Atlantic City used to be your grandfather’s miniature, East Coast version of an old school Vegas. But while silver-haired octogenarians still swarm en mass to the penny slots and all-you-can-eat buffets, the entertainment mecca of South Jersey is successfully rebranding itself as a young person’s destination. Widely regarded as the impetus for the shift was the opening of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 2003 and its nightlife programs, which tap into the youthful, hip and trendsetting New York City and Tri-State demographic.
Seven years later, new neighboring entertainment groups are steadily chipping away at the nightlife monopoly that Borgata has enjoyed for so long. “Now there’s The Pool at Harrah’s, [Cabana Club] at the Chelsea Hotel, Providence at the Tropicana and our venue, Dusk at Caesars (pictured below),” says Eric Millstein, president of Dusk Management Group. “Casinos have realized that non-gaming entities, such as nightlife, are a necessity to success.”
Interestingly, each venue has established its own niche sub-market within the younger consumer set. “Take Harrah’s and its pool. They’ve gone after a local clientele with different promoters and events, and they’re very busy,” Millstein says. As for Dusk, it’s a young-Hollywood-driven club. With weekly hosts like reality stars Brody Jenner or Audrina Patridge and Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio set to emcee the club’s first anniversary, the club has a tremendous appeal for a more elite group of 21- to 30-year-olds.
Part of winning over the more fickle, youthful spenders is understanding their needs and wants right down to the type of music thumping through your speakers. Electronica, “Happy House” and mashups are emerging as crowd favorites for all the haute AC spots. Saturday night at Dusk is mashup night, where no one track lasts longer than 45 seconds. “It’s perfect for a very hyper and sensory-overloaded generation with shorter attention spans,” Millstein explains.
Also hopping into the bourgeoning market are turnkey companies that create, produce and deliver events such as Todd Rodeghiero and Mark Marek’s Art of Electronica, which puts on electronica-based events. With more than a decade of experience between the duo in digital media marketing and hospitality, the Philadelphia-based upstart is launching its brand with a daylife event, Nervous Beach Party, for 1,000 consumers on July 4 at the Hilton Beach Bar. Since the company is 360 degrees, they’ll book top electronic artists (this event features Oscar G and Pablo Ceballos), secure the venues and sign on sponsors for advertising and media outreach. The turnkey approach is appealing to a broad subset of potential advertisers than the typical liquor sponsors, though Cabana Cachaca is a partner at the event.
“For our first party, we’ve brought on TrainingCamp.com as a key sponsor. They’re an information technology solutions company,” Rodeghiero shares. How do you secure an IT company to sponsor an electronic dance beach bash? “They’re looking at our future plans and how we plan to grow our core base. For them, this is more of a branding initiative,” he explains.
So as Cadillac Escalades increasingly replace DeVilles in the driveways of AC casinos, venues like Dusk and companies like Art of Electronica continue to keep their finger on the pulse of their target consumer. “In nightlife, if you don’t update your product, you’ll quickly get passed by. In this business, being older and more mature isn’t necessarily the best thing. You have to be open to seeing and spotting new trends and acting upon them,” Millstein concludes.