Living in New York, I am struck by how many people travel here every summer to enjoy a “typical” city experience, which may include a night of music, dancing, and celebrating. If you own a club in the United States, you may not get many opportunities to travel abroad to enjoy international nightlife.
This brief overview captures some of the fascinating experiences that clubs on other continents offer. You can consider “importing” them to your own venue to draw new customers and give your current club-goers a truly unique evening.
Where in the World Are the Best Nightclubs?
What are some of the engaging ideas and trends you’ll find on the other side of the globe? Sirena in Brazil brings the outside in, creating a virtual rainforest. Ministry of Sound in London has built a global brand and even has its own record label. Ce La Vi (which translates to “This is Life”) is one of the top clubs in Singapore. They focus on the “end to end customer experience and create an illusion of exclusivity.” They celebrate loyal customers’ and resident DJ’s birthdays, turning those nights into special experiences for all club-goers (and attracting new prospects).
Turkey has a vibrant nightlife and multiple websites dedicated to the club scene. But Richard Laermer, CEO of RLM Public Relations, visited Istanbul and, seeking a different kind of club experience, went to the Asian side of Turkey. He was struck by the inclusiveness of the off-the-beaten-track club the taxi driver recommended. Families, gay couples, police officers, rowdy college students and fashionistas all danced together. “It was like a costume party,” says Laermer, “which added to its appeal.” Diversification can be a smart marketing strategy for some clubs.
Matthew Bonavita is an American DJ and President/Founder of Rhythm in Motion, Inc., a New York-based special event/DJ company. He just spent part of his summer vacation checking out clubs in Berlin, Rome, Prague, Budapest, Lisbon, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. He notes that the crowds are generally very well behaved, considering the drinking age is lower. He observed that “European clubs are usually housed in existing buildings that in some cases have been there for centuries. This means that the club is built according to the space that exists, which leads owners to get more creative with their use of space, lighting, etc. This makes the clubs feel more authentic.”
Global clubs are facing some challenges as well. Europe, once the epicenter of the club scene, is dealing with several factors that impact the club business: fluctuating tourism (due to travel concerns), legislative crackdowns, and increased competition from large festivals. The Economist recently covered these factors. As in the US, responding quickly and creatively to external forces has become more important than ever before.
Importing (and Exporting) Best Practices
Kirk Bouffard, managing director of 242 Consulting, has worked internationally with bars and clubs for more than six years (and has spent more than 15 in the business). He believes that US clubs are still the “gold standard” but observes that our overseas counterparts may have a leg up in terms of service stability, customer retention, and database building. Many U.S. nightclubs still have a long way to go in terms of capturing and using customer data.
Your club-goers are generally going to come from two sources: locals (who you can get to know by name and market to on a very targeted level via email and social media) and visitors/tourists who are coming for vacation, business, or to visit family and friends. If you’re appealing to out-of-towners, be sure that your club is well known on travel sites, social media platforms (like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube), and by hotel concierges. Consider investing in a professional publicist to help you get some buzz going. If you’re in an area that attracts trade shows and conventions, be sure to connect with organizers to ensure you’re capturing that surge in new visitors to your area. Consumers planning travel get most of their information online these days – be sure you’re there!
Bouffard also points out that “knowing your customer” is critical in all cultures. “International clubs struggle with creating the overall guest experience for a diverse customer base.” But he also predicts that as the US market (especially in Miami and Las Vegas) become saturated, well-capitalized American companies will seek to expand into new markets. “This can be a serious strain on the business. However, if the company can effectively expand, the potential is limitless.”
P.S. Be sure to teleport yourself to the Nightclub & Bar Show next year, where you’ll find many more ideas for business growth.