VIP Taylor Swift ticket holders get obstructed view – are pricey packages worth the cash?

Complaints from Taylor Swift fans who paid £660 each for premium concert seats but say their views were blocked by stage equipment have thrown the spotlight on “VIP” tickets and exactly what you get for your money.

While some will be surprised that anyone would pay more than £600 for a ticket and a few items of “merch”, particularly in a cost of living crisis, pricey packages offering a supposedly once-in-a-lifetime experience are becoming increasingly common.

“We’re seeing growing fan demand for VIP experiences in the UK,” the ticketing company Ticketmaster told Guardian Money.

It says 80% of VIP ticket buyers are aged over 40 but adds: “There’s a growing interest among gen Z.”

Taylor Swift packages – good value?

The US megastar recently finished a string of huge UK dates and is coming back for five more at Wembley in August.

Last Sunday, the Guardian’s sister paper, the Observer, featured a letter from a reader who paid more than £2,640 for four tickets for one of the concerts in Liverpool as a treat for their daughters. When they arrived, the reader says they found their view of the stage completely blocked by a tent and large items of technical equipment.

Taylor Swift on stage at Wembley last month. Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

As well as standing tickets costing either £110 or £172 and seats priced at between £58 and £194, there were six different VIP packages on sale. Each offered a ticket (either seated or standing) plus the same set of “exclusive” merchandise, including a tote bag, four prints and VIP tour laminate. These packages ranged in price from £196 to £662. (All these prices are for the Wembley shows, although those for the other UK venues were very similar.)

The most expensive is the It’s Been A Long Time Coming package, and this is the one the Observer reader bought for her daughters. It promised an “unforgettable” seat.

Most, if not all, of the packages were quickly snapped up as soon as they went on sale in July last year, and therein lies the potential problem with these sorts of deals: fans are allocated a specific seat way before any detailed thought has been given to the stage configuration and where things such as the sound equipment and lighting rigs are going to be positioned.

The It’s Been A Long Time Coming package appears to be the least good value if you assume it includes a top-price (£194 at Wembley) seated ticket, as that means you are effectively paying £466 for the gifts. That is, unless buyers were allocated tickets that the organisers claim are even better than the £194 ones.

The Ready For It package, meanwhile, cost Wembley buyers £277 each and included a £110 general admission standing ticket – so you are effectively paying £167 for the extras. But this package also includes “early entry”, enabling fans to bag a prime spot, which some will rate as a valuable perk, although you only get a 30-minute head start.

Money-no-object meet and greets

In 2009, Britons were being offered Beyoncé packages where you got to say hello to the superstar, have your photo taken with her and watch the concert from a front-row seat. The price: £1,265 per person.

John Lydon recently finished a UK spoken word tour. Photograph: Dylan Coulter/The Guardian

One of the priciest VIP meet-and-greet ticket packages currently on offer is for Ms Lauryn Hill and the Fugees, who are playing London (the O2) and Manchester (Co-op Live) in October. The cost is £885 and £879 respectively.

Some gen Z-ers may be more tempted by the 21-year-old Italian-Norwegian singer Alessandra, best known for her Eurovision song contest 2023 track Queen of Kings, who is playing UK dates next February. VIP meet-and greet tickets for her London date at Shepherd’s Bush Empire are £121. You get goodies including access to the pre-show sound check and a photo opportunity using your phone “so you can share straight to your socials”.

The best-value package we found was for the former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon – AKA Johnny Rotten – who this week finished a UK spoken word tour. For about £90, fans got a VIP meet and greet including a photo opportunity and autograph, a goodie bag including a print of an original artwork by Lydon and a lanyard, and a best-in-the-house seat.

Weird and wonderful gifts and experiences

Cyndi Lauper has to be the winner of this category. Fresh from her set at Glastonbury, she is selling tickets for a UK tour next February and offering a VIP ticket package costing up to £482. In addition to a message delivered via QR code, you get an Uber to and from the venue, a pre-gig “exclusive on-stage photo” (but without Lauper present) and the chance to check out her “glam station and button-making station” – whatever they are.

Cyndi Lauper on stage at Glastonbury last month. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

For those flushed with cash …

General admission tickets for Kylie’s London Hyde Park show next Saturday (13 July) currently cost £111 but if you like the idea of separate toilets away from the masses, there are a range of VIP ticket options offering those plus, usually, a closer view of the stage … priced at between £324 and £434.

At the cheaper end of the spectrum, the Irish singer Hozier is playing Chepstow Racecourse in Monmouthshire, Wales, on Tuesday (9 July), and general admission tickets are £49, but for £79 you get a “premium view” at the front and access to “posh flushable loos”.

The Guardian

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