NCC sits down with XS and Tryst’s John Wood
Nightclubs are being defined by Las Vegas where vying for the best, the biggest, the freshest, is the main focus. Vegas, behind its brilliant marketing slogan “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” has become America’s playground. But what happens in Vegas no longer necessarily stays in Vegas as marketing strategies and service concepts are often exported to NY, LA and the world.
XS and Tryst nightclubs are two of Las Vegas’ brightest stars. The bottom line numbers are staggering as well as the impact each has had on the Las Vegas club culture. This holiday season the clubs are giving back to the community with a toy drive designed to help those who are not in a position to enjoy the Vegas good times.
Nightclub Confidential caught up with John Wood, senior executive director of VIP services at XS and Tryst nightclubs and asked him about this charity and the state of the nightlife industry in Vegas.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): The Toy drive is a wonderful charity event. Tell us how it started and what this year’s goals are.
John Wood: It started seven years ago with a very small group of us just wanting to do something nice to help the less fortunate children of southern Nevada. Since then it has grown to take on a life of its own and has become the most anticipated event of the year for our staff. This year we will officially break $500,000 in total combined donations over the seven year span.
NCC: Your staff is very much involved in this event. Tell us about that their contributions.
Wood: All the money raised is 100% staff donation, not one dollar comes from the business. Each year on a designated day our staff goes to a local Wal-Mart and literally clear out aisles of toys. We load up three semi-trailers of toys. Then with the help of Las Vegas Metro and the Las Vegas Fire Department, we caravan to drop the toys off at the KLUC Morning Zoo's toy drive. Our motorcade consists of approximately 100 cars, a dozen motorcycles, three metro officers all led by a fire engine.
NCC: The economy has seemingly turned a corner. When did it bottom out for Vegas and how would you quantify the current state of your business?
Wood: It’s been very difficult in Vegas the past couple years. Locally the housing market was one of the hardest hit in the nation. Tourism is still seeing the bodies but with substantially less disposable income to play in the casinos. We have seen a nice turn around in convention business, which all but disappeared a few years ago during the economic meltdown.
The nightlife industry has done a great job maintaining and growing its business during the difficult times. We have seen a shift from guests who would have typically came to town to just gamble, who are now here specifically to be a part of the thriving Las Vegas nightlife scene. Nightclubs have seen a decade long explosion of business, and there are no signs of that business slowing down.
NCC: New is very important in the hospitality business especially Vegas. How do you keep your venues fresh?
Wood: Guest Experience, it’s on the top of the list in the Wynn culture, and that philosophy extends to every part of the business, including nightlife. We are constantly evolving our approach to service to make sure that everyone who visits our outlets has a better experience than they would anywhere else. This ideology has proved highly successful over the years.
NCC: Bottle service is a huge part of most establishments’ bottom lines. How is bottle service or table service evolving? What does the informed patron expect?
Wood: Bottle service has seen such a fast evolution over the past 10 years, where 10 years ago only a handful of clubs were selling bottles at their establishments and bottles would cost you $100. Now, there is truly no better way to experience a Las Vegas nightclub than bottle service. Depending on the time of year and entertainment on a particular night the best tables in the house could range from $20,000 down with your entry level bottle costing you $500. A standard minimum is one bottle for every three guests, with bottles starting at approximately $500 plus tax and tip. That’s for a very basic table; minimum’s jump substantially with a better table location.
NCC: Is Vegas becoming more and more like NY or is NY becoming more like Vegas?
Wood: Right now, Las Vegas is setting the trend in nightlife across the country. We have seen an explosion in big named DJ’s over the past year, which is a direct result of their popularity created here in Vegas. New York will always have their unique brand of nightlife, but given the current market they are very mindful of the successes taking place here and are adapting those to fit their philosophies.