Locals & Tourists Feel the Love at LIVJune 10, 2010 By: Sean Evans
When your nightclub, LIV, is the second hottest club in the world — according to a recent survey from AskMen.com — but it’s in a heavily tourist-trafficked location such as South Beach, how do you keep the locals engaged without alienating the scores of out-of-towners flocking to your venue nightly?
“Locals are a huge concern for us,” Dave Grutman, operating partner of LIV, says. “After all, whenever tourists want to know where to go, who do they ask? The locals. Word of mouth for us starts with a native’s endorsement.”
To win over the Miami natives, Grutman and his crew employ special programming and production to ensure they keep the Miami-ites streaming through the doors of their multi-level venue tucked inside the Fontainebleau Hotel. “For instance, certain DJs and events and themes appeal to locals and at the same time drive that national crowd. You do the big PR stuff with celebrities so that when a model in LA is on the beach reading Us Weekly, she’ll see our name and remember to go there when she’s in South Beach,” Grutman explains. “But the locals will like the night and that particular event just as much.”
As with any core club base, revelers are ADD-addled and as attention spans wane, it’s crucial to employ every weapon in the arsenal to combat the stale feeling clubs get the minute a partier has been there more than once. “It’s got to be a constant change,” Grutman says. “We’re revamping our DJ booth so that it’s fresh, we’re redoing the wallpaper, and every chance we can, we’ll bring in little things, like inflatable pieces, new lighting systems and even change up the costumes on our dancers.”
The South Beach regulars seem to respond best to local DJs. “Rony Seikaly, who used to be a professional basketball player with the Miami Heat, is a huge draw for us. He plays house music and all the locals really come out just for him,” Grutman said. (Incidentally, Seikaly is even more renowned for his spinning skills — and we don’t mean with a basketball — in Europe.) Another Miami native DJ, Cedric Gervais, can pack the club with women, but LIV ends up not ringing in the same numbers for the night because the ladies don’t spend like the fellas. “The place is literally wall to wall with women there to see Cedric. Which is great; who doesn’t like a room full of beautiful women? But at the end of the night we’re down 20 percent because the room is too female-heavy,” laughs Grutman.
While in the summer, South Beach regulars comprise anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of LIV’s demographic, during peak tourist season, that number drops to about 50/50. Which leads one to wonder if the locals are still as heavily favored when they’re not the dominating force on the dancefloor. They are, according to Grutman. “Say we have Erick Morillo rocking the turntables during the winter. We’ll waive the usual table fee for locals and make sure they still have prime table locations. We’ll tell them to spend whatever they’d like and it always ends up being at least our minimum. A lot of the times, it’s even more.”