If you want to operate a successful lounge, listen to Ric Addison. He is owner of the chic and incredibly cool Ava Lounge on top of the midtown Dream Hotel in New York City.
Mind you, this hotel was at the top of the hotel and featured a rooftop lounge back in 2002 way before that became the current dab hotel trend. So Rick’s big challenge aside from creating an amazing space that made people want to be social, hang out and buy drinks he had to figure out how to get people up 15 floors to a location with no serious signage.
He did it with a great public relations presence and earned his striped working with such nightlife impresarios Ian Shrager, and Rande Gerber. Most recently, Ric added the low-key, chic Lounge & Restaurant THE BAR @Dream Hotel and The Inc Lounge at The Time Hotel which has become a Broadway Celebrity hotspot that recently hosted Lady Gaga and Madonna in the VIP “Pool Room”.
Ric is currently working on 2 new hotel lounges in NYC that will open in the spring of 2013 and once we are allowed to release details you will be the first to know. The one location is 6,000sq foot roof top space near The Empire State Building.
So here are his tips culled from decades of experience distilled into some simple and easy lessons.
Top 5 Hotel Lounge Operational Tips
1. It is important to make sure the energy in the room is an exciting and fun vibe. It is important to keep the energy up at all times. From the start of the night to the end, always making sure the room feels comfortable.
2. Atmosphere is most important. When building the lounge you must make sure that you create a room that flows, where the crowd can move through the space easily. Lighting is what’s going to really pull your whole space together. You need to have a soft glow that makes everyone look good. And always make sure your bathrooms are cool, clean with music as well.
3. When it comes to music, the quality of sound is almost as important as the Music itself. Never skimp on your sound system. It is a must to put in a DJ booth. Nothing compares to live music but always make sure you DJ listens to the crowd and plays to them. Watching how the crowd reacts to the music being playing is key. You want people moving and grooving to the beats.
4. Hiring the correct staff is so important. Your bartender is on stage every night so it is important that they are performing to the clients coming in. That included everything from talking like the classic bartender to using flair when making cocktails. (You know, where they toss bottles around and make a spectacle of preparing drinks). Clients want to be engaged when they are coming out to have a good time. That’s why they are there. Make sure your cocktail servers have years of experience in the city that your opening in. If they have been doing this job for a long time they most likely have a client base that likes to come in and see them.
5. Service should also be seamless. Your staff should be within the customer’s sight at all times to provide optimum service. Everyone from your manager to bus boy should be well equipped to meet a guest’s request. They should be able to determine whether or not a guest is staying at the hotel so they may cater to even more specific needs. Most important they need to build a relationship and connection with the clients so they feel trust and comfortable in the space
Top 5 Hotel Lounge Door Policy Tips
1. Hire a doorman that understand what you are creating inside your lounge. He is the guy that is going to crate the room; he will choose who comes in and who stays out. Giving you that desired company that will look good and make you money .He should be in tune with celebrity pop culture. Encourage you door men to follow websites such as TMZ and Gawker so they’re aware of not only celebrities but also who may be in the metro area.
2. Be careful of underage people trying to get in and always have an ID scanner available. Why take any chances with so many high quality fake ID’s out there? Try to have a few ID scanners available to your door team. Just the sight of the scanner will scare off potential underage guests.
3. Build the anticipation outside on the line. Make them feel as if it is very important inside and only the best of the best come in. Soon everyone in town will be trying to get inside. Just in case you need to, try building relationships with neighboring lounges that would be suitable for your guests to spend time in before and after your venue.
4. Your doorman is the face of your establishment. Patient, well mannered, and respectful doorman are of the utmost importance. Also establish a uniform that is easily identifiable as well as professional.
5. Know your guests. Your management and door team should always be working together to ensure balance and optimum sales. They also need to recognize the regular guests who tend to spend money and make sure the entire staff knows how to roll out the red carpet.
Top 5 (OK, 7) Hotel Lounge Cocktail Tips
1. Always use triple filtered water for the ice you use in cocktails. This is especially true for urban areas that sometimes lack pure tasting water.
2. Offer monthly cocktail classes to your bartenders. Drink menus have become much more seasonal and complex so it’s important to keep your bartenders up to speed on how to properly execute these cocktails and also to keep them aware of what’s trending.
3. Have regular drink tastings amongst your staff to increase awareness of your cocktails as well as receive input.
4. Ensure cocktail consistency by having your managers conduct continuous spot checks for quality control. Also use secret shoppers and friends to test your cocktail menu and service.
5. Always use fresh produce to achieve optimum taste and visual presentation. Establish a fresh produce run at the start of each night and discard any leftovers when you break down your bar for the night.
6. You always want to have strict pour measurements, but use an old fashioned shot glass instead of an automated pour. A cocktail that is prepared in a personal manner, no matter how busy the bar may get, provides the guest with an intimate bar experience.
7. Always have great glassware. This is theater, you want each cocktail to look amazing and great proper glassware helps to achieve this goal.
Top 5 Mistakes When Opening a New Hotel Lounge
1. Pick a good date for your opening. Try and pick a day that’s not too close to a major holiday.
2. Never skimp on the design of your space. Make sure there is a female presence on your design team as your female guest’s needs are a high priority.
3. Don’t let other people tell your story. Instead be proactive with social media and create the story yourself.
4. Make sure you know what your place’s identity is before you open the doors. It will be the only way to ensure your on track to the vision you created