Free stories left to read

Skift Pro subscribers get unlimited access to essential travel industry news

Skift Take

Taylor Swift is a modern day Midas – everything she touches turns to gold. Fans can’t get enough of the Eras Tour, brought to cities around the world by one of the shrewdest business minds of a generation.

Sarah Kopit, Skift
February 7th, 2024

As a pragmatic Canadian, Paul Sehr was not going to pay C$2,000 a piece for Taylor Swift concert tickets – that was the going rate for nosebleed seats on StubHub after all six of Swift’s scheduled Toronto shows sold out instantly via Ticketmaster.

But then there was the matter of his daughters, aged 14, 14 and 11. All massive Swifties. And all very much wanting to see Taylor play live on the Eras Tour. 

So what’s a dad to do?

“On a whim, I searched around for different concert dates. See what prices look like in other cities,” Sehr said. “Especially Brazil.”

In Rio, tickets were under C$200 each. After that, the math was easy. Sehr figured he could spend C$10,000 to see Taylor Swift in Toronto. Or spend the same amount to travel with the family for a 10-day South American adventure. 

“I wouldn’t have typically gone to Brazil to see a concert,” Sehr said. “But I’d never been to Rio and I always wanted to go.” 

Sehr and family said the concert (and the vacation) was epic.

The Taylor Swift Economy

Swiftenomics. Swift Inc. Whatever it’s called, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the massive scope of Swift’s economic influence on modern American life. 

In 2023, the 34-year-old singer was named Time’s Person of the Year. She outsmarted the crypto kids. Caught the attention of central bankers. And self-funded her own blockbuster movie. 

Los Angeles Tourism CEO Adam Burke told Skift that one stop of the tour brought $320 million in incremental business sales, 3,300 jobs and an additional $160 million in local wages. A new line to the city light rail saw a 250% increase in passengers, and nearly 5,000 more trips every night of the show. 

The singer caused a so-called ‘SwiftQuake’ in Seattle when dancing fans shook the city to the magnitude 2.3 on the Richter scale. 

And in a romantic subplot, Swift’s relationship with Travis Kelce breathed new life into the National Football League, along with millions of dollars and an army of fresh female fans. It enabled bonding between dads and their tween daughters everywhere. American Airlines even named a flight to the Super Bowl in her honor: AA1989, naturally.

Soon this writer will be picking up a gaggle of 9-year-old Brooklynites from an after-school theater class dedicated to all things Taylor Swift.

The Era’s Era

The Eras Tour is a sprawling, five continent, 150+ show extravaganza. It began in March 2023 and has Swift criss-crossing the globe into the winter of 2024. 

Researchers estimate the tour could generate approximately $5 billion for the U.S. economy alone, with each concert goer spending about $1,300 per show on hotels, outfits, and other merchandise. “If Taylor Swift were an economy, she’d be bigger than 50 countries,” said Dan Fleetwood, President of QuestionPro.

Fans, affectionately termed “Swifties,” are at the core of her meteoric rise. They aren’t mere onlookers. They are a part of the narrative, shaping the experience of the Eras Tour to the tune of over $1 billion dollars in ticket sales.

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that with nine months still to go, Eras is already the most profitable concert event of all time

A Travel Power Player

Swift’s impact on the travel sector is just as vast, with major influence over tourism dollars, hospitality spending and the short-term rental market. Each of Swift’s shows is like the economic engine of the Super Bowl. 

The difference is the Super Bowl happens once a year. As of this writing, Swift will perform the Eras Tour over 150 times in cities across the world, with more cities still being added.

“The ripple effect of Taylor Swift’s Era Tour extended far beyond the devoted fans who filled stadiums,” said Pranavi Agarwal, senior research analyst at Skift. We estimate the tour generated an incremental $1.2 billion for the U.S. travel industry in 2023 across flights, hotels, short-term rentals and other additional expenditure.” 

U.S. cities lucky enough to get a slot have seen monthly hotel room revenues up over 7% on average, according to analysts at Bernstein. When the Eras tour came to Chicago in June, it was the best weekend in the city’s history. Occupancy hit a record 97%.

“If your city is selected, you are stamped approved,” said Chris Gahl, executive vice president of Visit Indy in Indianapolis. “The perception of sophisticated, cool, hip, up-and-coming, ascending – is real. And that’s part of the allure of hosting.”

The financial implications of Swift coming to town hasn’t been lost on all levels of government – including heads of state. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau publicly slid into Taylor’s Twitter feed, trying to sweet talk his way into tour dates after Swift announced legs in the UK and Europe.

World leaders, take note. It worked.

Swift added Canada to the tour. It’s estimated the three Vancouver dates alone could bring C$700 million to the city, according to the CBC.

