Back in the days before (COVID) times, breakfast at the hotel before the trip to the airport – not to mention a waiting car on time and a plane to board – was something that many global touring artists and their crews probably took for granted.
This is where Nick Gold, president and founder of Entertainment Travel, steps in. Business travel isn’t just planes, hotels and cars—for Gold and his company, it’s every logistical detail in between.
So when 20 percent of the higher-end hotels Gold uses still don’t provide breakfast after staff and supply chain shortages, it’s his job to adjust his budget to include buying breakfast when the kitchen’s the hotel is not open.
“Obviously, the hotel you book and what you get out of it depends on your budget,” explains Gold. “If you’re with a high-end artist, you know you’re going to get the great hotel that will include Wi-Fi and breakfast. Probably 20% of what I book now doesn’t include breakfast. … if it doesn’t, for some performances I just turn it on. Most people are none the wiser for wanting to have it.
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it is only a small piece of the puzzle that organizes the tourist trip. But when even something as basic as breakfast is fraught with complications in the post-Covid world, well, you get the idea.
Gold’s agency caters specifically to the entertainment industry and its unique travel needs. Entertainment Travel was established by Gold, himself a former tour manager, in 1984 and is highly sought after for its attention to logistical detail and service.
And it’s been made even more difficult by the uncertainty of rampant inflation, as well as staff shortages across the travel chain — from reduced commercial flights and ground transportation to hotel closures to staffing cuts.
“From a flying perspective, it has been mentioned that most of the US carriers will not increase capacity internationally for a while, maybe in or after this summer, once they can reassess how this travel period has gone,” Gold says about the air transport situation. “So right now you have more people trying to fly fewer planes and even fuel prices are projected to be higher because of the demand.”
Connections are everything, even in the travel and hospitality business. Good relationships allow companies in many cases to negotiate special rates for groups and individuals in major markets such as Nashville, Los Angeles and New York, as well as in smaller markets.
But even the best connections won’t buy you a room at a favorite hotel if it’s closed, which happened recently with Gold. On the day he spoke to Pollstar, he learned that one such hotel in Germany he wanted to book had closed.
“It just happened today and I’m devastated,” says Gold. “The Park Hyatt in Hamburg has closed and I have been using it for years. It will be 2025 when they rebuild Hamburg. So what will happen between now and then? All I know is that now I have to fight [for favorable rooms and rates elsewhere].”
However, Gold says there is light at the end of the long tunnel.
“Rental cars keep getting better. [Rental agencies] get more cars in their fleets, but it’s still a challenge depending on which city you’re trying to get out of. But I know all these car companies are trying to get their fleets back to where they were, and it’s a slow process.
Flying continues to require additional operational effort as the number of domestic and international flights continues to lag behind the number of aircraft in the air prior to March 2020.
“I haven’t seen an increase in the number of aircraft being serviced,” explains Gold. “Getting engaged is slow and expensive. … I think that will continue into 2023 and easily into 24.
“I think only then will we see how all the different suppliers in the industry, whether it’s airports, hotels, ground transportation, continue to recover from the mess.” Just because we’re busy doesn’t mean everything’s gone.”