Kaaboo, which is billed as ‘the ultimate adult weekend getaway for sophisticated concertgoers’ and prides itself on being ‘indulgent,’ has signed a deal with The Del Mar (Calif.) Fairgrounds that will keep Kaaboo at the site for the next 10 years.
The festival, which kicked off just last year, combines extravagant entertainment, posh amenities, high-end shopping opportunities, deluxe food offerings, craft beer and wine tastings and seems to have struck a cord with the sophisticated festival-going demographic.
“You have never been to a festival as upscale as Kaaboo,” said Tim Fennell, general manager and CEO of the 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.”
Kaaboo and The Del Mar Fair originally had a seven-year deal, but after Fennell and his board saw what Kaaboo accomplished in its inaugural year they were anxious to tie the festival down for as long as possible. “I would have signed Kaaboo up for 20 years if they would have gone for it,” said Fennell.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Bryan Gordon, founder and CEO of Kaaboo, did say that it’s a “partnership with a small ‘p.’ The wording is a little more complicated but essentially we really just rent the space from the fairgrounds and all ticket and ancillary revenue are part of the Kaaboo P/L sheet.”
Fennell said the festival attracts a slightly older crowd then 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.”
Kaaboo will be on the fairgrounds this year from Sept. 16-18. It has a line-up that includes Aerosmith and Jack Johnson, playing their only U.S. performances in 2016, plus Jimmy Buffett, Fall Out Boy, Lenny Kravitz, Chris Issak and many more.
Last year’s festival attracted over 55,000 ticket buyers and Fennell expects this year’s paying crowd to be upwards of 75,000.
“Kaaboo is the perfect adult escape,” Gordon said, “We set out to be the premiere concert destination in Southern California and we’ve delivered.”
Both Fennell and Gordon are glowing about the relationship between the fair and the festival. “The Del Mar grounds are the perfect environment for our festival,” said Gordon. “It’s in beautiful San Diego, three blocks from the beach and ocean; it’s a gorgeous 350-acre facility with amazing infrastructure, near the I-5 and has great public transportation. We looked at many venues before we picked this as our home. And the Del Mar Fairgrounds team is fantastic, from senior management all the way down. It’s a great partnership.”
Fennell had just as many complimentary things to say about Gordon and Kaaboo. “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 and they even install a swimming pool.”
Some of the other ‘indulgent amenities’ include air-conditioned restrooms. “No Porta Potties on these grounds,” said Fennell. “Many of the indoor venues are air conditioned as well.” A pavilion called ‘Indulgences’ is designed as a place to go to for “me time and to refresh yourself,” said Gordon. “It will offer women make-up, hair blow-outs and foot and neck massages; the guys can look forward to a shave and a haircut. Luxury retail will also be available.”
“There is not another music festival anywhere that caters to this demographic,” said Fennell. “Kaaboo is all class and top of the line.”
Gordon said that Kaaboo employs 2,200 people from the management team to bartenders and ticket takers. The fair provides hundreds more staffers.
Gordon said that they are making several enhancements to the guest experience this year. “It’s more a case of refining and not making any whole scale changes,” said Gordon. “We’ve improved layout and flow. And we are planning a few surprise fun things that I can’t reveal yet.
If you came last year you had a wonderful time and are already sold on this year’s Kaaboo and the next 10. Word of mouth does our marketing for us.”
Interviewed for this story: Tim Fennell, (858) 792-4490; Bryan Gordon (303) 957-2015