Short-Term Rentals 

For short-term rentals owners, concerts like Swift’s can provide a boost when some of the industry has been in the midst of the return-to-office doldrums. 

“Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is having a heavy impact on short-term rental demand,” said Eric Schueller, Evolve’s executive vice president of Revenue. Average daily rates at Evolve have more than doubled in locations for Swift’s 2024 dates. “This is likely because fans that missed the 2023 shows are taking advantage of their last opportunity to see the tour, and are more willing to travel for it – which is driving demand in areas that would otherwise be experiencing a slow season.”

Swift gives the biggest boost to those places that aren’t typically tourist hubs and in a booking lull. 

“High level, when the STR industry has revenue falling, Taylor is literally a windfall almost everywhere she goes,” Jeff Breece, director of revenue management at Beyond Pricing, told Skift in October. “Entire cities see double-digit increases in occupancy and ADRs, with the mid-tier cities like Pittsburgh, PA, benefiting the most.” 

But for other unlucky hosts, fanatical Swifties have proved too quick – the dynamic pricing models can’t keep up. 

Kevin Pusateri, a short-term rental owner with three properties in Indianapolis, was caught by surprise when the city’s tour dates were announced. “The Swifties booked within seconds,” Pusateri lamented in a phone interview. He wasn’t able to change his prices fast enough and didn’t feel it was right to cancel. 

A Sea of Glitter

It’s not just the major players like host cities, airlines and hotels that benefit. There are massive gains for businesses as varied as experience providers, interior designers and wedding planners.

Contiki, the European-based travel planners, offers a “Taylor Your Contiki” package for five cities hosting the Eras Tour in 2024.

Hospitality designer Jenny Yi created an entire short-term rental for a client in Nashville, Tennessee with each room inspired by Swift’s music videos.

“She’s become an economic force,” Yi said, predicting Swift’s influence isn’t just a temporary blip. “It’s a business boom. It’s a people boom and an employment boom. If I had an investor who let me do properties based only on the Eras Tour, I would’ve been able to retire by now.”

Traveling to a wedding soon? The wedding website The Knot recently surveyed 200 couples to ask whether any aspect of their upcoming nuptials would be inspired by specific cultural moments – Taylor Swift ranked number one. 

Event planners, get ready. 

And Then There’s the Super Bowl

This coming weekend, Taylor Swift x Super Bowl LVIII will provide some zeitgeisty lightning-in-a-bottle that businesses and marketers can only dream about. It will cross generations and genders.

Television advertisements for Sunday’s game were sold out by last November – early in the Swift/Kelce courtship and long before the Chiefs were a lock for the big game. The going rate then was $7 million bucks for a 30-second spot. That looks like a bargain now. 

Online travel agency Booking.com, which advertised during The Eras Tour movie, has a spot during the Super Bowl. It expects record breaking ratings given Swift’s likely appearance. 

“This year, advertisers (and the sport!) get an added bonus of potentially reaching new audiences, especially Gen Zers, given one famous face in particular who will no doubt be in attendance,“ says Booking.com’s chief marketing officer, Arjan Dijk, noting Swift also had an extraordinary impact on travel and local economies last year.

The Hollywood Reporter believes Swift’s presence could boost ratings by a staggering 15 million viewers.

And yet there are still so many questions around Swift and the Super Bowl – most of which have significant play with overseas prop bet shops: How many times will we see Swift during the game? What will she be wearing? Will she even be able to get there with a concert on the other side of the world the day before?

Yes. That’s actually a question! 

But, deep breath, we at Skift are here to help. Self-identified Swifie and Skift airline reporter Meghna Maharishi (and even the Japanese Embassy) reports Swift can get from her Tokyo show to Vegas in her private Dassault Falcon 7X.

Here’s the math: Swift’s show is scheduled for 6pm local time on February 10 at the Tokyo Dome. That’s 17 hours ahead of Las Vegas. It will take Swift’s Dassault Falcon 7X, flying at an average speed of 550 MPH, 13 hours to get to Vegas. That’s plenty of time to attend the 3:30pm PT game on February 11th.

And lucky for businesses, Swifties seem to feel there’s no such thing as too much Taylor. 

Michelle Basiorka, who hosts a short-term rental called The Swiftie Shangri-La in Nashville, has traveled to see the Eras Tour in five different cities – Vegas, Nashville, Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. 

Is she sick of it yet? That was asked and answered with an emphatic, “No!”

Basiorka currently has tickets for the Eras Tour in Amsterdam in July.

Sarah Kopit is editor-in-chief at Skift. Contact her at [email protected]
Graphics by Beatrice Tagliaferri

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Subscribe to The Daily

Skift’s morning newsletter delivers breaking news, features, and exclusive analysis from around the world straight to your inbox, six days a week.