My take on the rising prices of mas is that there has always been choice; choice to either pay what the popular bands are asking or to look for an alternative band to play with. Harts has basically offered the drinks or cart option for years, an ideology that their masqueraders have fully supported. Either you pay for drinks or buy them at your own discretion In addition to Harts there are numerous small bands like the Indian Band that adopted hubby on Carnival Tuesday, their concept being make your own costume and pay a fee for only food and drink all inclusive package. This year masqueraders also saw new bands We International, D Krewe and Evolution debut with relatively “cheap” costumes notwithstanding any birthing pains their masqueraders had to endure.
I am quite anxious for band launching season to begin, if only to see the costs of these new, non inclusive bands’ costumes and the effect that will have on pricing for the “luxury inclusive bands”. Something tells me that with more of these cheaper options available the exclusivity of the”luxury all inclusive” will be further exacerbated by price! One cannot now say that the costumes of ONE band are too expensive when no one is holding you hostage to play with them and there are several other options available for more affordable costumes, now can they? What makes the situation even more interesting is that where once the cheaper costumes came out of mas camps that may not necessarily drum up a hype of being the new, “hot” band to play with, based on the “whos who” of who is backing bands like Element they are poised to market themselves as an “IT” band and have people seriously considering jumping ship.
Offering the non all-inclusive option for mas bands will surely affect the pricing of costumes, and with every type of product and service rising in price in Trinidad, as well as globally, this may be a brilliant marketing scheme by band leaders to give consumers what they have been asking for; cheaper prices while placating the ones who are drawn to the idea that they will pay more for an ultimate experience! It remains to be seen, however, if price alone is what entices masqueraders to play with one band over the other in the ever more competitive business of mas which is driven more by hype, in my estimation, than rationale.