VIP Packages – are they really worth it?

If I don’t get comments on this topic, I will know that all of you are sleeping.  Or going to shows.  Or sleeping because you went to a show.  Before I get into today’s topic, I thought I’d commiserate with all of you who aren’t going to Vegas.  I thought I was fine with not going until today, and of course now I’m wishing I could be there.  It’s the “curse” of being a parent (and I really wouldn’t trade it – you’ve got to take the bad with the good) though – there’s no way I can be there having fun when I’ve got three kids to take care of here, and oddly, my husband just can’t take off work whenever I want to go somewhere.  We all make choices, and while I’m not going to Vegas, it’s not at all lost on me that I’m traveling to Chicago in less than a month, and then the UK a month after that, and I do have the Valley Center show on Saturday. I am fortunate!  Regardless, I could certainly use a day or two playing like a grown up.  Couldn’t we all?

Yesterday I received my VIP goodies in UPS – they were brilliantly packaged in a poster tube! In the package I received a T-shirt, a laminate (meant for a lanyard) and a poster.  Pictures below:

The t-shirt is decent quality, it’s lightweight, but definitely not tissue weight, and it’s generously sized.  I ordered a large and it’s going to be big on me – which in my case is what I wanted.  The one thing that would have been nice, but it wasn’t at all promised, is that it have VIP on it somewhere – and really I think the key would have been to have it be a tour design shirt with the US dates on the back.  (I don’t even know if they have a shirt for this tour) That would have truly been commemorative, but as I mentioned – that wasn’t what was promised, so it’s not as though they didn’t deliver.

The laminate is just that – a small laminate that is meant for hanging on a lanyard that was not included.  This is the one item that I think is lame.  There are no tour dates on it other than the year, and compared to others I’ve received in the past – which already came hanging on a lanyard – I don’t see the point.  The photo used is the photo on the front page of DD.com – not a bad picture to use, but there’s really no point unless you’re into collecting them, which I suspect many VIP’ers must be.

The poster is the best item included in the package by a landslide.  It’s heavy weight posterboard (nearly cardboard, but not quite as it can be rolled and put in a poster tube without causing damage) and the photo is gorgeous…and recent…as can be seen by John’s blonde bangs. (thank you thank you thank you John Taylor.)  The poster is so nice that I dared ask my  husband if it can be framed and hung in our room. (as opposed to being hung up in my tiny little closet along with my other Duran Duran posters that have somehow lasted through the ages!)  Jury is still out on that one, but given the fact that HE suggested framing it…I may just have a chance!  The only thing missing on the poster in my opinion, well two things actually, are Dom Brown (granted he is not a member but it just seems kind of empty without him) and the signatures of the band.  Not a likely addition that could be made, but one can certainly dream.

All of this, plus a guaranteed “premium” seat was an extra $125 USD on top of the ticket price.  Total for my show in Valley Center was about $250.  My seats (my husband Walt is going with me) are 3rd row in the middle section of the arena floor and if you’re looking at the stage – I’m on the aisle to the right of Simon’s spot.  Not bad seats by any means, but again – is it worth the price?

Back in 2005, I went as a VIP to the Chicago show.  Again my seats were 3rd row, this time on John’s side.  I remember getting a lanyard, a decent tote bag that had Duran Duran printed on the bag…I can’t remember if we got a t-shirt or not (I have one from that tour, but I don’t know if it came in the package, anyone remember?) and we had a pre-show party with a couple drink tickets.  I have to admit that at the time, I did sort of feel like I was a VIP.  It was the new-ness of the situation I’m sure, along with the excitement of being at the show with my friends that made it worth my money.  The party was OK, but it was all so rushed that none of us really had a chance to enjoy it – although at the time, I still had fun.  I believe that my ticket for that show was somewhere around $300 plus fees, and yes, the price hurt.  Some time after that I did VIP for the fan show in NYC – I think I paid closer to $350 or more for that show and I was up in the balcony.  The party was nicer with really good food, I received a very nice bag that was both suede and canvas with the show printed on the side along with a poster and a lanyard (a very nice lanyard – the best quality one I have), but the sting was that my seat was ridiculous – and ridiculously priced for what I ended up with. After that I swore that my VIP days were over.  Famous last words, right?

One thing I need to mention is that in addition to the other goodies mentioned, there was always the dangling carrot of having an teensy-weensy chance of winning a Meet and Greet with the band.  If you can’t tell by my tone, no, I’ve never won one.  The closest I’ve come to a meet and greet is a signing that I waited hours for over the course of two afternoons/evenings in Los Angeles – and yet I’m still thankful I had the opportunity.  I know of many fellow VIP’ers that have won not only one VIP meet and greet, but several over the years.  Apparently my band karma sucks or I’ve pissed the wrong person off.  Those are the breaks.

