Dan Berkowitz Invites Music Fans To Consideritdan
Dan Berkowitz, founder and owner of the travel agency Consideritdan, is enhancing the concert experience by creating travel packages which take care of everything from shuttle service, hotel bookings, concert tickets, and even cocktail parties. Marked by luxury and convenience, Consideritdan aims to eliminate much potential stress a fan may incur, making weekend traveling and festival living easier and more comfortable. Essentially, Consideritdan is the equivalent of Expedia.com but with personal assistance curtailing to live music. Dan Berkowitz explains the concept behind his travel packages and how a simple shuttle bus became the launching pad for changing the way dedicated fans can experience the music they love.
Jared Hecht: What exactly is Consideritdan?
Dan Berkowitz: Consideritdan is something I started to help people get to shows in an easy and safe manner. It’s something I started doing back in 2005 when the Disco Biscuits played three nights at the Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, NJ. I ran shuttle buses to and from the Hilton in East Brunswick, NJ to the Starland Ballroom. That ride was notoriously dangerous for several reasons there are seven heavily used bars at the Starland Ballroom. It was really a safety issue. Several buses sold out and everyone loved it. It was a huge hit, and people were able to have a better time at the shows because they didn’t have to worry about driving home. The venue loved it because it was a proactive move to be more responsible. The band loved it because it kept their fans safer. Everyone had a really good time. Then I became tour manager for the Disco Biscuits and the idea got put on the backburner for a little bit. When the Biscuits and I parted ways I immediately started working for Electric Factory Concerts and moved into the Live Nation offices.
Through my experience with Live Nation and Electric Factory Concerts, I threw together the first travel package for the annual Jam on the River in Philadelphia. It included hotels, shuttles, and tickets to the shows. Over 150 people signed up for the package and it was a massive success. Similar to the Sayerville buses, I had 100% customer satisfaction. It really saved a lot of people from the unnecessary frustration of dealing with the trivial and painstaking aspects of showgoing. At that point I realized that this is what I loved. I enjoyed getting people to and from concerts in the safest way possible and enhancing the concert experience. I always knew I wanted to work in live music and have had numerous jobs I have valued and cherished, but at Jam on the River I realized I found my niche. Immediately thereafter I started Consideritdan full time. I still work closely with Electric Factory Concerts and the Disco Biscuits but now I’ve expanded, doing packages for Camp Bisco, Echo Project, the Langerado RV Resort, Umphrey’s McGee at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and Summer Camp. It all really happened organically.
JH: A lot of people underestimate the importance of traveling safely to shows.
DB: I know. I realized that in 1997 when I started seeing Phish concerts. I was always the guy who made the plans and drove to the shows and made sure that everyone got there okay. I’d even order the tickets.
JH: Sort of like a mom
DB: I wouldn’t say a mom. More like a Great Aunt. But like I said it was a very organic thing that happened and I love what I do now. I feel lucky that I found something like this that helps so many people out. It sounds so clichut literally everyone wins. The customers are happy because there’s a one click alternative for all of their concert needs. They no longer need to go online to get tickets, rent cars, book hotels, and deal with all the elements. They literally make one click on their computer screen and they’re all set. The bands are happy because it’s a more inclusive deal they can offer. They’re not just saying, “Here’s a concert, deal with it.” They’re saying, “Here’s a concert and this is how you are going to have a good time.” Promoters are happy because it makes life easier for more people to get to shows. The three canons of my travel package are hotels, shuttles and tickets. But I try to spice it up a little more with meet and greets and poster signings which make shows more special for fans.
JH: You also have these VIP tickets where people can come to concerts and be treated like kings.
DB: Another part of Consideritdan consists of VIP areas at festivals. The first VIP experience we created was revitalizing the VIP area at Camp Bisco this past summer. Jon Fordin from Meatcamp and I are the closest of friends and we decided that Camp Bisco needed to have VIP because that’s simply what people want. They want to be more comfortable. I was very lucky to be able to work with Vivian Oswald who has done numerous VIP areas at major festivals and she had a firm grasp of what it took to make it happen and I had a firm grasp on what people wanted. It was like magic, everything we wanted to happen happened. I think we had 280 people in VIP at Camp Bisco and that was a wonderful experience. We promised a lot and delivered on everything. That led to Meatcamp’s Echo Project VIP which went even better than Camp Bisco. It’s a whole different side of Consideritdan but it still falls under the umbrella of enhancing the concert experience.
JH: What inspired you to create this full service travel agency for fans? Is it based on convenience, safety, experience?
DB: Being able to provide people with a service that they formerly did not have before is incredible. It is more convenient. It is safer. When I was going to Phish shows as a kid I was always willing to pay for convenience. It’s rewarding to see people so happy and appreciative for what I do. I always ride the shuttles with them and hear their suggestions and that motivates me. I go back to work and all the conversations I’ve had motivate me. I feel blessed that I’m able to do this. It’s a perfect fit that I don’t take for granted at all.
