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'Your ticket is your room': New concert series launching in Calgary on July 1
CALGARY -- A new Canada-wide concert series launching in Calgary aims to put live music back in front of its fans, and fill hotel rooms at the same time.
Calgary hoteliers are scrambling to fill rooms as with less than two weeks until what would have been the start of the Calgary Stampede, many hotels are nearly empty.
“It's been devastating," said Sol Zia, executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association.
"We're entering into July, which would be, you know, 10 days of Stampede and the days before and after. Hotels would normally be averaging 80 per cent occupancy. To be honest, we'll be lucky to hit 20 per cent occupancy in the peak month of July.”
Meanwhile the Calgary music scene is struggling to recover after months of being silenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were all wondering how are we going to survive?” said Rob Cyrynowski, president of Livestar Entertainment.
"It's very uncertain for everyone in that industry, not only the artists and musicians, but the ecosystem of agents and promoters and production, people that all support this."
Hotels Live takes on both problems at once by repurposing some hotels to serve as concert venues. Under the plan cooked up by the team at Showpass, rooms in hotels with balconies overlooking a pool or patio will become private box seats. After consulting with health authorities, they have limited room occupancy to four people per room.
“Fans can watch their favorite artists in a socially distanced and safe manner, but enjoy live entertainment, because for the foreseeable future, we don't see that coming back," said Showpass’s Joel Jelinski.
“This is that kind of first step to restart both the entertainment and the hospital hospitality industry.”
Hotels Live searched across Canada identifying hotels which had the design features needed to turn into temporary concert venues. The first is in Calgary at the Downton Ramada Plaza Hotel.
“Your ticket is your room. So you buy your ticket online with your food and beverage packages and parking, if you'd like," said Ramada Plaza GM John Mytz.
"And you get to stay in the room and watch a great live concert here. It does put some of our staff back to work at the hotel, and bringing people into the hotel and just providing that service."
The first Hotel Live concert will be held on July 1, a Canada Day celebration featuring the Tragically Hip tribute band The HIP Experience.
“We were quite calculating to pick a Tragically Hip tribute for Canada Day. One of Canada's most beloved bands," said Cyrynowski.
"Following that, a few days later, when Stampede would typically take place we have a Garth Brooks tribute. And then two weeks later a band from here in Calgary, Pink 4reud a Pink Floyd experience. There are many more to come. We're looking at family friendly shows. We're looking at some bigger named artists."
Mytz says hotel staff are being trained in new protocols supplied by Alberta Health Services (AHS) before being scheduled to work the concerts.
“Because when they left there were no real protocols for social distancing, wearing masks, and that kind of thing," said Mytz.
“So there's so many procedures to go through and get them trained.”
Jelinski is optimistic the Hotels Live music series will strike a chord with fans and lead to something more permanent than just a COVID-19 solution.
“Would you rather be able to watch an amazing concert on the floor with a bunch of other people, you know, in a sweaty atmosphere in a mosh pit? Or would you rather be drinking a glass of wine eating charcuterie in a hotel room in a box suite that has a preferred view?” he said.
"This can be a way for hotels and tourism in general to drive traffic to areas during low seasons of the year, where they want to bring in more guests. So I really do think that this model has more legs and just as a COVID response."
More information about the venues, artists, and ticket pricing can be found online.