Sunday, 29 May 2016

Tulsa vs BTTI: a clash of Titans

This is a blog post I’ve been dying to write for a long time.


Over and over, the question ‘should I go to BTTI or Tulsa?’ crops up on the forums and on social media. I have never been able to give an informed answer to that - having only experienced BTTI, now that I have been to Tulsa and witnessed first-hand the events and soaked in the atmosphere, I am finally qualified to answer. So let me give you, in no particular order, my comparison table of Hanson’s biggest yearly events.


The new mural at the back of 3CG



COST (NB: this is from a European fan’s perspective)



BTTI
The cheapest room at BTTI costs $1,625 - (£1,111/€1,461 at today’s ROE). That’s for the 4 days, without taking into account any extra days which you might want to allow yourself to settle in or to do some sightseeing, or if you can only get flights on certain days of the week.


Flights range from £600+ and quite frankly you’re more likely to spend in the region of £7-800 or more (that’s €1,000 +). Once you’re there, however, everything is included other than tips (which are discretionary), spa treatments and excursions. No transport costs, no merch (there’s none available for sale) and limited shopping opportunities unless you’re determined to raid the resort’s gift shop.


In exchange for that cartload of money, however, you get a lot: 3 full Hanson shows, 3 solo shows which so far have only ever happened at BTTI, 2 guest shows (if you’re a fan of the act, you’re in luck), an individual, professionally shot photo with the band, and the opportunity to spend some time with Hanson during the activities. No, you won’t really hang out with the band (and those who say they did are lying - remember, a photo can tell a thousand stories) but the chances are that if you really try, you’ll get to say hello to your favourite brother at least once.

A major selling point of BTTI is the individual photo with the band: Hanson don't offer that at any other event, with even HNET M&Gs taking place in small groups of 5-10 fans. Here you will have plenty of time to dress up, do your hair and make up, grab a Margarita to steady your nerves and get a spot next to your favourite brother, before a professional photographer captures a moment that will keep you going for the rest of the year.


Finally, it’s worth noting that Island Gigs offer a payment plan for BTTI, allowing you to spread the cost of the holiday across 7 months. That makes it a lot easier to pay for it if you don’t have the money upfront and don’t want to incur high credit card interest fees.


TULSA
If you’re a European fan, the general wisdom that Tulsa is a cheaper event compared to BTTI doesn’t really apply. The problem is that you need to get there, and flights to Tulsa cost practically the same as flights to Jamaica (I spent over £800 - roughly $1,200 on both occasions). Hotels in the US are cheaper than in Europe and if you travel The Fanson Way and split a room with 3 other people, accommodation will cost very little. Food and drinks quickly add up but there’s so little time to eat that you’ll probably only eat breakfast and one meal a day. The biggest expenditure will be merch - I wasn’t going to spend any money at the store (‘maybe I’ll buy a t-shirt’) but of course I did, tempted by the favourable rate of exchange and not having to pay shipping and customs fees.


What you get in return for your money is the free concert and State of the Band - half of which is now devoted to the MOEYs. You also get a group picture with the band. Lectures, karaoke and fan club dinners have to be purchased for a small fee, and bowling is the most expensive event as it also includes a t-shirt. There are plenty of opportunities for ‘grab-a-Hanson’ moments, especially during the Hop Jam (but you’ll need to buy a ticket to get into the beer festival) but be aware that Hanson have been known to say no to pictures and autographs.


AND THE WINNER IS…BTTI. Despite the initial heart-attack inducing outlay of money, from a purely financial point of view and once everything is taken into account - the number of concerts and the unique opportunities (such as the individual photo) that it offers - BTTI is without a doubt better value for money for the European fan.


You get what you pay for



HANSON SIGHTINGS (also known as ‘grab-a-Hanson’ moments)




BTTI
If you haven’t been to BTTI, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that Hanson hangs out with fans, sharing cozy moments at the bar, piña colada in hand, discussing music and everything in between: you’ve seen the photos, right? Wrong: those pictures are instant snapshots of aptly snatched ‘grab-a-Hanson’ moments. Outside of the activities, the guys are usually nowhere to be seen. However, the activities do offer an opportunity for ‘interaction’ (for lack of a better word), depending on what’s on offer on any given year. It’s pot luck, but with only 4-500 fans there, the odds are usually in your favour.


