This article, by Rachel Ingram, appears in the 2022 edition of Victor Magazine. Read the full story here.
What do a rock star and a world leader have in common? A lot, it seems, when it comes to travel anyway. Due to the complexity and changing nature of a music tour, organising transport for such an event is not unlike arranging an official tour for a head of state. In fact, in certain situations, it can be more complicated. As such, music touring is considered the highest echelon of corporate travel.
“The protocols for flying a rock star or a world leader are very similar,” says Bobby Perez, Executive Vice President of Victor and head of the Victor for Music division. Confidentiality and privacy are key to the operation, he reveals, as are timing and security.
Both also come with large entourages, although celebrities often have the added pressure of fan presence and a vast amount of equipment. The Victor for Music division launched in 2012 and quickly snowballed into a trusted travel partner powering the world’s most demanding tours. The experienced team has managed more than 2,000 tour legs for the highest performing professionals in the film, music, and live entertainment industries. Flyers have collectively sold 1.5 billion albums, won around 50 Grammys and more than 200 MTV Music Awards.
Once a tour booking is made, a dedicated Victor Tour Director works with the tour’s manager to build and manage the travel itinerary. “We do everything for them, to the point that they don’t even have to think about what airport they’re going to,” Perez says. “As well as planning the most efficient route, we also work out what is going to be most cost-effective, as well as what’s going to be quickest and easiest for the passengers, such as hubbing from one major hub or flying from city to city every night.”
Perez and his team then work with leading aircraft operators to get the talent to their next location in the most time-effective way possible. They also organise ground transportation to and from the venue, often under police escort, as well as all the paperwork required for luggage and equipment, plus all onboard needs such as catering.
During the tours, dedicated representatives handle arrangements from start to finish and adjust their working hours to suit. “These guys are not working nine-to-five hours, so we’re up with them until they land in their next city, which could be three o’clock in the morning,” Perez says.
The majority of trips are 60 to 90 flight segments over a two- or three-month period, during which time unforeseen circumstances can cause schedules and locations to change at the last minute. “The logistics part of it is very complicated. You have to anticipate the client’s needs before they even have to ask,” Perez says.
While Victor prepares for any eventuality, the changing nature of a tour means that it’s not unusual to alter plans at the last minute. From re-routing to avoid gathering fans at an airport, to scrambling fresh aircraft if there’s been a fault with the plane, the team has seen it all. For one rock band, they found themselves transforming a cargo plane into a passenger plane in the middle of the night. “A lot of our job is anticipating potential issues and having remedies ready to go,” Perez says. The pandemic allowed the team to further hone its skills through various international rescue efforts which included medical repatriation and organising solutions to get key workers in, and at-risk people out, of certain locations.
The division built its reputation on word of mouth and many tour managers come to Victor exclusively. “In the charter world, shopping and comparing prices is part of the game, however when it comes to tour managers, they’ve got so many balls in the air, they prioritise trust and reliability,” Perez says. “What we do is just the tip of the iceberg of what the tour managers are doing. The more we can do without having to bring them into decision making, the better.”
As for the talent, the Victor team works to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. “In between shows, this aeroplane is like their home from home,” Perez says. “They’re in a different place every night so the only thing familiar to them is this aeroplane. In a perfect world, we’ve got one dedicated flight attendant for the duration of the trip, so they become familiar with each other.”
Beyond music tours, Perez and his team organise travel for corporate trips such as Fortune 100 roadshows, during which CEOs visit multiple cities in a short space of time. “We understand that when you’re a CEO of that calibre, time is money,” Perez says. “So, anything we can do to increase efficiency is a win for everybody.”
Interested in learning more about Victor for Music? Get in touch with our Commercial Jets division – our experienced team will be happy to help.
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