Pollstar’s Production Quarterly Transportation Special (Hub)

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American Motown vocal group The Supremes arriving at London Airport (now Heathrow), London, 15th March 1965. From top to bottom: Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson. The group are in the UK to take part in the Tamla-Motown Revue tour. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Welcome to Pollstar’s Production Quarterly Transportation Special.

Transport is the lifeblood of the live industry. Without it, there are no shows, artists, fans, flash pots or crews to get to The Greek on time.

This issue examines freight, motor coaches, air charter and commercial transport as well as some of the challenges facing the industry today, including weather, gas prices, inflation, labor shortages and travel visas (see Leadoff, here). We’ve come a long way since the days of the press lining up on Heathrow’s tarmac to photograph the Supremes disembarking. Nowadays, however, there’s far more at stake and it’s imperative that transportation operates as efficiently and expediently as possible.

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Doing More With Less: Road Crews Contend With Labor Shortages, Frenetic Pace (Transportation Special)
By Ryan Borba

The production side of a concert tour has always been overlooked, with skilled labor working long hours and dealing with unusual problems of unusual magnitude to make sure the show happens safely, on time and with the spectacle expected. Maybe it should be no surprise then, that, post-COVID, touring crew are similarly overlooked and feeling the brunt of current challenges brought upon by factors out of everyone’s control and that no one could have seen coming three years ago.

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Keep Truckin’ Along: Freight Gets Its Groove Back (Transportation Special)
By Ariel King

Three years ago, those out on the road with tons of artists’ touring equipment realized they needed to go home. Venues were quickly shutting their doors. The general population was running to the grocery store, loading up on toilet paper as they covered their mouths with whatever fabrics they could find. Their current job was done, and who knew when it would come back.

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Why Pay For Carry-On? Charter The Friendly Skies (Transportation Special)
By Andy Gensler

Today’s commercial airline industry itself may be the best form of advertising, promoting and marketing for chartering aircraft, especially if one needs expedient, reliable and hassle-free air transport. With extreme weather and dramatic names like “atmospheric river” and “Arctic bomb cyclones” wreaking havoc on air travel; as well as detestable added fees for the “privilege” of choosing a coach seat with no legroom, carrying your own luggage, eating inedible airline food and spotty Wi-Fi; along with the possibility of a system-wide computer outage disrupting thousands of flights, as happened in January, there’s more than a few reasons to charter your own airplane.

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Commercial Travel Still A Challenge, From Booking Flights And Hotels To Finding Breakfast (Transportation Special)
By Debbie Speer

Back in the Before (COVID) Times, getting breakfast at the hotel before the ride to the airport – let alone having a waiting car, on time, and a plane to board – was something a lot of global touring artists and their crews probably took for granted. That’s where Nick Gold, president and founding partner of Entertainment Travel, comes in. Commercial travel isn’t just about the planes, hotels, and cars – for Gold and his company, it’s every logistical detail in between.

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The Coach Industry: Back But Trying to Keep Up With Demand (Transportation Special)
By Oscar Areliz

After nearly two years of being somewhat in stasis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the live entertainment industry came back with a vengeance in 2022, shattering box office records and establishing a new normal that goes beyond what was seen pre-COVID-19. Not a wave, but a tsunami of shows and festivals inundated the live market last year, and the coach, an industry term for “bus,” companies are trying to keep up with the high demand.

Weathering The Storm: Communicating & Rerouting So Shows Can Go On (Transportation Special)
By Sarah Pittman

Alongside COVID-related shutdowns and cancellations the last few years, the live industry has also faced an increase in extreme weather events. Depending on the region, everyone in the business from promoters to production teams is dealing with a range of challenges, whether we’re talking tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding or wildfires.