I should also back up and mention that in more recent years, there were differing levels of VIP – silver, gold & platinum – and of course with each level up there was a price premium and the promise of more merchandise and better tickets.  I think that for the most part, Amanda and I stuck to “gold” which put us between rows 5-10. I know people who have payed as high as $550 for their VIP tickets, and I can’t imagine the merchandise they were given was any better or worse than I have right now. VIP prices have definitely gone down with this tour, and the merchandise quality has probably taken a little hit as well.  There’s no longer a chance for a meet and greet with the band, either.  While my seat for Valley Center is good, I probably could have taken my chances and gotten a seat on Ticketmaster, or even gone to StubHub and paid a premium but still ended up with a good seat.  

I’m not sure what exactly it comes down to for me, but I’ll try to explain my thoughts as succinctly as possible.  I know that I can go to StubHub and pay somewhere between $200-$300 for really good tickets to any Duran Duran show and be relatively near the front.  Not front row, but not horrible seats either.  I also know that I can use my DDM membership and get VIP tickets for nearly the same price point that are going to probably be in the first 5 rows or so and I’ll get some merchandise as well.  I also know that I’m not happy with just any seats these days.  I want good ones unless it’s GA, and then I relegate myself to the back because I refuse to wait in line for an entire day to get to the front.  (maybe I’d do it again if I were with the right friends – but to just wait by myself?  Nah!)  I guess my point is that if I know I’m already going to be paying $200 or so, I’d rather just do the VIP thing, end up with a guaranteed good seat and some fun merchandise on top of it all.

It all comes down to budgets and choices, doesn’t it?

-R

3 thoughts on “VIP Packages – are they really worth it?”

  1. I swear, I don't think we've ever disagreed about anything (except RCM and while I don't love it, I don't have that strong negative reaction to it either). That last paragraph is EXACTLY what I would say about why I get VIP when I do get it.
    The fact that the laminate is not on a lanyard is absolutely lame for lack of a more harsh sounding word. How much is a freaking lanyard? $1.50? That's just bad. I suppose it's a slight improvement from the spring VIP package since you at least got the merchandise BEFORE the show. I am doing 1 VIP (out of 3 shows) this time and eagerly awaiting my swag. As you know, I am lucky enough to be a radio winner this time so that ups my 2nd show from regular tickets to what we used to have for VIP- party, meet and greet, PLUS soundcheck. I will be getting that VIP poster signed along with my m&g pic with Sue from 2008 (it's what she would have done). Interesting that this opportunity is given to radio station winners but not the fan community. I have listened to every call-in the station has had and so far most people have not been the screaming up and down type of enthusiastic fans you would expect. Makes you wonder why the hardcore fans i.e. fan community are not given the chance for M&G at all on this tour. Is the band obligated to do these radio promos? Would there not be any m&g if they had their choice? It certainly seems that way based on past comments they (JT) have made and also from the lack of “platinum” VIP this time around. – Michduran

  2. Ah Yes VIP. I have pondered the same as you. Of course, this year would be the year I buy it since I have GA/Pit at MSG. But hence, I didn't have the money to fork over for three tickets. With VIP to MSG, you get early entrance w/ a pit ticket. I wonder if they would upgrade prior to the show…

  3. I've only done VIP once, this past spring for the Chicago show at the House of Blues. The only reason I did was because it came with early entry, and since it was a GA standing-room-only thing I didn't want to get stuck in the back. And I'm telling you, it was the best money I ever spent since we ended up in the front row at the feet of Mr. John Taylor! That was fantastic.

    I was a bit disappointed with the merch, though. We didn't get it until WEEKS after the show (that's not so bad, really), but there was also supposed to be a photo book as part of the package. First there was an email apologizing for the delay but there were quality-control issues and they wanted to make sure it was the best possible product for us, blah blah blah. More weeks go by and then there's another email, saying they had decided not to proceed with the photo book, and instead would give us a tote bag and a $15 refund. Some of my friends have received the tote bag (I haven't gotten mine yet) and report that it's your basic freebie tote bag that everyone gives away these days, which I think is a poor replacement for a photo book that would've been sold for probably $30 or $40 at the merch table. But it's a minor quibble I guess. And like I said, I would've paid that money to be in the front row and not cared about getting any merch at all.

    I'm also surprised at the lack of meet & greet on this tour. Maybe they're tired of meeting & greeting the same people over and over again. I can't blame them. VIP isn't something that I can regularly afford to do, and I probably won't do it again unless there's a meet & greet, or it's an early entry thing like at the House of Blues.

    I'm also scratching my head here, wondering why they couldn't give you a freaking lanyard for your laminate!? The decisions are a mystery sometimes.

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