Casinos to focus on clubs for middle class

Nov 23, 2008 7:46 PM
by Mark Mayer | The sagging economy may have one benefit for the lounge crowd – a concentration on building clubs for the middle income market.

"The economy definitely affects the bottom line," Scott Frost, president of Titan Nightlife Group and vegashotspots.com said during a seminar last week at the Global Gaming Expo.

"The high-end nightclub market has been saturated," Frost added. "There has to be clubs built catering to bar-driven business and not bottle-driven. Places need to be opened seven days a week instead of just a couple."

Greg Jarmolowich, managing director of the Opium Group which handles the nightclub at the Bellagio, said that Las Vegas will bounce back economically.

"Las Vegas is a self-insulated community," Jarmolowich said. "The country reacts according to what happens here. Locals are the mouthpiece for success in the nightclub business. It is valets, customer service and any way to get people in the door. Everyone is a big star, a VIP."

Sean Christie, operating partner for Blush Boutique Nightclub and associated with Wynn Las Vegas and Panorama Towers, said that the industry needs to create events that excite people.

"Local clubs like PT’s draw people with industry night deals," Christie said. "Strip nightclubs can do more in the way of selling drink tickets and having no cover nights. On slower nights, they can allow customers to have prime seating."

Jarmolowich said that casino resorts cannot survive without a nightclub and used Planet Hollywood as an example.

"Everything had to be redesigned there because it was so hard to park and get people into the venue," he said. "We drew 2,000 to see Justin Timberlake and it created an energy that got bodies into the casino. Nightclub and casino management are always bickering, but it’s necessary to co-exist to make everything work."

Philippe Mondor, architectural project manager for Realisations.net which has designed lounges at Luxor, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand, said that construction budgets for ultra lounges are getting lower.

"We need to diversify," Mondor said. "Smaller places and a more private secluded ambiance make clients feel special. Decor and design is very important."

Christie said the future on marketing nightclubs to casinos will come from the Internet.

"Digital media and Facebooks are the wave of the future," Christie said. "The way to gather data and reach people is the biggest change we will see in marketing clubs. The Internet is the technology as our marketing tool."

But getting customers into nightclubs during tough economic times is not really hard.

"It’s not rocket science," Frost said. "You gain customers by treating them well and giving them a good experience. In the nightclub business that doesn’t happen a lot. We need to do a better job of that."