Of the top 10 money making nightlife venues on the 2012 Top 100 list from Nightclub & Bar magazine, eight—count ‘em—eight of them are from Las Vegas.
That might sound like a lot, but Donna Crecca says it’s no surprise.
“Vegas is a unique market in and of itself,” says Crecca, senior director of the Adult Beverage Resource Group for hospitality research firm Technomic. “You need a market that is that large, and you need a market that is tourist-driven and hospitality-focused to generate those kinds of revenues. I would venture to say that Las Vegas is a very, very unique market. The markets themselves can only support certain kinds of venues, and Vegas, that can support the larger format.”
Crecca was part of the team from Technomic that compiled the 2012 Top 100, a comprehensive list of high-earning nightclubs and bars from around the country, based on a survey that received over 800 responses and on Crecca and co.’s independent research. Nightclub & Bar magazine, which publishes the list, will be holding its annual convention and tradeshow in Las Vegas from March 12-14, with back-of-house tours of some of Vegas’ most high-profile venues, seminars and, of course, plenty of parties.
Crowning the Top 100 list is Las Vegas’ own Marquee nightclub, Tao Group’s indoor-outdoor party palace that opened at the Cosmopolitan in December 2010. Its total revenue for 2011, according to a Nightclub & Bar survey and research conducted by Technomic, was $70-$80 million—a number even Crecca calls “astronomical. … You look at the excitement around the opening of Marquee, you look at the operating expertise of the team behind it, you look at the location and yeah, that actually works.”
However, you can’t just plop Marquee in San Francisco and hope to generate those figures. Most cities can’t support those kind of stats, Crecca says.
“Even if you take a look at the top 20 [nightclubs and bars], you’re looking at Las Vegas, New York, Atlantic City, Miami, Los Angeles. Those are the markets that can support bottle service as part of the format. Because you’ve got the high checks and the big spenders coming in, it’s just different style of nightlife guest in those markets that can support those kind of clubs and those kind of price points.”
Which is not to say the list is populated entirely by DJ-fueled dance party spots. This year’s 100 includes Billy Bob’s Texas ($10-$15M), a honky tonk bar in Fort Worth, Texas; the beer-centric Public House in Chicago ($10-$15M); and ultra sports book Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo in Las Vegas ($5-$10M).
And while Vegas’ dominance is clear this year, Crecca says she expects to see more “high-volume activity” coming out of Southern California on future lists. “There are a couple clubs that are opening there that have bottle service and are adopting the Vegas approach to nightlife and realizing some really good revenues,” she says. “San Diego is a particularly vibrant market. … They’re definitely embracing the high-end nightlife.”
Still, Crecca is quick to add that high-end isn’t always the answer to higher-revenues.
“If you’re just cookie cutter then you’re not going to be making the big bucks. You have to be innovative. You have to find your point of differentiation. You have to keep it fresh. There’s room on the list for just about any kind of concept you can think of.”