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June 14, 2018: Fyre Festival Organizer Faces New Fraud Charges for Selling Fake Event Tickets, Why Nashville Welcomes Bachelorette Parties, Luxury Hotels Are Enduring Wannabe Instagram Influencer Requests

By Ian Zelaya June 14, 2018, 8:33 AM EDT


1. FYRE FESTIVAL ORGANIZER FACES NEW FRAUD CHARGES FOR SELLING FAKE EVENT TICKETS: The organizer of last year’s disastrous Fyre Festival sold fake tickets to numerous events while he was out on bail, according to New York federal prosecutors. CNN: “William McFarland, 26, has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering in connection with the fake ticket scheme, which defrauded at least 15 customers out of about $100,000, according to a criminal complaint. McFarland had already pleaded guilty in March to two counts of wire fraud for defrauding Fyre Festival investors and ticket vendors of about $26 million, prosecutors said. He is still awaiting sentencing for those charges, and he had been free on pretrial release since July 2017. The new charges add further insight into the brains behind the Fyre Festival, the purportedly luxury concert in the Bahamas that has become shorthand for scams in the age of social media. … The two charges announced Tuesday allege that McFarland committed wire fraud by selling fake tickets and that he committed money laundering by trying to illegally conceal his involvement with the company. The company NYC VIP Access claimed to buy and sell tickets to exclusive events, including the Met Gala, Burning Man, Coachella, the Grammy Awards, Super Bowl LII and a team dinner with NBA star LeBron James. But when customers purchased the tickets, McFarland either did not provide tickets at all or did not provide tickets as advertised, according to prosecutors. In one instance, the company sold two tickets to the 2018 Grammy Awards for $700 each. The victims flew from Florida to New York to attend but were rejected at the door, according to the criminal complaint.” https://cnn.it/2JGHVCB

2. WHY NASHVILLE WELCOMES BACHELORETTE PARTIES: Nashville has become a go-to destination for pre-wedding bashes—which has led to an increase in restaurants, event venues, and bachelorette planning companies in the city. The New York Times: “Nashville hosted 14.5 million visitors last year, and that number continues to rise exponentially, according to Butch Spyridon, the president and chief executive of the Tennessee capital’s Convention & Visitors Corporation. The airport is now one of the fastest growing airports in North America, bringing in bachelorettes from nearby states and even revelers from international locations. The number of new restaurant openings doubled since 2015, and nearly 15,000 hotel rooms are in the development pipeline. But with all the changes, business owners and residents say, the city continues to feel local, laid-back, and accessible for tourists to dine on Southern fare, peruse shops and art galleries, and experience the epicenter of country music. … Jeff Eslick, the media manager for Tootsie’s Entertainment, noted that many honky tonks and restaurants have V.I.P. areas that can accommodate large groups, and he fields questions weekly from inquiring bridesmaids organizing trips. Lisa Curry, the event sales manager of the 21c Museum Hotel Nashville, which opened last year, said that restaurants also crafts menus to delight female patrons. The hotel’s Gray and Dudley, for instance, offers cocktails served in vintage beverage decanters or pitchers. Thompson Hotels also opened a property in town, with a trendy rooftop that features views of Nashville’s chic Gulch neighborhood. The hip Pinewood Social functions as a craft cocktail bar, co-working space, and bowling alley that can accommodate groups for anything from casual afternoon coffee to all-night festivities. Bach Weekend, a planning company which has spawned from the rise in pre-wedding celebrations, organizes entire itineraries, including brewery tours, open bars, and pole dancing classes with matching swag. The company estimates a partygoer spends about $850 for the weekend (without travel costs) to a destination bachelorette party.” https://nyti.ms/2l5L7gx

3. LUXURY HOTELS ARE ENDURING WANNABE INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER REQUESTS: Oftentimes, luxury hotels let popular Instagram influencers with thousands of followers stay in their property for free, in exchange for social media exposure. While influencers are usually invited by hotel brands, there's a new wave of wannabe influencers sending hotels requests to give them all-expense-paid stays in exchange for social media posts. The Atlantic: “Kate Jones, marketing and communications manager at the Dusit Thani, a five-star resort in the Maldives, said that her hotel receives at least six requests from self-described influencers per day, typically through Instagram direct message. 'Everyone with a Facebook these days is an influencer,' she said. 'People say, I want to come to the Maldives for 10 days and will do two posts on Instagram to like 2,000 followers. It's people with 600 Facebook friends saying, ‘Hi, I'm an influencer, I want to stay in your hotel for 7 days,’' she said. Others send vague one-line emails, like 'I want to collaborate with you,' with no further explanation. 'These people are expecting five to seven nights on average, all inclusive. Maldives is not a cheap destination.' She said that only about 10 percent of the requests she receives are worth investigating. ... Some hotels report being so overwhelmed by influencer requests that they've simply opted out. In January, a luxury boutique hotel in Ireland made headlines for banning all YouTubers and Instagram stars after a 22-year-old requested a free five-night stay in exchange for exposure. But to influencers themselves, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the value exchange. Instagram has ballooned to more than 800 million monthly active users, many of whom come to it for travel ideas, and influencers argue that the promotions they offer allow hotels to directly market to new audiences in an authentic way. They're not completely wrong. Most hotels acknowledge that there's some benefit to working with influencers, it's just that determining how to work with them—and manage their requests—is a challenge." https://theatln.tc/2JTxwXW

* LOCAL NEWS *

AUSTIN:  Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic, with live music, fireworks, and more, will take place at Circuit of the Americas. The presenting sponsor is Budweiser.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA:  This year’s Secret Stages music festival will take place August 3-4 at venues throughout the city. 

CHICAGO:  This year’s Strawberry Fest will take place June 22-24 in historic downtown Long Grove. 

LAS VEGAS:  The Conference Center of Las Vegas has announced a new hiring initiative to expand its sales team. The search will be led by Catherine Price, who was promoted to general manager. 

LOS ANGELES:  Rita Moore has been named director of conference management at ConferenceDirect, a West Hollywood-based global meetings solution company. Moore was previously interim director of meetings and events at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter Hotel.

The second annual Animation Is Film festival will take place October 19-21 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. The event is presented by GKids and France’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/losangeles

NEW YORK:  The Lincoln Center Young Patrons Summer Swing Party will take place June 28 at the Deck at Damrosch Park. 

Stony Hill Stables Foundation will host its annual benefit in Amagansett on June 30, during which scholarships will be awarded. The foundation is a not-for-profit that promotes equine sports through riding education and competitions for children and young adults.

SkyLawn rooftop at Embassy Suites has partnered with Rooftop Cinema Club to host its first rooftop cinema series, with screenings now through late September. 

NEW YORK:  Cachet Boutique NYC hotel has appointed Ash Bhasin general manager. Bhasin has held executive roles at Four Seasons Hotel New York, SoHo Grand Hotel, and Tribeca Grand Hotel. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/newyork

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  Universal Orlando announced plans to complete Universal’s Endless Summer Resort—Surfside Inn and Suites by August 2019. The new hotel will add 750 rooms to the city’s convention district. Universal also has plans to open sister property Dockside Inn and Suites in 2020, which will add another 2,050 rooms and suites.

TORONTO:  This year’s Wild Blueberry Festival will take place August 19 at Evergreen Brick Works. The event will feature products and dishes from more than 20 food producers, chefs, preservers, and bakers. 

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Ian Zelaya, and Kristine Liao in New York.

BizBash Daily is the must-read digest of event industry news from BizBash.com.

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