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BlackBerry Messenger Saves Opening Night at Las Vegas Nightclub

The field team

When the radio headsets went down, the staff turned to BBM

Imagine the scene: opening night on New Year's Eve at XS, the nightclub in the Encore hotel on the Las Vegas strip. Everything was planned and tested. More than 1,700 tickets were presold—it seemed like the whole world wanted in. The experienced staff knew its business—they were good to go.

The doors opened, everything went smoothly…at first. But then the staff's radio headsets kept cutting out. They couldn't communicate to seat guests, clear tables—everything needed to manage the night's operations. Disaster loomed. So the staff turned to BlackBerry® Messenger to save the night.

Everyone get on BBM™

They started spreading the word: table moves, coordinating guest arrivals—do everything with BBM. Send a message to the floor host, “Hey, we're bringing in table 630 so meet us there. Work together and get guests the top service we promised.”

Thanks to quick thinking opening night was a smashing success. XS is now the top-grossing nightclub in the US, according to Ronn Nicolli Director of Strategic Marketing for Drais Management, the company that manages the nightclub. It generated $70 million in 2009 and was named the top-grossing nightclub in the US for 2010 by Nightclub & Bar Magazine. “XS on a Saturday is serving from 5,000 to 8,000 people—a rather crazy number,” says Nicolli.

Even though the kinks with the radio system were fixed, within two months the staff had fully embraced BBM for critical communications.

Ideal for complex, fluid situations

Ideal for complex, fluid situations

BBM brings distinct benefits to the nightclub scene:

  • It works in the noisy club environment. “A club is very, very loud. We are talking about 40 staff members at one venue talking by radio,” says Nicolli. “There is a lot of chatter and information going around. It is difficult to make out what is being said, so it has to be reconfirmed on the BlackBerry Messenger group.”
  • BBM offers discretion. Nicolli explains that it looks bad to stand in front of a client and say over the radio, “I have a client who wants to spend $5,000.” With BBM the client will not know what you are typing or to whom you are speaking.
  • It is accountable. A downside to emails and text messaging is that employees can plausibly claim that they never received the message—or received it too late. But with BBM the sender can see who received what and when.

    “We always have some guys who tell us, 'I didn't get a text message,'—it is their excuse,” says Nicolli. “But we love BlackBerry Messenger because we know they read the message. And now it puts them under the gun and they have to do something.”
  • It is both fast and reliable. Messages are pushed to the recipients' BlackBerry® smartphones with remarkable speed and reliability. That is crucial in a high-stakes environment like the XS nightclub where speed determines revenue.

    For XS any open table is lost revenue. Nicolli says that staff can set up functional groups within BBM—say by table section. Then the host can send a BBM message to the group asking, “Does anyone have any open tables?” and maybe they can seat another 20–30 customers.

The field team

In addition to the XS nightclub, Drais Management also has a large field team who act as mobile concierges for VIP visitors to Las Vegas. Their clients want someone who can get them the table at the hottest restaurant, or who can arrange tickets to the big fight on Saturday night.

Managers stop resisting and embrace mobility

Nicolli says that he kept trying to get the field team to use PCs back at the office. Management wanted documentation and control. But these are the types of people who hate being tied down. They love talking on the phone and texting. They live for contacting clients, and they always are in the know. And they simply hate going into an office. “The day they had to come into the office was their worst day of work,” says Nicolli.

So Nicolli embraced how the field team naturally did their work with BlackBerry smartphones. “Instead of fighting what they love to do, the field team is on their BlackBerry smartphones getting everything done and we're getting the word out there,” he says.

For example, “The team will enter their contacts on their phones. And because it is on the BlackBerry® Enterprise Server we will get the contacts that way. It eliminates the battle,” says Nicolli.

And the field team loves their BlackBerry smartphones. “I don't know if it is a subconscious thing, but when they think of BlackBerry smartphones they don't view it as work,” Nicolli says. “They view it as fun or cool.”

Required apps for the field team

Nicolli says that they now require the field team to use certain BlackBerry apps to get the word out. These include Facebook®, Flickr™, Gwabbit for collecting contacts, LinkedIn®, Twitter®, Yelp®, and Wordpress® for posting blog entries.

Nicolli says that he can now send out an event invite to his field team via BBM. They will then post it to their Facebook and Twitter for clients to see. Or they can post event photos to Flickr to help promote the venues. They can use LinkedIn and Facebook to research clients. And BBM is widely used to coordinate the night.

What about other smartphones?

Nicolli says that BlackBerry smartphones are here to stay. “Guys will try to pitch other smartphones, but BlackBerry has the market share in Las Vegas. Anything else is just a toy,” he says. “You just are not serious without BlackBerry.”

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