Nightlife leaders on tackling global challenges

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

NTIA summit: A look at nightlife across the globe (Credit: Elspeth Moore)
NTIA summit: A look at nightlife across the globe (Credit: Elspeth Moore)

Related tags Night Time Industries Association

Nightlife industry leaders from across the globe discussed how to overcome obstacles and help the sector thrive at the Night Time Industries Association’s NTE Summit last week.

The panel, ‘Unlock opportunities after dark: Global challenges and innovative solutions in the night time economy’, took place on Thursday 8 February.

It was comprised of New York City’s former NTE adviser Ariel Palitz, New South Wales 24 hour commissioner Michael Rodrigues, director of the Japan NTE Association Tak Umezawa and president of Asberos Columbia Camillo Ospina Guzman.

The conversation was moderated by Amsterdam’s former nightlife mayor Mirik Milan.

Umezawa opened up about what’s going on in the Tokyo late night market: The lifestyle of the average worker has changed, he said, as people are going into offices less frequently.

This has had an impact on nightclubs and music venues, which are also suffering from a labour supply shortage. Cost increases are also an issue, and the profitability of venues may not be as good as it used to be, he added.

He said the younger population are active customers after “three years of doing nothing” in the pandemic. They are a “vibrant new market” largely driven by hip hop, he added.

Consumer habits

Tourism in Japan has rebounded to pre-Covid levels, he said, and so the late night sector can enjoy this added demand. However, redevelopment in Tokyo and Osaka has lead to the closure of some nightclubs.

More people are working from home in Sydney, said Rodrigues, but he saw this as a “big opportunity” for nightlife. He has seen a resurgence of the suburbs, with footfall and expenditure exceeding pre-Covid levels.

Paltiz said that the countries had a lot in common, making the point that “the global pandemic was global”. In New York, the industry is still healing, with challenges around workforce and consumers working from home.

However, she said the desire to go out and socialise had increased, with people having more gratitude to be with each other. They had more interest in being entertained and having fun, she added.

“This is a very resilient industry,” said Palitz. “The need and desire is there.”

The conversation moved onto the use of technology to drive trade. There are more than 27,000 licensed establishments in five boroughs in New York, said Palitz. There is an app which maps out every storefront, shop, bar and club in the area, meaning customers can find out what’s going on behind every door in New York, she explained.

In Columbia, there’s also a website which lets consumers design their night, added Guzman.

Redevelopment projects

For Rodrigues, it’s important to improve the quality, accuracy and speed of information for guests, but he’s sceptical of anything that tries to solve the problem entirely.

Umezawa is focused on boosting the rural areas of Japan through creating reasons for consumers to stay over. He has been involved in more than 20 projects. Attracting more international tourists in Fuji, for instance, could help revive the streets.

So, he was working to help develop a menu and app for a group of bars and restaurants, as well as creating tourist-friendly signage and events for non-Japanese customers visiting the city.

Palitz touched on the situation of redevelopment. New York is surrounded by water, she said, and a lot of places by the water haven’t really been developed.

She is working on projects around the waterfront, all while thinking holistically about neighbourhoods, city planning, and how day flows into night.

For instance, one idea is an aquarium that turns into a lounge at night, which blend night and day into “life”.

Umezawa is also working on waterfront redevelopment in central Tokyo, with “entertainment, environment and community” key to the project.

In Sydney, rent and utilities are some of the largest costs for businesses. Real estate owners are mainly pension funds, explained Rodrigues, which causes problems in the late night sector as there is a big difference between retirement value and having fun dancing.

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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