As many of you know, I spent 10 days in October working in Vegas for four different clients. Suppliers in this town say they haven’t recovered from the recession. If you’re like me, you’d expect them to be flexible and accommodating so they leave a positive impression that encourages business, right?
Nope. Here are some examples of things that left me scratching my head.
We were doing a buyout of a hotel nightclub on a Monday night. Key phrase here being “Monday night,” because this club is only open Thursday through Sunday. Buying out this revenue on a night that it is closed is what I call “icing on the cake” revenue, because for the venue it’s found money.
Party time was from 7 p.m. to midnight. Liquor price per person was $64++ with a 700-person guarantee.
Here is where the bullsh*t buzzer comes into play: I had a very hard time getting them to agree lower our per person liquor price to $32++ if we met our guarantee by 10 p.m. I was told: “In Vegas, we don’t negotiate liquor.”
Luckily for the client, the venue finally relented after much debate. Lesson learned: On site inspections, ask about flexibility in menu design and get it in writing. The catering manager told me she was flexible during the inspection, when in reality she wasn’t.
For another client, I also was looking to buy out a nightclub on a night it was closed. But, the manager wasn’t interested.Why? My budget was only $100,000++!
Administrative fee mystery
I am starting to see administrative fee instead of service charges on BEOs in Las Vegas. Someone told me that’s because they have union labor. I didn’t see this noted anywhere else, so I am not buying into that explanation completely. Does anyone out there know why there’s an admin fee instead of a service charge?
Restaurant buy-out hassles
Chef-branded restaurants are all the rage, especially at hotels. But I’m sad to say that the majority of these big-name eateries aren’t as good as they should be, which leaves me thinking they’re more of a marketing ploy for the hotel.
Not all of them are a waste of time, though. That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure you get the quality you expect.
When you’re booking a celebrity chef’s place, ask how many times a year he or she is contracted to come through the restaurant. When s/he comes through, is s/he cooking or just in management meetings all day?
Also ask about the credentials of the executive chef in charge and what kind of private dining venues they have.
Speaking of doing your homework on restaurant buyouts, I went to do a tasting in a “chain steakhouse” of a popular hotel. I thought this particular restaurant was a good contender for a VIP press dinner I was designing for a major corporate client.
I called their restaurant catering manager to find the price of a buyout for 110 press people. She told me it was $50,000++ … if their VP of Food and Beverage approved of us being there.
How is that for arrogance in a bad economy? Especially in a city that has a gazillion food choices! I would share with you all what I said but I don’t think PYM would print it.
I then went a couple of blocks off the Strip. There I found a rooftop restaurant, Alize at The Palm, that was happy to have my business at half the cost. The irony is that the management of Alize did a much better job then the mediocre steakhouse ever would be able to do!
This is my story for now and I am going to be sticking to it.