TULSA
Over the years, I have seen tons of photos of fans with Hanson taken during the Hanson Day events. This year, as I was there in person, if we exclude the day of the Hop Jam, I only saw Zac at registration and Taylor at the gallery (I didn’t get to speak to them on either occasions, although Taylor was there, talking to the girls behind me). It’s a case of being in the right place at the right time and having the patience and determination to loiter around all the various ‘hot-spots’ until you spot them. The Hop Jam makes things slightly easier as everything takes place in that street, but as the day gets busier and the crowds get bigger, the guys have been reported to say no to photos and autographs. My overall impression is that the guys are more relaxed on their home turf than they are on a tropical island in the Caribbean. Go figure.


AND THE WINNER IS….I’m going to call it a draw. Whilst the boys are obviously more at ease when they play a home game, the sheer number of fans in Tulsa makes it harder to snatch that precious moment. Therefore, 1-1.
Grab-a-Hanson: BTTI 2016 (Photo by SophiaSmiles)

Grab-a-Hanson: Tulsa 2016 (Photo by Tom Gilbert, Tulsa World)


MUSIC



BTTI


As I said earlier, at BTTI you get 3 Hanson shows and 3 solo sets, as well as 2 guest acts. This year I ended up really enjoying Paul McDonald’s show - I would have paid for that. The Hanson concerts are often themed - you can have a cover show, an acoustic show, one year there was even a Christmas show. There are plenty of opportunities to hear rare and members-only songs, and if you’ve never seen Hanson live, you’ll still get to hear Mmmbop at least once.


European fans note: this is a chance to see Hanson play with the full backing band without having to travel to the US. It’s a totally different type of experience than the ‘trio’ performances we are used to in Europe. I hate to say this but the full band wins.


TULSA


As the event is (technically) free, Tulsa cannot compete with BTTI. There’s one concert only, and Hanson are no longer headlining at the Hop Jam. On the plus side, the atmosphere at the Tulsa show is without a doubt very special concert, especially as the new EP songs are performed for the first time or, like this year, new songs are being recorded live. However, it’s still only one single concert and you’ll come out of the venue wanting more.


AND THE WINNER IS...BTTI - especially if you’re an overseas fan who doesn’t get to see the band very often.



BTTI 2016: Photo by Hanson Italian Fanpage


ACTIVITIES



BTTI


Depending on what the resort offers, the activities at BTTI are not of the highbrow, intellectual kind. Expect to make bracelets, pottery, or tie-dye (and ruin) your BTTI shirt in the company of Hanson. Some activities have had more fan involvement than others, and as a general rule, Zac is usually good at mingling with fans during his sessions, while Taylor (at least this year) looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Isaac’s activity was a trivia and there was no mingling whatsoever. If you’re good with crafts then you’ll probably enjoy making things as well as getting close to the guys, but if, like me, you’re absolutely hopeless at anything that you make with your hands, then you might find the activities a bit lame.


TULSA


Since 2014, Tulsa’s Hanson Day has offered lectures with each brother. Topics have ranged from photography to songwriting, with Zac writing a Digital Pants-style song on stage for the last 3 years. I think it’s fair to say that Isaac’s lecture this year (‘You Matter!!!’) - a kind of self-help, motivational talk in which Isaac channeled his inner Tony Robbins - blew everyone away in one way or another: some people, myself included, loved it, others walked out of the Brady Theatre saucer-eyed, with a ‘wtf’ expression on their faces.

AND THE WINNER IS…Tulsa. Give me a long, rambling lecture anytime instead of making an abomination of a bracelet that I’ll never wear, or have me paint a clay duck that even Zac Hanson is too embarrassed to look at.

