Club owners should follow changing trends

HARARE - Zimbabwe's underperforming economy that has seen hundreds of companies and factories shutting down has caught on nightclubs and bars.

In the past months, Harare alone has seen a number of prominent nightclubs and bars being shut down, from the popular arts hub Book Café, Jazz 105 to Airport Lounge among several others.

As a night club proprietor and having been affected personally by the closure of Airport Lounge, I would urge those still running similar facilities to be cautious as more might fall under the harmer.

Whenever the economy is not performing well, clubbing becomes the least budgeted for, showing how vulnerable leisure joints can be in such trying times. But there can be another side to a distressed economy in that leisure joints can actually flourish as people drink down their stress and sorrows.

I am saying this because while these clubs are shutting down, new ones are always sprouting and joining the gamble.

I, therefore, urge club owners to carry thorough researches first before they open up new joints as this will guide them on a number of factors among them; accessibility of venue, targeted revellers and their preference in terms of entertainment and drinking brands.

And when business does not pick at any of the venues, the best is to shut it down and try and create space elsewhere. You have to follow where there is business and most times we make mistakes of only preferring to invest in the central business while ignoring the ghettos.

While clubs in central business are glamorous, clean and up-to-date with the latest entertainment trends, they are times when their business flow is slow compared to clubs running in the ghettos.

A club in the ghetto can make more business sense if you give the clientele what it wants, be it live music concerts by Jah Prayzah or Alick Macheso. Others prefer pole dance showcases.

When we opened Airport Lounge in Hatfield, Harare we had targeted the middle class and primarily the air traveller.

We had in mind the traffic between Harare central business and the Harare International Airport. We also had tourist arrivals in mind since the facility was along the way to and from the Harare International Airport.

We wanted to complement the efforts by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in promoting cultural tourism.

Apart from travellers to and from the Harare International Airport, we also had the people in and around Hatfield in mind.

But after running the facility for several months, we decided things were not tying up as we had anticipated after our research. We discovered that there isn’t much traffic by travellers to and from the Harare International Airport who would stop by and have refreshments.

The people in Hatfield and surrounding areas could not sustain our operations as we discovered that the majority of our patrons were actually coming in from other distant suburbs.

As an upmarket venue, we had geared ourselves to providing world-class entertainment from models, pole dancers and top notch club Djs.

While putting together entertainment at the joint was expensive, little came our way. We had to shut it down and look elsewhere, but I have hopes that with an improved inflow of tourists using the Harare International Airport road, we would relook at the idea once again!

I have since discovered that apart from the economy not all nightclubs do badly if the people running them are innovative and prepared to try and introduce new and exciting concepts.

The nightclub circuit changes with the times. We used to have rhumba dominating nightclubs and even live shows, but that is not the case today.

You will be disappointed if you try to push live rhumba music bands as the main draw card today — probably save for rhumba clubs that still stand and play it from the discos.

Once we had disco music dominating the nightclubs and then a new phase came with live shows of local music picking up.

Post-2000 saw the likes of the late Simon Chimbetu and Tongai Moyo alongside Alick Macheso, Leonard Zhakata and Oliver Mtukudzi filling nightclubs to capacity. That period came and went away, and then we had urban grooves musicians making it happen in our club circuits.

The urban grooves withered and we had the likes of Jah Prayzah, Suluman Chimbetu, Winky D and Tocky Vibes coming along.

There also came a time when bringing together more than two big stars paid more, and people enjoyed those clashes.

So as nightclub operators we should always be refocusing and moving with the music trends.

Today disco music is back and with a bang once more.

Comments (2)

Biggie, you did not follow your own advice of doing a through research when you opened The Airport Lounge. If you had done proper research you could have easily picked that the volume of tourists remains low. At best its largely made up of Chinese who are marshaled to China Gardens and other Chinese establishments. Bars are feeling the pinch of the economic meltdown. Most of these businesses are not professionally run hence they end up overcharging. Right now, you cant push volumes and you cant increase the price....so the business must have efficient cost management strategies. Most club owners do not have such sophistication so the clubs will continue falling one after the other.

Godobori - 15 July 2015

Biggie iri thorough research here kubhadhara ma journo kuti zvifaye

sekuru zvambu - 21 July 2015

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.