High-Volume Venue TrendsFebruary 26, 2013 By: Donna Hood Crecca
The fifth annual revenue-based Nightclub & Bar Top 100 roster demonstrates some telling trends in the nightlife industry. The most significant is that the revenues generated by the nation’s top-performing bars, lounges and nightclubs continue to grow despite the economic challenges of recent years, a trend driven as much by excellence in operations, entertainment value and service as by the relevance of these concepts. The 2013 Top 100 venues generated approximately $1.5 billion in total revenue, an increase from the estimated $1.2 billion in combined revenue achieved by the 2009 Top 100 venues. Other trends worth noting:
Raising the roof on revenue. The high end of the list keeps getting higher. The largest-grossing venue on the 2009 list was TAO in Las Vegas, reporting $50-$60 million. The current list showcases Marquee Las Vegas and XS, also in Las Vegas, each reporting a record-breaking $80-$90 million in revenue. TAO achieved revenue in the $60-$70 million range. That increase in the top echelon of revenues also raised the revenue ranges for the lower-ranked venues. Number 100 in 2009, The Grizzly Rose in Denver, was in the $3-$5 million range, while the 100th ranked venue on the 2013 roster, The Estate in Boston, logged $5-$10 million in sales.
Las Vegas rules…but other cities also support high-volume nightlife venues. Twenty-one of the 2013 Top 100 venues are located in Las Vegas; seven are in the top 10. The 2009 list boasted 22 Las Vegas venues, with six in the top 10. Miami and New York remain important nightlife cities, as does Los Angeles, while Chicago, Washington DC and Atlantic City also host large-volume bars, lounges and clubs.
Multi-concept nightlife operators drive big revenues, as do hotel/resort-based operators. Leading multi-concept nightlife operators including Strategic/Tao Group, MMG, SBE, N9NE Group, Angel Management Group and Light Group, among others, each have multiple venues on the 2013 Top 100 roster, most of them at the higher revenue ranges. Some are established venues, while others are newer entries. Hotel- and resort-based venues are also well-represented. The presence of so many venues backed by larger organizations points to the importance of strong infrastructure in the venue’s ability to sustain such levels of revenue. These organizations can secure prime locations and develop cutting-edge designs, and also leverage their overall scale to maximize vendor relationships. In addition, these organizations have the resources to attract and retain talented management professionals, drive marketing, promotions and social media, and also secure bookings of top-tier entertainment.
Longevity and lifecycle trends. Many of the major clubs that appeared on the 2009 list have made repeat appearances over the years -- Tao, Pure, Tryst, The Bank, LAX, Pacha, MOON and ghostbar, to name a few -- and retain membership in this elite club for 2013, a commendable feat in a competitive industry that is subject to the whims of a fickle consumer base. What we do see, however, is declining revenues for some of the established clubs, indicating their relevance and appeal is being eclipsed by some of the newcomers, who typically feature cutting-edge design, entertainment and concept elements.
Independence triumphs also. Interestingly, several of the clubs that have remained on the list since 2009 include independent venues in smaller markets, such as Seacrets (Ocean City, Md.), Bar Anticipation (Lake Como, NJ) and Kilroy’s Sports Bar (Bloomington, Ind.), demonstrating that strong operations, a defined concept, solid promotions and quality service can lead to sustained success in any market.