Industry insiders: Las Vegas nightclubs must adapt to survive COVID-19 economic fallout

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic could dim the glitz and glam of the Las Vegas nightlife scene well into 2021, according to industry analysts who contend that some venues will inevitably need to innovate to survive the economic fallout.

“I think [nightclubs are] gone for at least the rest of this year– possibly part of next year,” said Ryan Dahlstrom, an award-winning bar and nightclub operator and president of the Nightclub Hall of Fame, which acknowledges the landscape-shaping contributions of industry leaders.

The practice of packing clubs to max capacity, common among Sin City hotspots and venues in other cities, is not only no longer possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but may also lead to forced closures of various sites, said Dahlstrom, who has owned, operated, and consulted nightclubs, bars, gentleman’s clubs, and other entertainment venues in more than 25 cities including Las Vegas.

Nightclubs with services that extend beyond dancing and alcohol will struggle to survive under current circumstances, because “a venue that sells just alcohol cannot generate revenue” at this point in time, given public health restrictions that affect standard operation, according to JC Diaz, president of the American Nightlife Association, and president of the International Nightlife Association. In contrast, sites with functionality beyond dancing and drinks, such as venues that also offer food, will be in a better position to turn a profit and can offer take out, for example.

Both Dahlstrom and Diaz agree that many cities will look to Las Vegas for guidance on how to navigate nightlife amid the public health crisis: “”A lot of countries are looking at [Vegas] to take the lead [on] what the quality and standards should be,” Diaz said.

At present, the route that many Las Vegas mainstays will take remains uncertain, but Dahlstrom and Diaz similarly concur that sites will need to prioritize adaptivity in order to turn the tide. Importantly, landowners will not accept a portion of the rent, so venues must come up with an business model alternative to what has long been the industry standard: jam packed clubs, with little breathing room for attendees.

Dahlstrom said some site could benefit by renting the space out for invite-only corporate events. Although the fate of Las Vegas’ slate of nightclubs is currently unclear, the entertainment capital of the world has been a popular site for conferences in the past, conferring legitimacy to Dahlstrom’s notion that corporate events bookings could be a critical key to survival.

H/T: Fox 5 Vegas

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