Are B.C. businesses ready for Taylor Swift?

The 12-time Grammy winner will be entering her Vancouver era this December, and local organizations should make the most of it

On a breezy, sun-drenched day last July, I leaned my head outside a friend’s Seattle apartment while my sister sprinkled pink glitter into my hair. Below, the street was buzzing with people—some in pastel blush and candy-­coloured dresses, some in liquid eyeliner and knee-high leather boots. Sidewalk salespeople hawked sequined cowboy hats and bottled water. And blasting from speakers everywhere—the neighbourhood pubs, the bicycle “taxis,” the loft apartment I dangled my now-itchy head out of—was the voice of one artist.

Taylor Swift was in town, and best believe the city was bejewelled.

According to a 2023 “Swiftonomics” survey by software company QuestionPro, attendees of Swift’s Eras Tour spend about US$93 million per show. That’s not just on tickets, of course: hotels, restaurants, retailers and other businesses are experiencing a brief, meaningful economic boom. Seattle embraced the Swifties. And in December 2024, Vancouver has the same opportunity.

Wildest dreams

“It’s not quite the Olympics,” says Morgan Westcott, associate dean of marketing management at BCIT, “but every chance we get—as an industry and as a community—to host something on this level helps to propel us in an upward direction.” When I was in Seattle last summer, the entire city felt enchanted by Taylor Swift—and that was part of the fun. It made me want to make that cross-border drive again, even if there was no chance of seeing the 12-time Grammy award winner.

“This is an opportunity for brand recognition for Vancouver as a destination,” confirms Westcott. She explains that beyond making an impression on in-person visitors—both local and international—B.C. businesses have the potential to reach new markets via social media. Fans posting about the concert might just be bragging about their very obscure Folklore-inspired outfit, but every view, comment and like is an opportunity for the city. “It inspires another generation, or other groups of travellers, to consider Vancouver,” Westcott explains.

A place in this world

The most obvious and immediate economic impact that the Eras Tour will have is on the hotel industry. Westcott points out that Vancouver had Canada’s highest average daily room rate in history in summer 2023 (reaching $346) with an occupancy of 87 percent, and predicts sky-high numbers during that December weekend thanks to the concert.  In Seattle, I was lucky that I had a friend whose apartment I could glitter-ify myself in—the only hotels available were over US$400 per night.

“It just reignites that bigger conversation around increasing our capacity,” says Westcott. She brings up the potential solution of converting office spaces into hotel rooms, and comments on the economic opportunity for Airbnb owners (a smaller group now, as Vancouver’s new rules allow short-term rentals only in residences in which owners live—and only one per property). Some Vancouver anti-heroes are already going so far as to rent out parking spots in their downtown buildings for December 6, 7 and 8.

Champagne problems

There’s no doubt the Eras Tour will bring money to Vancouver, but Westcott warns businesses—particularly those in hospitality—to prepare for trouble. “We don’t tell Taylor how to run the show,” she says with a laugh, “but she’s coming in what is already a really busy time of year, especially for service-facing businesses.”

Restaurant owners, for example, can expect an influx of reservations, but must ensure they have the staff to pull it off (and they might want to brush up on the provincial rules around overtime work). “Do you have a reliable temporary work pool? Do you understand the legislation around labour relations? If you don’t have staff that know how to run the point-of-sale system or what’s on the menu, if you don’t have clean bathrooms—all of that makes up the guest experience,” says Westcott.

At the downtown Seattle spot where my sister and I grabbed lunch, the servers understood that the majority of diners that day were following a strict timeline. No matter how delicious a meal is, visitors won’t tolerate waiting too long for a bill when there’s a $50 T-shirt line to get to.

150,000-ish people earned a seat at the Eras Tour in Vancouver—but millions more are left with “waitlist” status and teardrops on their guitars.  “Businesses can capitalize on folks that are on the waiting list, and create some kind of community around that,” suggests Westcott. For example, a bar might host a Taylor Swift night and offer discounted tickets to anyone on the waitlist. It might not be the hottest ticket in town, but it’s better than nothing.

Taylor Swift The Eras Tour

Everything has changed

“If you are tangential to the tourism industry and you don’t already know it, now is a good time to recognize it,” says Westcott. Thanks to the new phenomenon of going all-in on concert outfits (see: the spike in metallic bodysuit purchases when Beyoncé brought Renaissance to Vancouver or the bald-cap boom when Pitbull came to town), ’tis the damn season to prepare your clothing or beauty retail biz for Taylor. And thanks to the diversity of the Eras themselves—shimmery gold for Fearless, ethereal and woodsy for evermore, badass snakeskin for Reputation, et cetera—nothing’s out of style.

And with that comes more service opportunities: we’ll need sewers to hem sequined pants and drycleaners to tackle delicate lavender gowns. “Swifties are just on another level,” says Westcott. “If you can lean into that Swiftie culture and do it in a cute or cheeky or clever way, I think businesses could see an immediate bump up.” Art studios could host Taylor-themed paint nights. Drag performers could embrace the lavender haze.

But once Taylor leaves, savvy marketers won’t be out of the woods. “How do you turn that into a longer-term strategy?” asks Westcott. “Take the momentum from those fun, shorter-term creative things and use them to forward your business.” Translating your tactics from this one-time event into a sustainable plan is what will set your biz apart from the rest—so think about the end game.

You need to calm down

Back to December. There are hundreds of thousands of people with millions of dollars to spend coming to the city for just three nights. Regardless of how many Swift songs made it onto your Spotify Wrapped list (mine was 4/5—Olivia Rodrigo squeaked in at fifth place), the pressure is on to mastermind a marketing plan that makes the most of her arrival. Where do you start?

Westcott suggests turning to the experts, like Destination Vancouver, Destination BC, BIAs and hotel associations. “Industry groups are the ones that are really going to be able to set strategic direction, but also help businesses understand their part in it,” she explains.

That said, the most valuable experts might be closer than you think. “Customer research does not have to be this hard, expensive, sophisticated thing,” says Westcott. “Where are the Swifties on your team?” She suggests simply reaching out to the diehard fans around you—the ones who know Taylor Swift all too well. (This is basically what our editor-in-chief did when assigning this story, so I can confirm that it works.)

“Ask the people you know what kinds of things they would want to see, what kinds of touches would really make them feel that coming to your business is part of this experience,” says Westcott. If you have an idea, speak now.

On the Radar

No body, no crime

Don’t blame her—demand is high, supply is low. Here are the numbers:

  • It’s estimated that over 30 million people registered to get tickets to the Canadian leg of the Eras Tour (Vancouver and Toronto).
  • The capacity of BC Place is 54,000.
  • The average American fan spent US$1,300 on the concert.
  • An Eras Tour concert runs about 3 hours and  15 minutes, with 44 songs  on average.
  • The most expensive resale ticket currently available for a Vancouver concert is $15,003. The cheapest is $1,245.
  • 71% of American Eras Tour attendees say the money they spent for the experience was worth it. 91% said they’d  go again.
  • I don’t know about you, but there are 22 references to Taylor Swift songs in this story—not counting this sidebar.

Sources: Question Pro, CBC