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Design Buzz

A blog site for those interested in today's bar and nightclub design trends, including interviews and product reviews

Nightclub Design Trends: The Emergence of Boutique Nightclubs

How can you increase your nightclub's profits? Discover how adding a private club within your nightclub can be great PR and make you more profitable.


Not long ago, the trend in nightclub design was ‘the bigger the better.’ 20,000 square foot clubs – once considered monstrosities – gave way to 40,000 square foot and even 60,000 square foot clubs! Especially true in the stripclub industry, the race for bragger’s rights of owning the largest club has been a game of one-upmanship. As with the rest of the American economy, the real estate bubble of 2007 caused unparalleled damage in all night club market sectors. Some club owners were financially and operationally stable enough to endure, but many were caught in the fallout. Perhaps some owner’s lost revenue can still be prevented by implementation of a new design concept: transform some existing space into a boutique nightclub. In this edition of Design Buzz discover how the mega-clubs have successfully addressed this problem and how the concept can be successfully applied in many ways – and not just in major markets!

What is a Boutique Nightclub?

A boutique nightclub, as the name implies, is a small club. With occupancies rarely exceeding 200, boutique nightclubs are small by design, but their lack of size is exactly what makes them highly desired, and in many instances by an exclusive clientele. In larger markets such as New York, Miami, Chicago, etc., boutique clubs typically have a very strict entrance policy which requires patrons to be on exclusive guest lists. Although these are not members-only clubs, they are off-limits to the general public. Waiting lines for boutique clubs can often exceed those of standard nightclubs. The former Excalibur / Vision club in Chicago, which ran very successfully from 1989 – 2012, went through a major remodel in mid-2012 and reopened as “Castle Chicago” on December 31, 2012, as three boutique clubs, a restaurant, lounge, craft cocktail bar and private banquet facilities. Talk about a marketing change! At the time of Excalibur’s original opening, the multi-level behemoth was the largest non-hotel entertainment facility in Chicago. As you can see, times have changed. The new mantra should be ‘Bigger is riskier,’ as we have witnessed.
   

Can an Average Nightclub Benefit with the Boutique Club Approach?

The name of the game today is diversity. Common with nightclub owners in major markets, the boutique club creates a diversity390 CLUB BOUTIQUE NIGHTCLUB of interest, especially with larger venues. The problem with many nightclubs – as I’ve experienced with gentlemens clubs – is how to make their large clubs feel more appealing when the crowds are small. I can hardly begin to list how many owners of gentlemens clubs have called me over the past several years to address this. The age-old challenge – creating interest for people to remain inside a club when business is slow, is a problem that has been exacerbated in the declining economy of recent years. This seems to be a problem most common among owners with clubs greater than 6,000 square feet (557sm[1]).

Depending on the club and local market, I truly believe that many nightclubs could benefit by converting a portion of their space to a boutique club. For starters, the 200-occupant model should be thought of as a maximum. At about 15 square feet /occupant[2] (1.4 sm), the maximum size for a boutique club should be about 3,000 square feet (279 sm), as large as many small nightclubs, but an occupancy of less than 100 could be very effective. In fact, the boutique concept can be implemented very successfully even at 800 square feet  (74 sm), as we’ll discuss below.

The benefits of implementing a boutique club in an existing nightclub or gentlemens club are:

·    Its novelty will enable many club owners the opportunity to stand above their competition.

·    The size of the main entertainment area(s) can be reduced, thereby imparting greater intimacy and making them more appealing in non-peak hours.

·    It doesn’t need to be staffed full-time, thereby reducing energy and personnel costs.

·    By having multiple clubs under one roof the club owner has a greater chance for longer guest retention.



First and foremost, the boutique club requires the following:

·    Full separation from the main club.

·    A full bar and upscale décor, because this type of club is to be perceived as a value-added feature of a club’s operation.
 

·    A separate identity and marketing, the same way Night Trips operates their PLUXH nightclub. This includes separate signage.
 

·    Having an exclusive exterior entrance will impart a sense of exclusivity and privacy for the boutique club, which will play into the marketing endeavor.


How to Implement a Boutique Club

I’ve had the opportunity of implementing the boutique concept into an existing club. When the ownerNight Trips Pluxh Bar Private Lounge 800 of Night Trips Gentlemens Club in Tulsa, OK approached me to redesign his club in 2009, little did I realize that the end-product was going to feature a boutique club, among many other changes. The 6,000 square foot building included an 800 square foot room for pool tables. It’s no secret how I feel about pool tables in gentlemens clubs, and after selling the owner of a new approach, the next question was just what to do with the space. Actually, a club this large needed another bar (I discussed the need for multiple bars in a recent blog post, which you can read below). In the end, however, the former pool room became more than just another room. The space, which included one of our very popular color-shifting LED bars, beckoned for a private stage and upscale seating, as shown in the photo above, right. Little did we initially realize what we really had in front of us – a boutique club! The savvy marketing staff at Night Trips suggested that the space have its own name, “PLUXH,” (pronounced plush), and the boutique club was born at Night Trips!  The occupancy of the space, rated at 30, is perfect for bachelor parties and special events. Another approach would be to market the space as a VIP guest list for clients who spend more money and want more privacy. I think this concept could be very effective for gentlemens clubs if the room were to be held to 100 occupants.


Related Blog Posts:

 

Productive Nightclub Design: Multiple Bars For Maximum Profits

How to Design Bars For Small Rooms

 

 

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Seven Questions Commonly Asked About Nightclub Design 101:

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  2. Why Do Nightclubs Need Design?

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  4. What Is The Latest Trend in Nightclub Design?

  5. What Are The Top Wall Coverings for Nightclubs?

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  7. What Are The Latest LED Lighting Ideas for Nightclubs?

 
To learn more about Nightclub Design 101 click here

 
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[1] sm = square meters; 1 square meter = 10.76 square feet

[2] Occupancy typical in many U.S. cities.

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