After two years of canceled or reduced events, summer 2022 looks like it has the potential to become a carefree season with plenty of festivals, events and social gatherings.
And while pandemic restrictions have been lifted in most places, allowing large-scale events and attractions to open at full capacity, there’s still one hitch – it’s going to cost a lot. .
Mass labor shortages have made it difficult and expensive to find people to work for those events. And the rising cost of everything it takes to run them means that a summer of freedom and fun is coming at sky-high prices, but many people are still willing to pay.
Festival budgets have increased this summer, and organizers are trying to find ways to avoid passing on that extra cost.
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Knoebels Amusement Park is a family-owned park in Pennsylvania that’s been in operation since 1926. It’s also the country’s largest, free-entry park.
Stacy Yutko, Knoebels’ director of public relations, and her team knew they would need a creative plan this summer if they were to stay afloat.
To address the labor shortage, they went to job fairs and local schools to recruit.
And they are giving a lot of perks to employees. Along with park discounts, they also offer bus service to and from work, bonuses for anyone working more than 30 hours a week, and a scholarship program for commuter-age workers. learn.
Yutko says the creativity has paid off, even if it’s still not quite the pre-pandemic experience returning travelers will get used to.
The park has reduced hours of operation, and some games that require additional operators are inactive.
Yutko says the alternatives are working, but it will come at a heavy cost — the park is paying an additional $1.5 million this summer in pay increases alone.
“When we raised prices at the park, it was definitely directly related to the increased cost of doing business,” she said.
Yutko says the price increase doesn’t seem to affect park access, Yutko said, this season is about the same as last year.
For now, people seem to have accepted higher costs throughout this summer. In the May, US retail sales and food service still 8.1% higher than May 2021.
Familiar woes: Labor shortages, inflation, supply chain problems
It has been widely reported that mass labor shortages are affecting everything from Pool arrive festival. Follow American Chamber of CommerceThe hotel and foodservice industries have struggled to keep steady workers during the pandemic reshuffle.
Resignation rate for leisure and hospitality workers over the past two years is higher than in any other sector at 5.7%. By comparison, the dropout rate of workers in the wholesale and retail trade, the next highest, was 3.7%, the Chamber said.
Cities across the United States have closed some of their pools because there are not enough lifeguards. Many are offering signing bonuses and salary increases.
“I hear almost everyone getting a raise, everyone getting a rate increase,” said Tom Gill, vice president of the American Lifesaving Association, which represents the country’s open water rescuers.
“And a lot of these places don’t have the budget to be able to raise these amounts quickly. So it’s just, again, fighting for a limited number of people. “
With the cost of fuel, food, labor and everything else increasing, price increase for summer activities is inevitable and unavoidable.
“When you start using your budget – if all your vendors and vendors have to pay more,” said Steve Schmader, president and CEO of the International Festivals Association. for everyone… the budget goes up across the board,” said Steve Schmader, president and CEO of the International Association of Festivals.
Schmader says that budgets for festivals have increased 30-40% this summer, and event organizers are having to be cautious about passing on that additional cost.
The experience is more expensive but that doesn’t stop people
Over the course of two years, many of those events had to be cut, canceled, or continued barely taking place. For now, because of costs, they still have to be reduced, or otherwise become more expensive, which is a difficult balance for organizers, Schmader said.
“We don’t want you to go to an event and not be able to buy corndogs or whatever you want to do for your family to have a good time. You still want to keep the price affordable. And at the same time [the operators are] pay more for everything. “
Christina Fuller, who runs the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, said the festival will be similar to what people were used to before the pandemic, but the cost to host it has skyrocketed.
“We’ve seen triple-digit increases in several key line items of festival budgets,” says Fuller. “And we’ve got a few different carriers – some reasonable, some not – which is two or 300% more than in 2019.”
The festival has made some creative tweaks to try to keep ticket prices affordable.
Fuller says it has brought VIP cards to fans who are willing to pay for a more premium experience, in order to make a difference. And the demand for passes is strong.
Even the ticket prices are still increasing. In 2019, the general admission one-day ticket is $25; This year, it’s $40.
Fuller says the increased price tag doesn’t slow ticket sales.
“Three years ago, life was different. Everything in our lives is more expensive than it was back then. And so, our fans have been content, excited, patient or impatient to wait.”
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