How women can help reshape the nightclub industry by taking advantage of changes in technology

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens)

With the introduction of exciting new technology in the entertainment industry generally the world of nightclubs is changing.  I predict we’ll see more and more women owning and operating nightclubs in the coming years as they embrace, new and disruptive technologies. Without the baggage of ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ I think we’ll see more women, and in particular younger women, making a name for themselves in the club world.

But will they be able to turn the tide on dwindling revenues and fewer feet on the dancefloor?

This is a key question as since the 1980’s, nightclubs – currently valued at $25bn globally – have formed the backbone of the nightlife sector. Yet, since the 2008 economic crash, nightclub attendance has been falling in the UK and other Western nations.

Negative press, tighter noise restrictions, and changing social attitudes have all contributed to falling attendance rates and the closure of famous institutions such as London’s Turnmills and Fabric. Nightclubs have also lost their competitive edge in England and Wales with the introduction of 24-hour alcohol licensing.

Personally, I think we’re going to see a resurgence of the club scene in the UK – and women will be at the forefront as new and innovative, technology-driven ideas evolve the concepts of nightlife and nightclubs themselves.

Technology will unbalance the status quo by shifting the way the industry is run, and this will provide opportunities for women to break into the industry as owners, managers and promoters. Technology is the key to the nightclub industry’s future – and women have a great track record for embracing disruptive technologies.

So, what are these new technologies and how will they drive the industry? Let’s start by looking at the role of Promoters within the industry and how they bring money into the business.

Promoters

Promoters, particularly in the luxury nightlife sector, are the key to the industry’s future. I see them as the central business figures in the industry.

Although most promoters are currently men, there is a massive opportunity for women as they often have the softer, relationship-building skills needed for success in this field.

Promoters make money by earning a percentage of the total spending of their own customers in the club – the European and US average is 20 per cent.

Customers are either engaged by club promoters or contact them to access the club and/or book tables. They’re then greeted and escorted through the night by promoters – ultimately the only figures customers have a meaningful business relationship with.

This relationship allows nightclubs to function as a place where the experience happens – music is played, dance moves are unleashed, and drinks are sold.

New technology

Nitechain (founded by female entrepreneur Anna Frankowska) is a Blockchain-powered nightlife marketplace which will soon use Nitecoin – its own cryptocurrency – to incentivise its clubbers to stay active and engaged within the nightlife ecosystem. Nitecoin will reward its users for attending clubs, recommending venues, and bringing along friends.

However, to thrive, clubs need to attract a new, tech-savvy generation of clubbers, promoters need new tools to find and engage customers, and clubbers need new platforms and incentives to facilitate their experiences.

While the ‘old guard’ run the industry and eschew the opportunities offered by technology, new comers are more open and willing to embrace unconventional ways of reaching customers. I see women taking a leading role here.

The technological gap has seen the industry fail to attract younger generations – especially millennials – who are accustomed to using their devices to discover products and experiences. Many young, innovative companies, however, have caught onto this. 

The platform is bolstered by its partnership with Nightset, an award-winning nightlife app (also female-led) which allows its users to find and access events and club nights.

Solutions like this are key. Otherwise, those outside the circles of well-connected clubbers and their promoters – or those travelling to a new city where they don’t have connections – find it incredibly difficult to access amazing nightlife experiences.

Even more difficult to find – and afford – is a table, particularly for groups of fewer than 10 people. This is despite VIP Table bookings making up a massive 60 per cent of club revenues.

While tables offer clubbers the most exclusive experience possible; line skipping, security, bottle service, etc., the enforced minimum spending has caused costs to skyrocket. The minimum cost per table is £1,500 in London and $3,000 in Miami!

Meanwhile, promoters struggle to expand their customer portfolio and increase table sales. Without a technological solution, it’s tough for promoters and clubbers to find one another, and for clubbers to connect with others, book tables together and split the costs.

Figaroo (sometimes dubbed “the Uber/Airbnb for promoters”) focuses on club promoters – the true connectors of the industry. Despite having the most influence on demand, trends, and clientele, promoter technology is still a relatively young, unorganised, and fragmented sector.

Figaroo links them with invite-only customers, giving them greater visibility and allowing them to fill tables. It also connects clubbers with one another – another important method to boost attendance and reverse the nightclub decline.

The stagnation of today’s nightlife industry is also due to swathes of homogeneous nightclubs – providing a similar experience. Many venues are using technology to set themselves apart from the competition and gain the edge over late-licence bars.

Experiential technology from the likes of Zuzor is used to create interactive displays, which are used to bring club walls to life. This may see fixtures imitating the motions of a dancing clubber, “cartooning” them, and turning them into the conductor of a psychedelic lightshow.

Interactive bars and tabletops such as Touch Magix, TableFX, and spinTouch, work on a similar concept. Filled with vibrant coloured lights, these futuristic surfaces respond to your touch. So, clubbers can expect to see butterflies land on their hands, create water ripples, and launch shooting stars launch as they sip their cocktails.

With a combination of these innovative ideas, and the many more yet to emerge, technology offers new hope to nightclubs and the wider nightlife industry. Over the next decade, the way clubs and promoters locate and attract clubbers will look completely different, with women taking a leading role in creating the change.

Marco Scotti, Founder, Figaroo
Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens