5 nightlife influencers on achieving after-dark success

5 nightlife influencers on achieving after-dark success

Staying ahead in a fiercely competitive, ever-changing environment and retaining customer loyalty are just some of the hurdles that operators in the nightlife segment face. HN caught up with some of the region’s leading industry influencers to discover more about how they navigate the notoriously challenging nightlife scene.

Aiming high

Customer satisfaction is at the forefront of our priorities; we believe in going above and beyond to ensure that the experience we give our guests is a positive one. Quality and attention to detail are other key values and we take pride in delivering products and services to the highest standards.

One big family

Our current challenges include obtaining licenses for our venues and importing ingredients. To ensure operations run smoothly, we prioritize teamwork, collaboration and empowering our team members to take ownership of their roles. We have created an extended family atmosphere and believe that every individual has unique talents and perspectives that can contribute to our chain’s growth.

Practices and partnerships

Our strategies include introducing sustainable packaging practices, promoting sustainable consumption, investing in high-quality equipment and partnering with suppliers who respect the same standards and regulations in this area as us.

Instagrammable evenings

This is definitely something we prioritize, having recognized that customers today are looking for experiences that are visually appealing for their social media feeds. We make it a point to regularly update our social media platforms with posts and live coverage from our venues, and also focus on the aesthetics, so guests can capture those perfect Instagram moments.

Plenty in the pipeline

We are thrilled to announce the upcoming additions of Baky Catering and Baky Hotels to our portfolio and share the news that Megumi will be heading to El Gouna, on Egypt’s Red Sea, in March 2024.

Upwards and outwards

We have established a strong presence in Cairo and on the north coast, providing solid foundations for us to move ahead with our expansion strategy in Egypt. Thriving markets, such as the GCC and Mediterranean countries in Europe, are also of interest to us.

CEO and founder
Baky Hospitality Group

High benchmarks

Innovation and delivering a distinct outstanding service are paramount pillars. Marrying innovation with top-notch service in the hospitality sector has enabled industry leaders to carve out a niche for themselves, setting benchmarks that others aspire to. In an industry where word of mouth and customer reviews can make or break a business, consistently exceeding expectations is essential.

Managing the cycles

Today, we face an array of challenges. Foremost among these is the fierce competition in our sector. Another lies in the cyclical nature of our business, while year-on-year rising costs put a considerable strain on our bottom line. Together, these challenges underscore the need for strategic thinking, prudent financial management and an unwavering commitment to understanding and serving our clientele. They also remind us that every challenge is an opportunity in disguise, pushing us to evolve, innovate and excel.

Smart thinking

We use energy-efficient appliances and deploy smart-energy management to reduce power consumption. In addition, we prioritize recycling and composting, reduce single-use plastics and opt for biodegradable or reusable alternatives. We’ve also installed water-saving appliances and fix leaks promptly.

All about the appeal

We focus on the ambience and surroundings that can make even just entering a venue an experience worthy of being documented on social media, paying attention to all the elements that are visually appealing and photographable.

Diverse destinations

Regionally, 7 Management will manage a range of exciting ‘7’ concept restaurants in collaboration with Joel Robuchon on Neom’s luxury island, Sindalah. Locally, we will be opening a new casual Italian brand at Club Vista Mare in October, another exciting concept with Ennismore in SLS Hotel Tamada in November and the second branch of February 30, in collaboration with Nakheel at Dubai Island.

Beyond the region

This year we are planning on taking our brands outside of the region by opening Bagatelle in Athens, Greece. We believe this city holds great potential.

Founder and CEO
7 Management

Word of mouth wins

We have several core values we maintain, led by our number one priority, which is providing exceptional service and a vibrant atmosphere to ensure that guests have a positive and memorable experience. This promotes loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals and establishes a strong brand reputation. We also focus on nurturing a positive work environment and investing in employee development, as well as staying on top of emerging trends.

Tech and training

Our main challenges are related to managing the logistics of a unique and energetic venue. To overcome these, we have implemented rigorous training programs for our staff. We also leverage advanced technology and systems to streamline operations, such as effective points-of-sale systems, advanced reservation systems and data analysis. Regular evaluations and feedback loops help us identify areas for improvement.

