Hospitality veterans Rob DelliBovi and Elana Leaf have a simple idea to meet the demand of concert fans stuck at home. The concept: host concerts at hotels with multiple floors and have fans watch the show from their room’s balcony.
“Out of moments of crisis come great opportunities,” explains Leaf, who, along with Dellibovi and millions of other Americans, has had to make a career shift in the COVID-19 economy. Dellibovi is a successful hotel and travel consultant who has worked with some of the top brands in hospitality, while Leaf is a veteran of live events, marketing and branding with a diverse roster of clients that has included Google, Nike, Amazon, Live Nation and Made Events. From 2014 to 2017, Leaf was the director of special events at Insomniac, where she worked on a number of big budget projects, including the company’s marquee festival Electric Daisy Carnival.
Dellibovi and Leaf are imagining the hotel concerts as an immersive experience. “From the moment you arrive, you could enjoy a high-end overnight experience at a luxury hotel with special VIP, merchandise and culinary and drink packages ordered to your room,” explains DelliBovi, who is holding meetings with different hospitality groups to pitch the idea. Fans would watch the shows from their balconies, socially distanced from other fans, while out-of-work artists could take home decent money if they sold out the three-dimensional gigs. Add best in class cleaning and a virus mitigation plan while charging about $400 to $500 per room, and DelliBovi and Leaf think they have a winning plan to generate badly needed revenue for the hard hit hospitality and live music industries.
“You can’t cheat on social distancing requirements when you’re standing watching a concert from a balcony, you can’t go near each other even if you try,” DelliBovi tells Billboard. “At the same time, you have all these hotels sitting empty, burning through millions of dollars, and you have artists that want to play so that they can generate income and pay their bills. I think that we can bring these two groups together and create a concept for fans that are dying to get out of the house and find something to do.”
Since the pandemic hit, promoters and entrepreneurs have tried their hand at different strategies for staging safe, socially-distanced concerts that aren’t facilitated through a computer screen. Companies like Live Nation and Nederlander Concerts have successfully staged drive-in concerts, while country artist Brett Kissel even performed a “boat-in” concert in British Columbia for 2,000 fans on kayaks, motorboats and inner tubes. Entrepreneurial artists and promoters have suggested everything from separating fans in individual glass pods to having them wear protective suits with filtered air, but few if any of these ideas have gained any traction.
Even the hotel concept has its limitations, explains Leaf, who says only a couple dozen hotels have the correct architecture — an interior ring of rooms spread across multiple floors with the ability to see a single focal point — to accommodate this model. That includes the Saguaro (pictured above) in Palm Springs, although the two executives say they are in the discussion phase with all of their potential hotel partners and haven’t finalized any deals yet.
They would also have to contend with local regulations, curfews and noise limitations, explains DelliBovi, who has worked in the hotel business for two decades, including stints with the Dream Hotel Group, the Cooper Square Hotel and GrandLife Hotels. In 2018 he launched his own company, RDB Hospitality Services.
“COVID-19 has forced everyone to think outside of the box when it comes to finding new ways to generate revenue and engage customers, and hotels are one of the few sectors that really have room to grow and think outside the box,” Leaf said.