Show of Shows: Highlights of the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show

The 2010 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show came to a close Wednesday, March 10, but there is much to be remembered — and much to look forward to for 2011. The energy on the trade show floor was pervasive, spurred by creative booths, drink-making demos, product sampling, live musical performances and celebrity sightings. Oh, and the business aspect wasn’t bad either. Many vendors said they had more business in the first few hours of the show on Tuesday than they ever had at any other industry show. Attendees benefited from the exposure to new, exciting products and services, as well as the educational program, which was well attended. Here are just a few highlights of The Show:

At the Educational Sessions

— Nightclub & Bar’s Donna Hood Crecca and BarMedia’s Robert Plotkin presented “50 Moneymaking Ideas in 50 Minutes.” The crowd was standing-room-only, and attendees were lined up outside the door trying to hear their tips, which included using suggestive sales (don’t give them the option of a premium brand, make premium brands the option), offering infused spirits that only your venue has, using barbacks, keeping your restrooms clean and much, much more. Stay tuned to Nightclub & Bar, as we plan to share more of these valuable tips.

— Robert Casillas, president of Monsoon Group, offered a session on “What to Look for in a General Manager.” Among his many requirements for a GM: the ability to delegate, financial knowledge, negotiation skills, people and communication skills, initiative (making quick decisions), an impartial, fair and balanced demeanor and more.

— Nightclub & Bar President Jon Taffer, Cuba Libre President Barry Gutin and Overtime Management Group President Shane Young met for the “Champion’s Panel: Maximizing Beverage Sales.” Their suggestions for increasing sales? Be inclusive, not exclusive. Bottle service is a big seller, and the best real estate is the bottle service tables, but not everyone can afford it, so don’t make them feel excluded. “Be careful with the way you treat people,” Gutin said.

— Members of The United States Bartenders Guild instructed on “Mastering the Fine Art of Bartending with Style.” The course focused on proper techniques, creating appealing garnishes and bartender etiquette. Plus, they taught attendees the importance of having the right tools. “If you’re a bartender, your tools as a professional need to be better than what Joe Blow has at home to make Margaritas,” said Livio Lauro, USBG national president.

— The 2010 Top 100 panel discussion was a packed house, with Larry Murphy of Blush Boutique Nightclub in Las Vegas, James Brennan of Stingaree in San Diego and Sam Sameni of Wish Ultra Lounge in Dallas dishing on the challenges of 2009 and their vision for 2010. In short, they saw patrons coming out later, coming out a bit less and looking for more value in ’09. This year, they predict a return to more frequent visits to nightclubs, but also believe guests will keep a close eye on spending and will look for great hospitality and events from clubs.

— Spirits writer F. Paul Pacult, Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, Aria Resort’s Heidi Hinkle and King Cocktail Dale DeGroff teamed up to present “Boosting Business with Better Bar Skills,” providing practical ways to increase profit margins. Their number one rule: Educate your staff. “Knowledge brings confidence and confidence brings profits,” Pacult said. Other tips: Work with the kitchen, hire a hero to take ownership of the bar, alter glass size, provide a good cocktail menu and more.

— George Reisch, brewmaster for Anheuser-Busch, explained how to create a “Powerful Food and Beer Pairing Program.” Some potential pairings: Beck’s Pilsner with steak topped with alpine gruyere, Michelob Amber Bock and crème brulee or Michelob Ultra and raspberry symphony cheesecake. Reisch recommends listing beer brands by style on the menu and also putting beer and food pairing suggestions on the food menu.

Dan Aykroyd delivered the keynote speech Wednesday and sat down with the Thirsty Traveler Kevin Brauch to discuss everything from Olympic hockey to the spirits behind his spirit, Crystal Head Vodka (13 crystal heads that are believed to house radiant psychic energy and are capable of unlocking ancient mysteries). He also chatted about his first memorable drinking experience (about age 8 or 9, enjoying white wine in the afternoon on white linen tablecloths with his family) and his plans to expand his spirited venture (he’s contemplating another spirit and perhaps a beer).

— Recipients of the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Awards got star treatment as they walked the red carpet and had photos and video shot of them receiving their awards. Click here for the video.

On the Show Floor

— The 901 Tequila booth was constantly packed with attendees, all clamoring to watch entertainment from The Dan Band and learn more about the new tequila sensation.

— Dan Aykroyd walked the red carpet Tuesday to promote his Crystal Head Vodka brand. Other celebrity sightings on the floor: pop star and 901 Tequila founder Justin Timberlake, rapper Lil Jon, realtor and television personality Madison Hildebrand, chef Dominique Crenn and model/actress Angelica Bridges.

Svedka Vodka promoted its “Are You Bot or Not” campaign with “fembot” females parading around outside and atop the three-tiered Svedka bus. A live DJ added an energetic vibe to the brand’s presence on the show floor.

Monster Energy Drink fueled attendees at its booth, which showcased tons of platform boots and bikinis as models ventured down the inflatable slide into a pool.

— The Center for Draught Excellence taught attendees the importance of every aspect of draft beer. Anheuser-Busch, NUCO2, Micro Matic and TapDynamics teamed up to show how to dispense the perfect draft beer, with lively instruction on all aspects of the process, from beverage gas to equipment to wait staff performance.

ABSOLUT debuted its new ABSOLUT BERRI AÇAÍ, a mix of blueberry, pomegranate and açaí berry at The Show. In fact, ABSOLUT mixologists were on hand doing cocktail demonstrations involving the new vodka.

— The Shake It Up! Cocktail Competition held Tuesday afternoon drew quite a crowd. Presented by Southern Wine & Spirits of America and Nightclub & Bar, the event featured competitors from around the country vying for the top prize, which was taken home by Daniel Gonzales from Hotel St. Francis in Albuquerque, N.M. Finalists were: Second Place – Charles Joly, The Drawing Room, Chicago; Third Place – Mathias Simonis, The Velvet Hour, Milwaukee; Fourth Place – Darren West, Aria Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas; Fifth Place – John Lermayer, The Florida Room, Miami; and Best Garnish – Victoria D’Amato-Moran, San Francisco.

Barfly, part of the TouchTunes portfolio of products, conducted interviews on the show floor. Click here for a look at all the action, and watch part two of the video here.

The Show extended far beyond the daytime hours; for details on the evening events, check out this week's edition of Nightclub Confidential.


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