Three days. That’s all it took to make the 2011 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show the talk of the town and the industry. This year, the show welcomed 631 exhibiting companies occupying upward of 100,00 square feet that was walked by more than 31,000 attendees. Electrifying the Las Vegas Convention Center with new talent, products and services, as well as the high-voltage energy of this industry, the 26th annual Nightclub & Bar Show allowed all attendees to enjoy the unabashed excitement of Sin City.
New products and venerable brands — spirits, beer, wines, mixers, energy drinks, POS and inventory-control systems, games, bar equipment, sound and lighting, and entertainment options — as well as innovations took over the show floor, while educational seminars and workshops by some of the biggest names in the industry — Charlotte Voisey, Jon Taffer, Patrick Henry, Jack Robertiello and Robert Plotkin, just to name a few — took place throughout the day.
It wasn’t all work, of course, because attendees at the show certainly know how to party. Each night brought parties at some of the hottest clubs in Vegas, including Haze at Aria Resort & Casino, Pure at Caesars Palace and Marquee at The Cosmopolitan, giving attendees a unique chance to network and celebrate while checking out the best of the Vegas nightlife scene. Nothing was off limits for the premier nightclub and bar event, proving a show like this can’t be matched in terms of excitement and business-building opportunities.
During the day, attendees were busy going to educational and information sessions on some of the hottest topics in the industry.
• Jon Taffer kicked off the show with a rousing opening keynote. “I want to change the way you think,” Taffer told the crowd. By just being at the show, he said, attendees were choosing to make more money and perform better than their competitors who weren’t there. You’re always “one idea from your next success,” he reminded the crowd — a defining line for show attendees.
• Dr. Peter Cressy, president of DISCUS, shared with the crowd the good news that the industry outlook for 2011 is showing positive growth, especially for spirits categories, including vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum and locally produced boutique brands.
• In an energetic keynote, CEO and President of Patrick Henry Creative Promotions Patrick Henry discussed the evolution of profitable
promotions in the last 20 years, divulging that the key to a successful promotion is to give people an incentive to stay at your bar or club longer than the promotion itself. One fun promo that never gets old: Celebrating your anniversary more than once a year. “People won’t know the difference,” Henry quipped.
• “Think bigger, be bigger,” Tom Leykis, radio host of the “The Tasting Room” told the crowd during his keynote speech on the last day of the show. To be the best, he said, you have to provide entertainment and, above all, be a good showman.
• New information on how to create a stronger social-media presence was the take-away for attendees at Maria Miranda’s “Facebook With A Twist” workshop, where they learned how to expand their Facebook fan page effectiveness.
• The Top 100 Panel, featuring some of the nation’s most successful operators — Mark Easterling, director of marketing for Midnight Rodeo in San Antonio, Texas; Howard Weiss, director of pool and nightlife operations at The Pool After Dark in Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.; and Jesse Waits, managing partner of XS and Tryst nightclubs at the Wynn Las Vegas — shared with attendees how to generate revenue in a tough economy.
• Robert Casillas, president of the Monsoon Group, and Kalika Moquin, marketing director for the Light Group, offered the crowd at “Promo Powerhouse: High Impact Promotions to Implement Now” insights on fun, yet easy, promotions that will get people into your club every week.
• At the “Preventing Prohibition” seminar, Sarah Longwell from American Beverage Institute (ABI) discussed the potential impact of mandating ignition interlocks for first time, low-BAC drunk-driving offenders, noting that this is a slippery slope to an eventual zero-tolerance alcohol policy. Universal interlock, she said, promises to be bad news for your business. Learn more at interlockfacts.com.
• What’s the future of bartending? Charlotte Voisey from William Grant & Sons USA noted it involves low-calorie cocktails made with homemade sweeteners and fresh juices. People can enjoy themselves at your bar without the guilt trip, she explained.
• Dirk Smith, president of Sports Destination Network, discussed how a 162-game baseball season is a coup for your business, especially on slow nights. His “Promoting a Home Run Season with Baseball” session was a highlight of the Hospitality Sports Marketing Conference, a special event within the Nightclub & Bar Show.
• On the show floor, the energy was high, the crowds were large and the conversations were intense and exhilarating. Booths lined the exhibit floor, where samples of spirits, wine, beer and other beverages were handed out, gaming systems were on display and new technologies were tested. Scanning the crowd, you couldn’t miss seeing celebrities such as Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of “Jersey Shore” representing Devotion Vodka and opening the show alongside Nightclub & Bar’s Jon Taffer at the ribbon cutting and holding court at the Devotion booth later in the day.
• At the opposite end of the floor, bartenders from all over the United States competed at the 2011 Shake It Up! Competition, presented by Southern Wine & Spirits and Nightclub & Bar, for part of a $25,000 purse, but the winning check of $15,000 went to Mathias Simonis from Distil in Milwaukee for his Last Second Sour cocktail. That’s not all: On the red carpet, Nightclub & Bar Publisher & Editorial Director Donna Hood Crecca handed out the 2010 NCB Awards to the deserving winners, including Jackson Cannon from Eastern Standard, Jesse Waits from Tryst, Martin Cate from Smuggler’s Cove and more.
• Of course, during the day, the show floor was busy with attendees searching for a new product or idea to spark their sales, but the nighttime was when things really started heating up. During the opening evening, attendees and exhibitors were invited to the Welcome Kick-off Party at Caesars Palace, where people from all segments of the industry mingled over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres; MillerCoors, Imperial Brands’ 4 Orange Premium Vodka, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Wine Wave (represented by OneBar USA), RoxiSpice, Rums of Puerto Rico, Red Bull and Josef Meiers sponsored the event. And the nightlife was only beginning. From there, guests checked out the Show & Glow Party at Haze at Aria Resort & Casino, sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon, Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” USGlow Laboratories and Rums of Puerto Rico and hosted by Devotion Vodka and “The Situation.” Lucky guests who stayed late enough were enthralled by a performance by Three 6 Mafia. The next evening, show attendees were treated to a concert by 51 Fifty and Camp Freddy with musicians Dave Navarro, Matt Sorum, Billy Morrison, Chris Chaney and Donovan Leitch all jamming out during the Monster Hour right as the show floor closed at the Convention Center. Later that night, ABSOLUT, MillerCoors, Red Stag by Jim Beam, Cruzan Rum and Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. sponsored the Triple Theme Party at Pure at Caesars Palace. Ashley Ray showed off her singing chops during a live performance, while partygoers danced the night away on the crowded dance floor or took in the Las Vegas view from the rooftop patio. On the final night, attendees celebrated at the Top 100 and DJ Spin Off Party — sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Rums of Puerto Rico and MillerCoors — at Marquee at The Cosmopolitan. Six talented DJs, including Avicii, Jason Lema, Mike Remedy, Tina T, Lisa Pittman and Dig Dug, took turns entrancing the crowd until the early morning.
The Nightclub & Bar Show never ceases to amaze, but this year it was full of energy, vigor and an overwhelming sense of unadulterated excitement about the year ahead. The show floor was busier than ever, the workshops were more informative and the parties were more energetic. It certainly will be hard to top in 2012, but that won’t stop us from trying! NCB