JH: Would you say that interacting with your clients, riding the shuttles and personally helping and listening to them is a trademark of Consideritdan?
DB: I’ve been to every single event that I’ve done and that will continue. I’m lucky because many of the people that I’ve worked with are great with people too. Everyone at Consideritdan believes that the number one priority is keeping customers happy. That’s the biggest part of the business. You could go to Expedia and Ticketmaster and book hotels and buy tickets and pull it off, but what sets Consideritdan aside is that we just don’t offer a service on the front end. We are always there. We’re there when you get there, we’re there to make sure everything is going okay, we’re there to make sure everyone is happy with their travel package, and we’re there to make sure that everyone is happy with their VIP experience. That’s what we pride ourselves on. People aren’t just buying a travel package, they’re paying for an experience and a service.
JH: Do you plan on strictly catering to the jamband world or do you plan on expanding into all genres of music, or even doing packages for non-music events?
DB: Right now we’re sticking to the jamband world. There are too many projects on the horizon to be thinking about expanding. But through Electric Factory Concerts we’ve done packages for both the Beastie Boys and M.I.A. Both sold out. If you’re in a major market and have a hot show on a weekend, people are always willing to travel. For the M.I.A. show we did shuttles from the Loews and had access to the most exclusive afterparties. We had forty people travel from New York City to see what Philadelphia had to offer for the night. That showed me that people are willing to travel for music that they feel emotionally connected to. We’re used to being emotionally connected to Phish, the Biscuits, Umphrey’s, String Cheese, moe., Widespread Panic. But people have emotional connections to all types of music and they’re willing to travel for it because it means something to them.
JH: How would you say a VIP experience changes the overall festival or show experience?
DB: The VIP experience is based upon the notion that people are willing to pay more to be more comfortable and have more privileges. We provide people with those comforts. Our VIP lounges look like the nicest backstage rooms imaginable. We have five furniture living room sets, food all day everyday, unlimited beverages, an open bar, big screen televisions, a DJ booth, massage tables with masseurs, and computers with internet access just in case you have to turn in a last minute paper or project for your boss. Then there’s VIP camping with flushing toilets and working showers. I’m 29 years old right now and I consider going to a festival in normal conditions unbearable. I just can’t do it. I don’t have the stamina or desire to do so. If I was going to a festival I couldn’t not do it VIP. Gone are the days of cramming ten people into a hotel room and sleeping on a dirty floor.
JH: For a lot of people a VIP experience is about getting closer to the band. Part of what you do is serve as a liaison between fans and bands. You bring them closer together than other fans can get to them with front row viewing sections, meet and greets and just general interaction. How would you say your past experience going to shows as a regular concert viewer has inspired you to bring fans closer to bands?
DB: I’ve been lucky to become very close friends with some very talented musicians. But the thing is they’re just people. They’re really just people. And I know it sounds clichgain but if you get people together who have a common interest they’re going to have a good time. I try to break down the barrier between fan and band. There may be some misconceptions about some of the bands on behalf of the fans and vice versa. But these are all alleviated through the VIP area. At Camp Bisco all the bands were hanging out in the VIP area more than they were hanging out backstage. Barber had a poker game and Brownstein and myself were driving through the VIP area on a golf cart handing out ice and water. It was the place to hang out and that’s special for concertgoers because they get to interact with the people they paid to come and see and get a chance to see what these people are like in real life. Going into a band’s backstage feels sort of intrusive, but a band coming into a VIP area is a much different vibe it’s just a bunch of people hanging out. The barriers are broken down and everyone just becomes regular people.
At the Echo Project this year the VIP area was a little offset from the staging area which usually doesn’t happen. Unfortunately the artists didn’t get to come in as often as they had liked. But one night as I was packing up and saying good night at 3AM in the morning I hear Brownstein screaming at the top of his lungs, “Time to party!” All of a sudden through the walls of the VIP tent rolls three kegs along with the Biscuits band and crew, the Umphrey’s guys, and even a DJ who brought some records to spin. It turned into an all night party for everyone in the VIP area and the bands and crews of the festivals. It went on until six in the morning and I finally packed up and went home. Well Vivian, who I mentioned earlier, who’s the yin to my yang, got there at 8 AM and was not too happy with us! But that was one of those nights where all of the barriers just broke down and it was just a bunch of people hanging out.
JH: Where do you see this going in the future? Do you see this expanding and doing large scale Rolling Stones type shows or do you want to continue where you’re comfortable at right now?
DB: I really don’t know. Right now I love where I am and what we’re all doing. I’d love to branch out and eventually be doing packages for the US Open and the Masters. I’d love to do Arcade Fire at Red Rocks or Muse at the Greek Theater. Anything that has people who are emotionally connected to bands, that’s who I want to work with. The primary thing we focus on is never diluting our product Consideritdan will never bite off more than it can chew. All that’s important is that everything we do runs extremely well. As long as Consideritdan does that, we can continue to expand.