Bottle Service: Converting Guests into VIPs
You don’t have to operate a Las Vegas mega-club to understand the value of VIP service. Delivering a superb experience to guests who are looking for special treatment is invaluable to your brand and bottom line. The question that should be on every operator’s mind is simple: How do I convert a $30 guest into a $500 guest? And how do I eventually turn that $500 guest into a $5,000 guest?
Scott McInerney, Senior VIP Host for Hyde Bellagio in Las Vegas, has a simple yet effective approach to customer conversion: “The approach that I take that works best is I simply introduce myself and I make a connection. I try to make a connection with someone right out of the gate.” Scott offered this simple yet effective bit of advice during the 30th Anniversary Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in 2015.
That all-important connection goes hand in hand with another important tool: honesty. Educate your guests when it comes to how VIP/bottle service works inside your venue. Be honest while selling bottle service in terms of perks, pricing and experience. Keep in mind that, particularly in cities such as Las Vegas, Chicago and Miami, a good number of people may not have ever tried VIP service or may have preconceived notions. Lay out what they should expect from your venue – and then deliver.
There are several effective tools at your disposal for delivering an exceptional VIP experience. Not only will these tools continually convert your guests, they’ll keep them loyal to your venue and likely score you referrals. As previously discussed, running an honest VIP program and venue should be a top priority; make no mistake, honesty is a tool. The smartphone is another powerful tool in your arsenal. Natalia Badzio, Senior VIP Services Manager for Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, recommends using the Company or Organization entry for important notes when adding a VIP’s name and phone number, such as their wife’s or husband’s name, type of dog they own or just their drink preference. Once you’ve captured their important details, send your Very Important Person texts on holidays and their birthday without the intention of selling anything. Include a signature with your name and the name of your venue and leave it at that.
Every operator must also learn to use this tool effectively: the local. Yes, you can spend 5 figures or more on an advertisement or billboard but you can also simply comp a bottle to an influential local and let them do your advertising for you. You can also utilize your line and general admission guests to convert. VIPs tend to like to have someone to show off for so a line and roped off but visible VIP section can have a two-pronged effect. First, your VIPs will be happy that they've gotten to skip the line and are getting special treatment in front of everyone else. And second, a portion of your general admission guests will see the type of service and attention the VIPs are getting and choose to convert.
Finally, realize that pricing is a tool with which you must experiment and that you must ultimately master. Once your VIP clientele trusts you and values your brand and VIP experience, you decide what bottle service is worth. Don't be afraid to go from charging $500 for bottle service one evening but then raise the price to $1,000 or more - you may be pleasantly surprised by the results. Create a worthwhile experience and people will pay for it.
In parting, consider this important lesson from Natalia Badzio regarding treating all VIP clientele the same and maintaining those relationships: “You never know. Five years from now, that $500 customer could be your next $10,000 customer.”