Isaac's Lecture at Tulsa 2016



FUN WITH FRIENDS



BTTI


Some people attend BTTI with a friend while some other fans will find a ‘random’ roommate via personal recommendation or the FB BTTI Roommate Group. Sometimes your roommate might be from a different country and not speak much English (that’s what happened to a friend of mine). It’s easy to make new friends but you’ll need to be comfortable with talking to strangers and stepping out of your comfort zone, as a lot of people tend to stick to their own little groups. My advice would be to ‘connect’ with other fans prior to getting to BTTI (there are several BTTI-themed FB groups) so that you vaguely know people beforehand. And if you’re rooming with a complete stranger, try to take up some ‘references’ first (the fanson grapevine is better than LinkedIn).


As for having fun with your existing friends - it doesn’t get much better than lying by the poolside, discussing the previous night’s concert in total chill-mode, cocktail in hand, with no care in the world. Yes, it’s that good.


TULSA


I found Tulsa to better lend itself to making impromptu friendships - I don’t know if it’s because there’s more time spent queuing for things, or if the more chaotic nature of the event causes people to become separated from their group and therefore in need of company. There’s also the fact that a lot of people share rooms with 3 others (sometimes more!) so inevitably for one friend, you’ll meet potentially 3 new people. This could be either a great thing for an extrovert, or a shy person’s nightmare. You decide.

The Dance Party and Karaoke are great opportunities to socialise with your friends outside the strictly ‘Hansonised’ events, and the abundance of bars in the immediate vicinity of the Hanson Day venues mean that you’ll never be too far away from alcohol (if you’re teetotal, don’t worry: there’s always OJ).


AND THE WINNER IS....I’m calling it a draw. Whichever of the two you end up attending, you’ll likely meet a lot of new people, although you’ll also probably come back worn out by all that constant socialising and yearn for a week’s retreat in the quiet of a Benedectine monastery.


Finally met blogger Miranda (The Good Groupie) and Kelly ('nerd out')
Photo by Miranda


THE FINAL WORD



Although technically BTTI scored 2 wins vs Tulsa’s single win, I’m reluctant to call it a winner. Firstly, the cost implications are very different for European fans compared to those who live in North America. Secondly, the two events are so different in nature that they complement each other. In an ideal world, I’d wholly recommend trying both.


Whichever you choose, you’ll have no regrets. So stop looking at that new handbag, or that pair of designer shoes. You don’t need expensive things which will eventually break and become useless. As Sven Lapiner of Island Gigs said to me:


“They say life experiences are much more valuable than material things. You can't take material things with you but memories in your head will always remain there.”


Join the Hanson fanclub here.
Rooms are still available for BTTI 2016 - all information can be found here.

17 comments:

  1. Your hired ! Great unbiased review .Im suprised at the outcome I would have guest BTTI but then I realize every one experiences these events differently and even more so if you live in a different continent.

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    1. I think it really is a draw, in all honesty. I loved being able to visit a real place in Tulsa, not just a holiday resort. Financially speaking though, BTTI wins.

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  2. I like this so much. I knew Tulsa wasn't really a financial win for Aussies either, but I wonder about the other things.

    The thing for me is that I really love a live show. That's what I'm in this for. Every year I'm jealous about the MOE show because of the new music, but it's just one show. Just one. In effect, I'd be traveling to the other side of the world to see one concert (and hang out with my friends, but that's a different story).

    I think I'll still pass on Tulsa next year (even though I'm probably fairly easily convinced). Bad fan. ��

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    1. As I said, it's really hard to say one is better than the other, but I do think that there's a big difference for overseas fans. If you never get to see the band, BTTI offers more. But I think everyone should experience Tulsa at least once.

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  3. I think your right, it depends on what part of the world your from and what your expecting to experience at either event. This is the first year Hanson didn't play at Hop Jam so we would normally have at least 2 concerts at Moe. But your right about getting more shows at BTTI. I would love to be able to experience that many concert but the cost is much more for me. Even a live stream fromm BTTI would be nice since they do it for two events from Tulsa. I'm just happy Hanson does these events for us.

