Jason Felts, CEO of Virgin Produced, spoke to ListenSD about KAABOO‘s add-on VIP options, including what to expect this year and the origins and design of the program.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
ListenSD: As more and more festivals evolve their VIP programs, what was the process behind creating the innovative KAABOO Amplify offerings?
Jason: There was an under-served market with the adult demographic, and we decided we needed to create a VIP program that ultimately serves that market. The VIP Amplify was created to demonstrate what is normally a simple GA experience, and amplify it. The Hang Loose challenges a lot of VIP programs; KAABOO already gives you a heightened level of customer service and hospitality, so the VIP has to offer even more. If you want to amplify your experience with a VIP program, there are three levels- Hang Five, Hang Ten, and the Ultimate Hang.
ListenSD: KAABOO’s general admission experience already is very customer service focused; did that present a challenge, in coming up with amenities that Amplify can offer above and beyond the general admission experience?
Jason: Not really; our core demographic is an adult demographic who are looking for heightened hospitality and customer service. We did quickly realize that everyone wants a different type of experience; some are fine with VIP, but some want a platinum VIP, and some want an elite experience – that is our Ultimate Hang. One of our core differentiation is that we don’t just have GA and VIP – we have those different levels of VIP that allow you to choose your own adventure.
ListenSD: How have the artists taken to the various fan interactions offered through Amplify?
Jason: They love it. Artists are often reluctant to do meet-and-greets. Our artist relations are overseen by Virgin Produced; they are well known. The artist feedback has been overarchingly positive – they see we’re not just setting them up in front of a step and repeat to take a photo and shake a hand. Like we’re catering to our guests, we’re also catering an experience for them. Our challenge is constantly finding fun things to do, like the wine tastings with Pink or the surfing lessons with Anthony Kiedis.
ListenSD: How did the concepts for the BASK experience come about?
Jason: Our co-founder, Brian, was invited by his daughter to go to festivals. He always found the experience was a carbon copy of one another; they were dusty, dirty, and with no real differentiation. He started looking at ways to heighten the music festival experience. One of those was BASK, a Vegas-style pool club. He realized people love that party atmosphere, and BASK grew out of that. Indulgences (the spa-style amenities) offered guests to be able to go rest, relax, and recharge, whether it’s a vitamin B-12 IV Drip or a massage. But it’s also about no porta-potties; there is no one aspect that was overlooked in trying to refine and improve the festival experience.
ListenSD: Having three years under your belt, what have you learned that we’re going to see applied differently this year?
Jason: We’ve grown considerably; given that a core element of our brand is customer service, we need to ensure we can continue to deliver that kind of service. We work aggressively to ensure the site map is done in a way which is efficient and allows people to move from stage to stage freely, to be able to get to all the experiences – the music, the art, the food, the comedy. The site map is continually refined. Keeping Palate’s food and beverage options fresh is a big focus. We’ve learned from our RIFD wristbands, so we can tell what vendors and concessions are hot spots, and we’ve taken that data to learn and make the experience better.
ListenSD: What’s the general distribution, between the Hang Five and Hang Ten?
Jason: We limit each program. Hang Five has the most customers of the Amplify program. We have the largest VIP program in the festival business; the distribution is certainly more Hang Loose/GA than VIP.
KAABOO Del Mar hits the Fairgrounds September 14-16; get your tickets and Amplify upgrades here.