests locally and from outside the region.”

KAABOO signed a ten-year deal with Del Mar Fairgrounds last year.

“You have never been to a festival as upscale as KAABOO,” said Tim Fennell, general manager and CEO, Del Mar Fairgrounds. “No other festival in the country has as much going for it as KAABOO. It generates a lot of revenue for us and employs thousands of people. We want to keep it around as long as possible. This is a long range deal.”

Indulgences.jpgIndulgences at KAABOO include a spa where guests can get massages, shaves and haircuts.

“The KAABOO team takes the customer experience to an extreme level,” said Fennell. “They think of everything and execute it flawlessly. The food and beverage is all world-class.”

Fennell said the festival attracts a slightly older crowd than many other festivals do. “The average age seems to be people in their 30s and 40s. The average spend is between $50-$100 not including the ticket.”

The costs of putting on the event are enormous. “They spend between $8-$10 million on talent alone,” said Fennell.

He expects the net to the fairgrounds to be between $900,000 and $1.1million. KAABOO’s profits were undisclosed, but Fennell said, “Most music fests lose money the first two or three years.”

“There is not another music festival anywhere that caters to this demographic,” said Fennell. “KAABOO is all class and top of the line.”

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: September 13, 2017