In the music industry, tour itineraries are often referred to as the book of lies. That’s usually due to some eager (or lackadaisical) tour manager, who pads the itinerary pages with false information (rather than leaving blank portions) in an effort to route the itinerary to band and crew on time—meaning, before the tour starts. The itinerary is vital for a tour; it contains the blueprint for each day for everyone involved.
Creating a proper tour itinerary is quite an undertaking. Each show needs to be “advanced” in order to collect the required information for the day, and for that I communicate with one (or more) persons involved in every show. This often entails reaching out to the promoter, the venue’s technical staff, and the production staff to get all of my questions answered. Again, that’s for each show, so getting details for a 26-show tour requires lots of chasing down details, including but not limited to collecting stage and technical specifics (for example, stage & sound system, drum riser, backdrop, lighting), reissuing stage plot and input list, arranging for loaders in and out, securing load in zone and parking, arranging all show day times (load in, sound check, doors, dinner, set times, curfews), procuring hotel info, dinner specifics, and hospitality, among other details.
Travel details must also be included. I need to calculate distances for all drives—city to city and hotel to venue—with traffic times considered. It’s crucial for me to specify departure times so that everyone (band and crew) will arrive on time. Other bits need to be arranged and noted, such as interviews on days off, signing sessions at festivals, and other such commitments for the band.
For each tour itinerary, I aim to create a masterpiece. 😉 And it can be the size of a short novel. Thankfully, long ago we progressed to electronic itineraries (versus printed). Aside from providing explicit travel and show details for each day of the tour, I often add in must-see attractions in certain cities on days off. A band member’s family once thanked me for my thoroughness, saying it was good to know exactly where the band was at every hour of every day.
Sure, things change—that’s life. There are times when we’ll all agree to alter a lobby call time on the fly due to road works or inclement weather. Sometimes while on tour, show times get changed or hotels are switched (for example, a few years ago a hotel manager rang me that the hotel had flooded so they moved us to a five-star hotel), and that renders obsolete the information on those itinerary pages. But unless a promoter changes something last minute, what I’ve advanced for each show stands.
Touring is grueling, no question. And though creating an accurate itinerary is a massive time-taker, my goal is to do whatever I can to help make each day on tour roll along as smoothly as possible for band and crew. Inevitably, sometimes just minutes after I’ve routed a tour itinerary to the band and crew, something changes—a flight time, a hotel, a ferry cancellation, a load-in time. Thank goodness for technology…and PDF files.