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  4. I think your right, it depends on what part of the world your from and what your expecting to experience at either event. This is the first year Hanson didn't play at Hop Jam so we would normally have at least 2 concerts at Moe. But your right about getting more shows at BTTI. I would love to be able to experience that many concert but the cost is much more for me. Even a live stream fromm BTTI would be nice since they do it for two events from Tulsa. I'm just happy Hanson does these events for us.

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    1. Shari - I totally see your point of view and as I said in the post, the situation is very different for international fans. It costs the same to get there for us than it costs to go to Jamaica!

      It would be nice if they streamed from BTTI - I think the only problem is that the internet at these resorts is always unreliable.

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  5. I haven't been to BTTI yet, but I do think the two events are meant to be different/not necessarily in "competition" with each other--this fan base is just of the nature that a lot of people will do anything Hanson puts on, and so comparisons are inevitable because so many people do go to both. I am super excited for Jamaica because I feel like Hanson's music is starting to take a bit of a backseat to the other "add-ons" at MOE, so a trip that promises daily concerts is super appealing! If it weren't for all the hype (already) about 2017 25/7 etc. I would definitely be sitting out HDay next year...but we'll just have to see about that.

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    1. Exactly - I don't think the two events are in competition with each other (and in theory, HDay is free). But of course the Fanson Frenzy means that people (myself included now) will try to do both.
      I can't wait to find out your impressions of BTTI once we're there!

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  6. thanks for mentioning my btti roommate group! such a real review, I couldn't imagine missing either one!

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    1. You're very welcome! It's one of the most useful groups on FB!

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  7. Amazing review, Paola. For a long time I had this fight inside me: "go to Hanson Day or BTTI". The reason I chose BTTI was the idea of having a concert everyday (it is really appealing to me) and also the individual photo with the band. Financially speaking, as I live in Brazil, both events are very expensive. I loved the BTTI experience, not only for the great music, but also because I met incredible people there (you included). I plan to go to Tulsa someday, but I'm looking foward going back to BTTI first.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Tatiana!
      I think for overseas fans the cost vs 'value' is a real issue. Especially as we don't get to see the band very often so when we do, we want to see them a lot!

      Tulsa is really something different though and very very special. There's a special vibe that I can't quite define (maybe I'll need a separate blog post for that). I hope you'll get to go one day - it will be worth it.

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  8. This was very interesting, as American fan, Tulsa is way cheaper! I think this year I spent a total of 800 dollars,maybe a little more. This included flight, room (shared), and everything I bought.
    For the last three years I have been lucky with getting airline credit and one year my flight was free so I only spent 500 in total!
    Now you know why I've been able to go to Hanson Day for the last 6 years. I do hope to go to BTTI one of these days!

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    1. It's a totally different story, isn't it? $800 is like £500 pounds here - we wouldn't even get a flight for that price.
      BTTI is definitely an experience to try at least one though!
      Thanks for reading :)

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  9. Great review, Paola! I'll be able to compare both pretty soon. I was lucky to see and talk to my adorable drummer 3/4 days of Hday. :D It's a bummer knowing that we don't hang with the guys in Jamaica like we do in Tulsa. But it's okay, we still have a lot of shows and drink and our fanson reunion which will make this trip perfect. Can't wait to hang with you in BTTI.

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  10. as always Paola you have written this so well and given a fair out look on things me myself have never been BTTI , but next year will be my third in Tulsa i love tulsa it pulls you back once you have been , i have to say this year i had so much fun i did more things that hanson had set out there for us , and enjoyed it so very much the day i got there flying in from orlando were the heat had got to me so much meant after registration and the store i didnt make it to karaoke i rested up instead , but everything else was great i had so much fun at the party ( as you may remember ) i even lost my voice for a time i also agree that ike's talk touched me very much he had me in tears one min and laughing the next , the hop jam was okay but i didnt' spend much time out there just the end when i new hanson were doing the on core, but that morning started of well for me as you say you have to be in the right time at the right time and just be brave and say hi to them they wont do what they don't want to , i wasnt going to go next year but its the big one and ive been asked to go back by so many friends and also hanson asked us so i guess the saving starts hope you will be there it was fun jumping up and down at the party with you holding the uk flag which is on some ones video somewhere :)

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