From less paper to paperless

These issues have become progressively important in the hospitality industry. We’ve implemented LED lighting and use smart technologies to reduce energy consumption. We’ve also focused on sourcing organic ingredients and supporting local suppliers. Day to day, we do our best to minimize paper consumption, substituting menus with QR codes, introducing digital business cards and recycled straws, and having paperless offices.

Catching the eye

Our venues are carefully designed to encourage guests to share their experiences online, from eye-catching aesthetics to signature dishes and cocktails. We also host events that are tailor-made for sharing on social media, such as themed parties and live performances.

Africa calling

Our new projects include the opening of Mr. Panther, a high-energy restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria, offering an immersive dining experience with a diverse menu. We are also creating a new restaurant and lounge bar concept in Beirut.

Staying on brand

We strategically target regions where we see growth potential and believe the opportunities align with our brand identity. Our primary markets are Lebanon, Qatar and the UAE in the Middle East, Nigeria in Africa and key markets in Europe.

SALIM GHANEM CEO and owner Standalone Group

CEO and owner
Standalone Group

Making memories

Our values include a relentless commitment to quality, innovation and customer satisfaction. We believe in creating unique and memorable experiences for our guests, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and nurturing strong relationships with our team members and partners.

Agile operations

The hospitality industry presents a multitude of challenges, from changing consumer preferences to regulatory complexities. To ensure seamless operations, we prioritize investment in staff training, stay ahead of industry trends, adapt quickly to market shifts and maintain a flexible business model. We also foster a culture of open communication and collaboration across our team.

Eco-friendly practices

Sustainability is a fundamental part of our business ethics and we are committed to minimizing our environmental impact. We do this by implementing eco-friendly practices across our venues, which include reducing waste, conserving energy and sourcing locally whenever possible.

Creating moments worth capturing

We recognize the importance of providing ‘Instagrammable’ experiences for our customers in the age of social media. Our venues are designed with aesthetics and ambience in mind, ensuring they are visually appealing and shareable. Our creative teams work tirelessly to curate moments and visual elements that resonate with our guests, encouraging them to capture and share their experiences on social platforms.

Keeping things fresh

We always have exciting projects in the pipeline and are continually exploring new opportunities to expand our footprint and offer fresh, innovative concepts to our audience. Stay tuned for announcements on our upcoming ventures!

Looking outwards

We have a strong presence in several key markets, including Lebanon and the UAE in the Middle East and the Gulf, and Europe. As part of our growth strategy, we are actively exploring opportunities to venture into new markets. Our goal is to bring our unique hospitality experiences to diverse cultures and regions around the world.

Managing partner and COO

Prioritizing passion

The three elements we prioritize are: creativity – having always been driven by doing things differently and challenging ourselves; community – having built a strong sense of belonging, for our employees and our loyal clients; and passion – nothing is standardized and if we don’t think we’ll enjoy it, then we won’t do it.

Managing seasonality

The biggest challenge is trying to plan ahead in a market marked by political and economic volatility. The summer and winter seasons represent two completely different markets here, so, to address this, we take a holistic approach and modulate our operations. This allows us to manage the depressed market in winter and maximize business in summer.

Proud to be plastic free

We’ve been trailblazers in this field, having launched an initiative with Arc En Ciel in 2017 to introduce recyclable plastic cups and remove plastic straws. The following year, we removed plastic completely from our venues and shifted to paper cups.

Selling stories

We avoid gimmicks; instead, we like to have a rich story in mind when approaching the design phase. This will naturally create magical moments which will be ideal for capturing and sharing on social media.

Regional additions

We have just launched Parasol, our new beach restaurant and bar in Beirut, and also opened Soul Kitchen, our new restaurant/bar in Dubai. We have a new club planned for Beirut in December and some other exciting projects scheduled for 2024.

Thought-through planning

We are proud of our legacy in Beirut, which has established us as a main player on the arts and entertainment scene, and in Egypt, where we launched the region’s largest pop-up nightclub, AHM, in 2022. Soul Kitchen restaurant (launched September 2023) has been a hit in the UAE. When looking at new markets, we consider whether our concepts will be unique there and allow us the opportunity to put our typical imprint on them.

JAD SOUAID Founder Factory People

Founder of Factory People

Natasha Sideris TASHAS GROUP quote about nightlife

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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